Are you aware that ECD (early childhood development) is a nationally prioritized focus across the departments of Education, Health and Social Development? Furthermore, do you know that the 2013 Child Gauge Report highlights 5 essentials to ensure early childhood development? These are:
Nutritional support for mothers and children
Poor nutrition in young children is a serious health concern in South Africa. The first 1,000 days of life are most critical for nutritional support to ensure optimal growth and development
Timely birth registration enables access to other services such as social grants, free health care and education. Access to social grants is associated with improved nutrition, and therefore take- up needs to be strengthened in the first year of life. Social services are a vital support to families and children, including prevention and protection from abuse and neglect. Many children in South Africa experience violence, abuse, neglect and the loss of caregivers, and psycho-social support services may be needed to help children cope with grief, loss and trauma
Maternal and child health services
Early development begins at conception, and maternal and child health services are crucial for laying the foundation for optimal maternal health and child development. Primary level services for pregnant women and young children serve to prevent illnesses, and promote good care and nutrition. Early intervention is essential to minimize risks and prevent development delay and disability.
Support for primary caregivers
Support for primary caregivers includes information sharing on parenting and psycho-social support. Many caregivers living in poverty carry significant burdens of care. Depression is common and may compromise their capacity to care for young children. Psycho-social support for caregivers is therefore essential to promote the well-being of caregivers and to reduce the risk of poor care-giving. In addition, the Children’s Act provides for parenting programmes that support parents to provide responsive care for young children. Safe and affordable child care (including after-care for school- age children) provides much needed support for caregivers who work, study or are unable to care for their children.
Stimulation for early learning
Access to quality early learning stimulation prior to Grade R significantly enhances the ability of children from impoverished backgrounds to benefit from schooling. Early development and learning are inextricably tied to nurturing contexts and the home is therefore a key site for intervention. Readiness to learn is not solely an outcome of engagement in early learning opportunities. Children should also be demonstrating their emerging ability to exercise self-control, concentrate, and plan and reflect on their actions by the time they enter school. A range of early learning opportunities are available before school and can be delivered through home visiting, community playgroups, toy libraries and centre-based programmes. Stimulation for early learning prior to the foundation phase of formal schooling is not enough. Quality education is crucial throughout the foundation phase to improve outcomes and prepare learners for later schooling.
The msed conference is focused on stimulation for early learning. This is the backbone of the two day event and in my next post, I will focus on the activity of Day 2.
Info sourced from The 2013 South African Child Gauge Report