In Romania, Together for Better Health adds a health component to OvidiuRo‘s (OvR) Fiecare Copil in Gradinita (Every child in preschool) early educational program, by providing funds to cover some of the most pressing health needs of impoverished preschool children.
OvidiuRo was founded by Maria Gheorghiu and Leslie Hawke in 2004, after working with the poorest children in Bacau. The odds are stacked against these children from birth so our goal has always been to help them beat the odds so they have a chance of reaching their potential in life. The Every Child in Preschool (FCG) program was launched in partnership with the Ministry of Education in 2010. Since then over 11,000 children in 43 rural and semi-rural communities have benefited from early education and better nutrition through FCG. Currently 2.500 children in 43 communities from 11 counties are included in the Every Child in Preschool program.
Every Child in Preschool has doubled the preschool daily attendance rates of severely impoverished children from 43% to 82% throught the food coupons. Parents receive €12 in food coupons at the end of the month if they take their child to preschool every day. In Romania, the monthly child allowance (which is unconditional) is €10, so this is a significant increase for families surviving on their children’s allowance. Food coupons, conditional on children’s attendance in preschool, have proven to be a highly effective and efficient tool to stimulate destitute, functionally illiterate parents (with an average of four years of schooling) to bring their young children to gradinita every day.
Targets the poorest children – those living in overcrowded, inadequate housing in isolated areas with sorely limited access to potable water and standard health care. In the winter, the unemployment rate is close to 100% due to the low education level of the adults combined with a low demand for unskilled labor.
To turn this program into a public policy, supported by authorities and available for all 120,000 poor children in Romania.
FCG (Every Child in Preschool) prevents school abandonment by:
· Helping communities prioritize early education and
· incentivizing the community’s poorest parents to send their 3 to 5-year-old children to gradinita.
How FCG works:
· A local team (composed of the school director, preschool teachers, a social worker, and a school mediator) implements FCG under the auspices of the Mayor and Local Council. To participate in FCG, the local administration is required to convene a “Local Action Group” to approve the program and customize the implementation plan according to the local situation.
· The Local Council must allocate at least €35 per year per child for clothes and shoes for the children in the program.
· In addition to providing food coupons for children’s regular attendance, OvR allocates €15 per child per year so teachers can purchase school materials of their own choosing.
· OvR also provides training and on-site consultation to the Local Action Group and implementation team and organizes teacher training workshops in modern teaching methods.
· Taking Root in the Community & Building a Professional Local Team;
· Tracking Registration & Attendance of High-Risk Children;
· Forging Relationships with the Poorest Parents;
· Improving the Health of Vulnerable Children (supported by GlaxoSmithKline).
· An award-winning program that has been cited as a model by both The Economist and the World Bank, FCG has also been ndorsed by the Romanian Ministries of Education and Labour. To date, FCG has been funded largely by the Romanian corporate sector and an American non-profit organization, the Alex Fund.
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