Birth to 3 ECE program
changing the educational system at an early age for the benefit of future generations
The realization that investing in preschoolers is actually an investment in the future society has been increasing within the past few years. During the first years of their lives, children build their self image, acquire basic skills and thinking patterns that will accompany them for the upcoming years.
As a matter of fact, academic institutes around the world have concluded that the younger the age, the more efficient the investment in education is.
According to data collected in 2016, the lowest state investment in Israel is in educational systems for children from birth to the three years of age. And indeed, the state of the public education for ages 0-3 is very poor. The problems are many and foundational, but first and foremost begin with the perception that the job of these educational systems is to monitor and not to nurture, and they do not include significant and crucial educational aspects.
The expressions for that begin with very poor public conditions for daycare workers – salary, teacher – child ratio and lack of investment of teacher training and education. As a result the national leave rate of day care teachers in Israel stands on 60% within the first year, and 10%-15% of the teachers manage to stay until the third year.
The democratic institute, together with foundations, is working on a five year action plan for Wizo’s daycares (a main operating organization in Israel out of 4 main bodies), which include an array that effects about 14,000 children aged 3 months – 3 years.
Most of the children and families in Wizo’s daycares come from a low socio-economical status, since the daycare is the only state subsidized option for these ages while the rest of the children in Israel go to home / private systems.
The plan includes a systematic process to implement an educational organizational system that leans on educational principals that are adapted to the 21st century; a culture that emphasizes choice and self expression, flexibility and variety, partnership and transparency.
The program targets two key demographics it strives to impact:
- The care center staff (nannies and other workers) – ‘transparent’ women from under privileged background, who are entrusted with one of the most significant tasks in Israeli society (educating the future generation during its formative years), who work in dire conditions and are severely undercompensated.
- The children in the day care center – mostly from under privileged populations, who spend many hours in the facility and who need the level of care and education improved to reduce social gaps.
The process includes systematic work with Wizo’s entire administrative staff (HQ, inspectors, daycare managers, caregivers) on establishing the organizational – educational perception.
The core of this program are teams’ professionalization and stabilization processes. Given the 60% new care givers quitting every year, a high turnover rate, low quality of staff and lack of training programs, we feel that it is crucial to promote professionalization of educational teams in the ECE facilities.
Subsequently, the program’s goal is to lead a change, focusing on the relations between the center’s manager and her staff and the work processes in place, striving to increase feelings of significance, accountability and involvement.
At the heart of this training program is the principle of participation. The manager now manages a participation environment, in which the workers play a meaningful part and are involved in what goes on. The manager’s perspective undergoes a transformation, where she begins to view her staff as capable, as partners in the decision-making process and as having joint accountability, while they are taught new skills that support the process.
We believe that if successful, the center will become a learning community where all members are partners who make decisions together, take an active part in the thought process about the children’s daily life in the center, a community where every voice is heard and a variety of perspectives is allowed. We believe that in this way we may bring about professionalization and consequently better educational and improved welfare for the children.
How it looks in the field…
We are focusing on developing and assimilating the participation language in 14 “flagship” day care centers chosen specifically for this program. The “flagship” day care centers are mentored by our professional staff.
The next phase will focus on turning these day-cares into centers of learning for the rest of the network’s day care centers. We also strive to develop a national model that would be adopted by the Ministry of Welfare and influence work environments for care givers everywhere.
Alongside the profound work in these centers, several other courses of action were chosen to support the program:
- Regular steering committee meetings throughout the year
- Extending work processes with HQ and the supervisors to create systematic regularities supporting participation processes.
- Gathering information, insights and experience to form a model that would be a part of a whole system of frameworks.
- Regular study and support group meetings for centers managers, the purpose of which is to help the managers become mentors of the program with the knowledge and skills necessary to spread this philosophy to all centers in the future.
Partners of this project: Bracha foundation, Karaso family foundation and KKL UK.