Early Childhood Development
A good start in life
In order to ensure integrated childhood development, birth registration is a fundamental aspect, a right that opens doors to other rights. If children don’t have a name, a nationality or an identity, THEY DON’T EXIST legally, they are not considered in planning processes and they don’t have access to health and educational services, or to protection and participation.
Strategies for integrated childhood development need to include working with fathers, mothers, community members, government institutions (health, education and birth registry service providers), and non-governmental organisations that provide programs and services and care for children in the under-five age group.
There are a range of initiatives, programmes and direct care services for children under the age of five in the Dominican Republic, which represent a progressive response to the need for care, treatment and education in early childhood, but this is still incomplete. The Early Childhood Care Office (DAPI), reports that it provides care services for 12,275 girls and boys under the age of five.
The lack of statistical information and national research is a limiting factor when making reliable estimates about coverage, level of care, quality, efficacy and relevance of the programmes and initiatives under way at a national level.
The results of this research indicate that in order to increase opportunities for boys and girls under the age of five to have adequate integrated child development, they need: to have an appropriate family environment, meaning that children should live with both parents, that these should have an educational level above primary schooling, that they should be in paid employment, and that there should be no abusive practices within the family. Children also need to live in an acceptable environment, in a community with health and education services and the chance to take part in local organisational experiences.
Currently, UNICEF is providing support for the creation of integrated childhood development spaces, areas and centres in eleven Child Friendly Municipalities located in the East, Northeast and border regions, with the aim of making these centres into care models for the rest of the country.
At the same time, support is being given for training for 120 professionals in techniques, skills and tools for working with the under-five age group, with a diploma on “Roles and Responsibilities for Local Actors in Integrated Child Development” in coordination with three of the country’s regional universities: Universidad Central del Este (UCE), Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago (UTESA) and Universidad Tecnológica del Sur (UTESUR). The professionals who are studying for these diplomas are training, in turn, 1,200 people who are involved in the process of preparing the early childhood care spaces in the Child Friendly Municipalities.
"Children First" Campaign
PriceSmart Dominicana, S.A. and UNICEF-Santo Domingo- informed that their “Children First!” campaign had managed to raise a total of US$16,114.00. The funds raised by PriceSmart’s clubs in the country will be used in UNICEF’s Early Childhood Development projects, to improve family and community practices in the care and development of children under the age of five, strengthening the links between health, education and other sectors, always with a view to supporting activities that increase the availability of services for this age group.