Slide 1

Report
Early Childhood Development as
Entry Point for Social Inclusion of
Roma Children
Gordon Alexander Senior Advisor Economic and
Social Policy UNICEF CEE/ CIS
Zagreb, 30 November 2010
By way of Preface: in times of
budget austerity….
• a commitment to ‘fairness’ ( the worse off shouldn’t
be further disadvantaged…)
• Children who are at risk of ‘falling behind’
• No child growing up in a family that has less than
living wage
• Challenge the rise in xenophobia
Key messages:
 Core concept: We need good policies for all children
- plus additional support for marginalised children
 Access to education for Roma critical but often too
late
 ECD spans 0-8 years (not just = to pre-school)
 ECD an essential but not sufficient condition for
social inclusion
UNICEF
Latest science on Early Childhood:
The most rapid period of growth and change in
human lifespan…
Language
Sensing
Pathways
(vision, hearing)
-6
-3
0
3
6
9
Higher
Cognitive Function
1
4
Months
8
Years
AGE OF CHILD
Source : C. Nelson, in From Neurons to Neighborhoods, 2000
12
16
CRC Committee
General Comment 7 on Young Child
 states failing on obligations to this age-group
 children have rights from very beginning of
their lives…
 special vulnerability of very young to poverty
and discrimination, undermining capacities and
well being
 call for integrated approaches supporting
parents as well as children
UNICEF
Components of an inclusive early childhood
system
Child-seeking and
culturally responsive
health services address
developmental & medical
needs of young children
and mothers
Early
Learning
Health, Mental Health
& Nutrition
Early identification,
assessment and
inclusive services for
children with special
needs, disabilities, or
developmental delays
Special Needs/
Early
Intervention
Source: adapted from ECD Systems Working Group, Minnesota, 2007
Early care and education
opportunities in stimulating
environments where children
are supported to develop
confidence, self-esteem,
language skills & what they
need to succeed in school
and life
Family
Support
Families’ access to social and
child protection services to
ensure children’s basic needs
met & they have nurturing and
stable relationships with caring
adults
There are successes and good
practice…
(Partnership REF, OSI, ISSA, UNICEF, WB, RRC….EU…..)
• Health and education mediators (Romania)
• Parenting ‘ readiness for school’ (B&H)
• CIP Pre-schoool (Serbia)
• Reform of teacher training KG …..
Yet mostly fragments of good practice, .. Some
guidelines here… training material there. No
comprehensive approaches that address child
wellbeing in full , or have gone to scale
Elements of a comprehensive strategy
• a broad approach: Pre- and post-delivery, 0- 3 age
group,
• at least 2 years high quality pre-school or ECD for all
Roma children
• Community based initiatives ( especially engaging
Roma women)
With special attention the 2 ‘transitions’ : family to
preschool/ECD, from these to school…
Supported by other critical
interventions:
• Setting bold targets for reduction of child poverty
•
Strong links with equity in education: supporting
disadvantaged children through the system
•
Links to employment/ housing (remembering ECD
creates jobs…)
Not only services that will need to develop, but new
familylife/behaviors and activities will need to emerge.
Communities must be ready to address some rather
UNICEF large issues (e.g. status of women)
How much can be put in place in our
settings? For Roma children?
• Start where services are in place (eg outreach from
health system to families)
• Make certain all elements are in place, in the same
place ….
• Remains responsive and flexible
What will determine success?
• ECD as integral part Social Inclusion strategies
• Accountability in addressing discrimination in social
services
• Openness to experimentation and learning
• Gathering and sharing evidence ( DG Employment
intiative with UNICEF)
• State Champions…
• Money….
Need for a sense of urgency
 Progress is not fast enough
 Shift incentives: A Fund for ECD?
 Advantages of a ‘big bang’ approach
 will also have a major impact on other equity issues
plaguing the EU: migrants, minorities, the disabled and
intolerance.
UNICEF
New benchmarks & results for Early
Childhood Development of marginalised
children
Roma children
• Policies,
• Community outreach
• Access to quality services,
• Investments
• General context
Mainstream ECD (Report Card 8)
Belgian EU Presidency Roma Platform
meeting December 13th 2011 focusing
on ECD
UNICEF

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