UNICEF equips child development workers as centers reopen for on-site learning
Ensuring adequate health safeguards in CDCs and strengthened capacity of child development workers
Six months since child development centers (CDCs) reopened in the Philippines in September 2022, how are they helping children catch up?
UNICEF Philippines visited the centers in its priority areas in the Province of Samar to see how children aged 3-4 are taking to their new environment after more than two years of home confinement. The Government shut down CDCs and supervised neighborhood playgroups (SNPs) nationwide as part of COVID-19 pandemic measures.
Samar is home to an estimated 800,000 people and is located in Eastern Visayas, one of the poorest regions in the Philippines.
Child development worker Cathy Lyn Japzon, 33, runs the Concepcion Day Care Center in Gandara Municipality, catering to over 30 children. During the closure, she recalled reaching out to the families in Brgy. Concepcion.
“The parents and children wanted in-person activities, but we couldn’t conduct any,” she said. But through the partnership of UNICEF and the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council, child development workers like Cathy received training to support families using the Teach-From-Home Activity Guide to ensure that young children continued learning at home.
Still, nothing beats learning in CDCs when it comes to children's holistic learning – especially when child development workers play a crucial role in the early identification of developmental delays among children at risk.
Thus, while the national government contemplated reopening educational institutions, UNICEF and the ECCD Council prepared CDCs and SNPs to welcome the children back. The preparation involved ensuring that the centers have adequate health safeguards and that child development workers receive training to strengthen and update their skills and knowledge.
In the Municipality of Pagsanghan, 30 km from Gandara, Viejo Day Care Center’s Aileen Ucame is grateful that she was among more than 300 child development workers selected to train on a play-based approach in safe learning environments. The training was part of UNICEF’s assistance to select local governments in partnership with the University of the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc.
More importantly, the assistance helped improve the skills of child development workers to implement the PEIRIDDDEC – prevention, early identification, referral and intervention of delays, disorders, and disabilities in early childhood – a community-based system that provides services to children who are experiencing developmental delays and those who are at risk.
“I love all the UNICEF training,” Aileen said. “They are compatible with my personality and knowledge and made me realize there is more to learn.” It helps that she is also the ECCD focal person of Pagsanghan as she actively shares her training with her fellow child development workers in the province.
Fresh from the training and looking forward to learning more from the continuing support, Cathy and Aileen said that the parents are also happy their children can learn in the daycare centers again.
Dina Luna, 27, was happy to receive a Learn-At-Home kit for her 3-year-old daughter Ashtrid after Aileen assessed that the child needed help to catch up with her developmental milestones. The kit contains toys and other tools to help a child improve his or her motor and cognitive skills. Aside from the kit, Dina received orientation on monitoring Ashtrid’s progress using the Core Development Milestones guide.
“I can say that my daughter has improved. She is not as shy as she used to be and is always excited to go to daycare.”