The science of child development reveals that, in early childhood interventions, what matters is the “quality of the processes”. This quality has nothing to do with the characteristics of the facilities where childcare is provided or the university diplomas that caregivers have in charge of children. On the contrary, the quality of the processes is defined in the way in which children and adults interact in the care environment, as well as in the way in which the curriculum is implemented. The findings of numerous studies reveal that the best environment for children to learn is one in which they experience receptive, warm interactions, sensitive to their perspective and with abundant language content.
Although it seems quite intuitive, parents often do not consider factors such as those described in the previous paragraph when selecting a care centre for their children. Failing that, parents often guide their decision by daycare management software other variables such as convenience – for example, the location of the care centre on the father’s or mother’s daily path to work. This occurs because parents are unfamiliar with what are the key aspects of the quality of the processes of this type of services and, as a consequence, they probably know less about the importance they have for their young children.
Lack of knowledge about the quality of processes does not occur only between parents. In many parts of the world, this is not even an important consideration when policymakers make decisions about financing childcare programs or public preschools.
E l dilemma between results and costs of early childhood development
Early childhood development programs that have demonstrated greater effects and are sustainable in the long term are also characterized by being of very high quality. From there the following concern arises: if, in order to bring these programs to scale, efforts are made to reduce their costs, is the quality of services reduced? What do we know about the dilemma between costs and quality?
First, although determining the costs of structural aspects of quality (such as infrastructure, salaries, toys, books and furniture) is relatively simple, little is known about how to calculate the cost of process quality. What inputs need to be valued? And what is required to transform them into high-quality human interactions?
Second, the quality of the processes demands much more than the programmatic efforts, since it can only be based on the structure of a system. However, changing from a programmatic perspective to a systemic perspective introduces complexity and can increase costs. These are some examples:
- When a system exists, sufficient qualified human resources are generated each year to staff the various programs and services.
- When a system exists, employees are paid in a competitive and attractive way that allows them to grow professionally over time.
- When there is a system, performance and pay are linked to training, coaching and mentoring opportunities, so that professionals do not leave the work area and progress in their careers.
- When a system exists, data is generated and published frequently, the quality of service is monitored, the results of the children are monitored so that families, program coordinators and policymakers can make the best decisions for the well-being of children. the little kids.
- When a system exists, quality standards are established, providers comply with them and families have access to information about them by selecting a caring environment for their children.
The third and most important point is that quality is indispensable – a non-negotiable element in child development programs. Therefore, my own personal conclusion is that, when thinking about results, quality and costs with regard to children, the dilemma faced by policymakers should not be between investing more or less to have programs of higher or lower quality. The real dilemma is when you invest more and wisely today in order to develop solid foundations for young children, and you don’t give up the future gains that can be made with better, healthier and more productive citizens.