The FDCC evolved from the highly successful 10-year-old CCSI, which had an excellent track record in making a difference, having improved early childhood development throughout the region since 2002.

By participating in the Caribbean Plan of Action for Children, we have helped shape the wider policy context.

We have also provided a grounded model consistent with the aspirations of the Regional Framework (Jules 2010) click here to read publication

Accomplishments to date:

  • Over 10,000 Caribbean children age 0-3 have already benefited from supported ECD initiatives since 2002. FDCC expects to reach 30,000 disadvantaged children age 0-5 years by 2015.
  • Parents and other primary caregivers are also supported - we launched the region’s first Family Learning Programme (FLP) to meet their literacy and numeracy needs.
  • Young adults are introduced to early childhood development issues through our Youth and Community Advocacy Network (YouCAN), and over 250 young people have received early childhood development skills training.
  • Tertiary-level students have contributed significantly to CCSI-supported initiatives, and over 175 Caribbean undergraduates have benefitted from our internships

State of ECD in the Caribbean- “The Facts”:

  • Only one third of Caribbean parents tell stories, play games or sing songs to their children, and physical punishment begins early in a child’s life
  • Typically almost half of all rural families do not have information on how to stimulate children
  • Nine out of ten 0-to-3 year olds have no chance to attend a day care centre or any other early childhood development programme
  • At the start of primary school, 25-30% of Caribbean children have not acquired the necessary basic cognitive skills to benefit from this education
  • Most Caribbean governments begin formal investment in children’s education only at primary school level. In other words, this investment comes after critical shaping of the individual

Phase One

The Foundation for the Development of Caribbean Children (FDCC), which was officially launched in June 2011, evolved from the Caribbean Child Support Initiative (CCSI), previously the Caribbean Support Initiative (CSI). These intermediary initiatives were developed by the Bernard van Leer Foundation (BvLF) and overseen by the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD) which is a regional inter-governmental organisation specialising in transforming and modernising the Caribbean public sector.

BvLF funding began in 2002 (with funding to end in December 2011) and the BvLF adopted a coordinated, regional approach to managing its projects within the Caribbean – it was systematic and strategic in its initiatives which addressed issues relevant to poor parenting practices and inadequate cognitive stimulation of young children living in difficult social and economic circumstances.

With a country-specific focus (previous BvLF Caribbean interventions has been regional), the CSI and later CCSI delivered a programmatic approach to help build common methods, regional policy and advocacy within the Caribbean. This enabled Caribbean early childhood development (ECD) specialists to develop region-specific perspectives, not just fall in line with international discourse.

As the CSI and later CCSI were initiatives (not a BvLF regional office), CARICAD provided office space and an institutional home for financial management purposes. The unintended consequence of this was easier access to regional policy makers and governments (CARICAD’s main partners), contrary to the BvLF preference for working with non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

From 2002, the initiative the streviewedatus of parenting practices and education in seven Caribbean countries to find a successful, replicable model. During 2004 – 2006, the Roving Caregivers Programme (RCP) from Jamaica was selected, modified and replicated in four Eastern Caribbean countries. At the same time, the initiative experimented with other projects, such as storytelling and community radio broadcasting.

Phase Two

In 2006, the Caribbean Child Support Initiative (CCSI) used considerable energy and persistence to forge links and relationships with governments, NGOs and universities in the Caribbean, and began embedding the pilot RCP programme.

The CCSI used a ’three-strand approach’ giving equal balance to (1) family and community intervention (grounded practice), (2) knowledge building and application, and (3) policy advocacy and communication. In practice, the CCSI gave greater weight to grounded practice – it was trying to deliver measurable results by December 2011 (the scheduled end of BvLF funding).

In 2010, an advisory committee was set up to explore CCSI next steps. It looked at the progress and accomplishments of the CCSI, and identified a continued high need for CCSI services – only about 10% of socially vulnerable children in RCP pilot countries had been reached – and found governments were expressing strong interest to continue and extend RCP activities. For example, the Grenadian government gave funds to expand the RCP to other territories. The advisory committee therefore proposed creating the Foundation for the Development of Caribbean Children (FDCC) to continue this work and help meet gaps in the Caribbean early childhood development (ECD) sector.

Services and Accomplishments

For the ten years before the FDCC was formed, the CCSI strengthened the Caribbean care environment using a three-strand approach:

Each strand was interrelated, and linked by a cross-cutting communication approach.

The flagship family and community intervention was the Roving Caregivers Programme (RCP) which was piloted and now operates in Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, and replicated in Belize. Tobago also had a small pilot in 2005 – 2006.

As part of this intervention, the CCSI conducted more than 3,000 parent consultations, and over 10,000 children between birth and age three years benefited from RCP services. The RCP therefore achieved a key aim:

To develop a regional and evolving approach that would facilitate the development and sharing of common methods between Caribbean countries. The RCP has also given training and work experience to many young adults who were previously unable to enter higher education. It enabled school leavers and university graduates to channel their energy and enthusiasm into social development – more than 200 young adults were provided with 1,500 hours of early childhood development training and, in one single year, over 50 Rovers received National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) level one certification.

In the area of knowledge building and application, the CCSI helped create researcher networks and obtain support from universities for CCSI programme research across the Caribbean region.

And perhaps the most important CCSI achievement in policy advocacy and communication has been enabling a shift in government-sector perceptions, encouraging early childhood development (ECD) decision makers to think beyond “my sector” to instead adopt an inclusive “our country” approach.