We also investigated the attitudes and behaviours of the Local Government Authorities with regards to investing in services for young children; and sought out changes in familial and community relationships. The interviews were coded and analysed using the classic grounded theory method.
We discovered that individuals who have been touched by the program are now ready to parent. But, punitive parenting continues to be prevalent in the communities. Parents and local leaders who were interviewed believe that the early years educators are “true teachers” even though they have learnt on the job. Parents hear that the early years services are good; their children want to attend; and then parents see their child thrive.
Notably, community members are self-organizing to undertake development initiatives that benefit children. Unexpectedly, social capital has been strengthened as a result of the establishment of community managed micro funds that were initially intended to provide funding to the early years centres.
The success of the program does raise larger questions about the planning and financing of social services when communities have initiated their own services. The program had a working assumption that the early years centres would be legitimized via a process of Government supervision, regulation, and resourcing. However, the minimum standards for centres that were developed by the Government are not fit for purpose. This is because they frame quality in terms of infrastructure and processes, and ignore standards around safety. Nor, is the Government fully invested in resourcing the regulation of ECD centres.