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Evaluation report

2016 Moldova: Evaluation of Modelling of Services for Children under three



Author: Camelia Gheorghe (International Consultant), Institute of Public Policy (Think tank, Moldova)

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 3’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 4’.

Background:

The findings of a joint UNICEF/UN Women study on demand and supply of services for children under six prove that there is a high demand of services for children under three in the country but despite of this high demand, only 15% of needs are covered. Hence, availability of childcare and education institutions can make significant impact on the ability of women to obtain and retain employment.

In order to  cover the gap in service provision for this age group and broaden the access of children under three to early learning and development, promote gender equality and contribute to women’s employability and professional development, UNICEF modeled services for children under three in 10 targeted localities.

Purpose:

The purpose of this summative evaluation was three-fold: a) to assess the results in relation to the Project objectives; b) to assess the replicability potential of the piloted services for children under three at national level, especially from the perspective of cost-efficiency and sustainability; c) to provide recommendations for future planning and programming of such services, based on documentation of good practices and lessons learnt, both in terms of achieved results and processes which led to these results.

Methodology:

The evaluation applied a mixed-method approach, including: stakeholder mapping; mapping of situation and contextual analyses; in-depth documentary review and structured desk analysis of modelling design, implementation approaches, documenting of results and processes; structured desk analysis of policy documents and legislative frameworks; implementation strategies; analysis and testing of the implicit Theory of Change (ToC) for the piloting of services; analysis of results from monitoring and evaluation systems and data at national and community level; aggregation and analysis of data collected via the structured observation grid; contribution analysis to determine factors which promoted or impeded the progress against intended results and attribution analysis to the extent possible; systems analysis of management, monitoring, quality control and assurance strategies; mapping of risks analyses and mitigation measures; financial analysis; analysis of sustainability strategies and systemic barriers to sustainability; in-depth interviews, focus groups and round table; structured observation during site visits to communities.

Findings and Conclusions:

UNICEF has designed and successfully piloted a model of services for children under three in ten target communities in Moldova with the aim of rolling them out nationally to cover the gap in service provision for this age group. The piloting of the model was instrumental in highlighting what could be done and how, by investing an average amount of 800 USD per child for infrastructure rehabilitation, endowment, capacity building of professionals and empowerment of parents to use positive parenting skills. The model represents a significant step forward in the process of establishing the underlying framework and practices for broadening the access of children under three to early learning and development. The evidence provided by the model is a powerful tool in the process of advocating for positive changes of policies targeting this age group and corresponding amendments of the existing legal framework. The model is replicable nationally in case there is specific state budget allocation for ECE services for children under three, ring-fenced in the total allocation for preschool education transferred to municipalities. There are good reasons for that, given the very valuable results attained by the model in the target communities and country-wide high demand for such services which is likely to act as a lever for resource mobilization in the future. Equity and quality should remain at the heart of the rolling out process at national level and measures need to be taken to ensure that the underlying causes of exclusion are addressed and that the service provision strictly comply with quality standards.

Recommendations:

  1. Ensure the prerequisites for the expansion of the model of services for children under three at national level based on a Policy Brief which puts together the evidence of demand and results generated by the piloting, a financial estimate for rolling out the model country-wide (initial investment and operational costs per child), potential financing formulas and sources, and a roadmap including clear milestones and prioritised phases.
  2. Carry out a quick inclusiveness assessment of crèche-groups in the target communities supported by UNICEF
  3. Conduct a specific costing analysis of unit cost/child enrolled in the crèche-groups piloted by the UNICEF model to serve the rolling out of services nationally
  4. Further invest in the expansion and diversification of country-wide, flexible early learning programmes for children under three to ensure higher and more inclusive coverage of vulnerable children in preschool education
  5. Empower parents/caregivers to become active and efficient partners of the education system in the process of early education and development of children under three
  6. Improve the results architecture and evaluability of future UNICEF’s modelling initiatives

Lessons Learned:

Investment in early preschool education should be long-term; Early education services for children under three represent a significant breakthrough for child learning and development outcomes, but most vulnerable and neglected children could still be excluded; Expansion of early learning opportunities for children under three requires both hard and soft investment.



Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year:
2016

Country:
Moldova

Region:
CEE/CIS

Theme:
Early Childhood Development

Type:
Evaluation

Partners:
Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family, CNETIF CSO, Moldova Social Investment Fund, targeted preschools and parents

Language:
English

Sequence #:
2016/001

 

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