In late 2013, ECF was contracted by Gauteng’s Department of Social Development to assess children aged 1 to 5 years who attended Department-registered Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres. The aim was to establish a baseline of growth parameters and to determine the ongoing physical and cognitive development of children who attended ECD centres, with a view to identifying potential problems and lapses in services which the Department would thereafter need to remedy.
To carry out such assessments, ECF designed evaluation tools aimed at determining the social circumstances in which that child is being raised. A creche questionnaire was also developed to provide information on the types of intervention the crèche provided, the kind of support they receive from the department as well as the total number of children who attend the creche. These tools were designed by a team of medical doctors, a specialist paediatrician, medical scientists, epidemiologists, statisticians and social workers.
Assessments began in 2014 and by the end of 2015, 60 571 children were assessed throughout Gauteng across all 5 Metropolitan areas (City of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekuhuruleni, West Rand, Sedibeng). Reports on the performance of each district was presented to the Department of Social Development.
The main audience for this evaluation and reports are government level decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders such as civil society organisations and community-based groups with an interest in improving health and nutrition in this population group. Specific decisions that can be informed by this evaluation including, for example, making a judgment call as to whether one form of intervention might be independently sufficient to improve ECD indicators, or whether a combination of interventions would be more appropriate. Decisions regarding allocation of resources can also be made based on the information presented in this report on the status quo in terms of performance of different districts and crèches.
ECF believes that this program will benefit society greatly as continuous assessments will lead to strategic information which will assist us in monitoring and evaluating interventions on an ongoing basis. This will allow us to track the success of interventions and determine whether alterations to these interventions needs to be made. This will in turn allow for children to perform better academically and thereby strengthen the education system.