THE STATE OF THE DAYCARE ECOSYSTEM.
Early childhood care and education are rapidly growing in Kenya with increasing attention to the children, their, mothers, caregivers, and the state of the facilities used as daycares.
A daycare facility is an institution that provides supervision and care of infants and young children during the daytime, particular so that their parents can hold jobs.
Data from Kenya Data and Health Survey (2014) show that 1 in every 5 girls between 15-19 years is either pregnant or already a mother.
As of 2019 latest statistics, Kenya has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate with 82 births per every 1,000 births. In addition, over 13,000 teenage girls drop out of school annually because of pregnancy
Most of these young mothers live in resource-limited urban areas in Kenya and rely on low-paying jobs. Their continuous involvement in income-generating activities will depend on the availability of affordable childcare facilities, especially for those who lack kin support for childcare.
Most efforts that have been employed in the past focus on expanding schooling, vocational or entrepreneurial training, and access to credit for the mothers. However, the latest research carried out by the Organization of African youth and the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), under the ‘Tunza Bora Project’, indicates that these strategies do not address the daily care requirements of the young children, as well as their mothers.
Tunza Bora is a project being implemented by OAY in partnership with WUSC, in Nairobi and Kisumu counties from the previous projects OAY identified some gaps and currently, they have conducted an assessment of SMEs, key Informants, mothers who use daycares and potential parents so as to know more about childcare ecosystem and support these young women-owned SME’s to ensure quality daycare From the assessment, one thing stood out in both Nairobi and Kisumu counties is poor-quality childcare facilities! From lack of enough caregivers in centers, lack of clean drinking water, poor sanitation, and lack of spacious rooms, enough room for sleeping, sitting, and playing respectively.
Quality child care allows children to develop social and learning skills at a younger age. These abilities assist children in developing and maintaining positive relationships with their parents, adults, and peers.
But how do quality childcare services look like?
Walking through the Lungalunga slums (even before seeing the centers) for the first time, will give you a clear insight into what to expect in the daycare centers.
Like any other typical slum, the area is densely populated, with most houses (roof and wall) made from iron sheets, heaps of garbage on the roadside, and smelling sewerage flowing near the houses, some of which do not have a fence or a gate.
Now that’s dangerous for anyone to leave their children, and does not shout any quality. But what options do these mothers have? They have a child or children to feed, so they must honor their work.
Through observations and interviews with daycare owners in the area, we found that the number of children keeps growing every day yet, the facilities are not expanding in terms of classes for school-based centers and rooms for homebased centers.
This means that the resources used by these children are limited and cannot be accessed by all of them.
Some of the questions that came up regarding this include;
- On average, how many children come to your childcare every day?
- What activities go around in your daycare?
- Is the center growing in terms of the number of children that parents bring?
- How do you rate your childcare and other childcare facilities in the area?
- Are you trained in running a childcare facility?
- Would you like any kind of training? Which ones?
From the conversations with the caregivers, it is clear that most of them lack the necessary skills required to run a daycare. I.e. most of them said they had not taken any caregiver courses like nurturing care. According to Salome Wahiwa Wayua, one of the daycare owners in the area, the facilities are not of the best quality because there is no support either from the government or just goodwill.
One key proposal that the daycare givers gave is that the government and NGOs should support them to get resources such as desks, beds, and water and support to expand the facilities.
They also said they will be happy if they received any childcare training either in the field of nutrition, health, and psychology among others.
In the spirit of bringing together all the stakeholders, OAY also got the opportunity to hold a focus group discussion with the parents of the children in the daycare facilities.
Becoming a mother at an early age comes with a lot of responsibilities since most of them come from needy families and the boys or/and some men that get them pregnant do not usually take up the responsibility.
A lot of the burden is left to the mother so she has to look for means of survival for the child as well as for herself, and in this case, OAY wanted to find out where they leave their babies when they head to work every day.
But even the married ones still take their children to daycare centers because they have to work to support their husbands who also depend on low-paying jobs.
Concerning this, a few questions came up:
- Are there any daycares around?
- How much do the daycares charge?
- What are some of the experiences in the daycares available?
- What suggestions/improvements do they want to make the daycares’ experience better?
The young mothers mentioned that there are at least one or two daycare facilities near them, with charges ranging from 50 – 150 shillings depending on the age of the child.
Some of the challenges in these facilities is that most of them lack enough materials such as playing materials to engage the kids, mattresses, and mats for kids to sleep on during their afternoon naps.
Another concern for the mothers is the large number of children, with only a few caregivers. This means that some of the children are not attended to when in need of diaper changes or during feeding times.
Most of them said they were worried about the safety of their children, especially in terms of health. Sometimes when they get sick the caregivers do not inform them. Yet on other days they may not be in a position to get there in time even if they have been told.
They proposed a few things that could help change the experience in the daycares for the betterment of the child.
- The daycares need to have enough caregivers so that each child is attended to.
- The centers should have in-house nurses who can look after children with underlying health issues, offer first aid services in case of an accident, and ensure food is handled properly
- The centers should be expanded so that children can have play space
- They should have playing/reading materials
- They should have enough mattresses, blankets, and mats
- They should treat drinking water, and have a running tap for hand washing to avoid catching diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
- Parents should ensure the facilities are conversant with the person who drops off and picks up the child every day.
|WRITTEN BY:||LYNETTE OKUMU|