Children under five need quality nurturing care if they are to get the best start in life - we visit a social enterprise in Kenya that is showing how to provide safe and stimulating services.
Young children require quality nurturing and care if they are going to grow and develop properly.
Tiny Totos, a social enterprise institution in Kenya, brings about such development by helping entrepreneurs come up with cost-effective solutions to improve the wellbeing of children.
It works with existing slum-based daycare managers to improve their ability to provide affordable, safe and stimulating daycare services.
Tiny Totos is based in Nairobi but has a goal of establishing a countrywide franchise. It is striving to be recognised as the next frontier in delivering services for lower-income urban working mothers and their children, to influence policy formulation and to provide foundations for a better future for the children.
This is done by impacting the life of the entrepreneur to provide affordable, safe and stimulating daycare services.
Cynthia Coredo, the leadership manager at Tiny Totos, highlights how they do it.
“We look at the things they need to put in place - for example how can they effectively run their business, what care are they giving and is the impact being felt by all involved,” she says.
Coredo adds that theirs is a holistic journey accompanied by teachings.
“We coach them how to take care of the lives of children as well as leadership skills while improving their business to be self-sustainable. We also look at capacity building as well as issue zero-rated interest loans for development.”
Theirworld’s #5for5 campaign is aimed at raising awareness of early childhood development and putting pressure on world leaders to take urgent action to make sure all children are given the best start in life.
There are five key areas where children under the age of five need quality nurturing care - nutrition, health, play, learning and protection.
Here we look at how Tiny Totos provides those services, along with others.
Seeing that approximately 20% of persistent malnutrition begins before birth due to maternal malnutrition, Tiny Totos promotes exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, as well as providing nutrient supplements to mothers and older toddlers.
A cook at one of the daycares run by Tiny Totos says: “In our cooking we follow a menu that has been prepared. We really consider good nutrition and a balanced diet.”
She says their menu is specially prepared by a nutritionist and they are very happy with it.
“Right now we are cooking spinach that is rich in vitamins, potatoes that are carbohydrates, meat that is protein and fruits to ensure our food is very healthy.”
Coupled with cleanliness, health care for young children spans from ante- and postnatal visits to vaccinations as well as treatment and routine checkups. Measures strongly considered by Tiny Totos in their system placements.
Peter Mwangi, a parent at Esther’s Day Care, admits that were it not for the cleanliness of the daycare run by Tiny Totos, he wouldn’t bring his son.
“There are some daycares that scare you due to the environment that is not friendly and makes you prefer staying home with your child," he says.
"What appealed most to me was the cleanliness of this day care and how they look after the children wholeheartedly."
Esther Wairimu, a day care owner, says their children’s health is a priority.
“In the unfortunate incident that a child gets injured here, we have studied first aid and if that is not enough, we take them to hospital," she says. "We also have a doctor who comes monthly to check on the children.”
Play is just as important to healthy development as physical support. It needs to be part of the daily routine for children to foster better growth and development. Esther Wairimu says this is greatly considered at her daycare.
“I normally open as early as 5.20am and we have a routine we follow.
"From 9am we wake them up to relieve themselves, wash their hands, give them porridge, we play, sing then others go to bed around 11am. At 12.30pm we give them their lunch then play for about 20 minutes.”
She adds that all the children play and sing together without any segregation.
Preschool education has been reported to be one of the best proven practices for increasing children's participation and learning.
Good quality preschools also improve school readiness and can lead to better primary school outcomes, particularly for poor and disadvantaged students. Tiny Totos daycares are such schools.
The children are taught a lot such as counting and singing, and if you try to compare them with other children their age they are really sharp.
“When it comes to learning, the day care is good as it enhances socialisation, development, interaction and even brain development as opposed to staying at home," says pastor Peter Mwangi.
Leadership manager Cynthia Coredo says Tiny Totos also carries out growth monitoring assessment to see the progress of the children. It has been a success, with members of the public now wanting to emulate them.
“Parents tell us their children are more alert and attentive and we see whatever they are learning at these centres goes on with them in their higher classes," she says. "Even other managers come to us asking if we can develop teaching materials for them."
Margaret Githinji, a parent, says her children at the daycare have become mature, creative and playful, something that also develops their cognitive development.
She says: “The children are taught a lot such as counting and singing, and if you try to compare them with other children their age, they are really sharp.”
To ensure healthy early development, children need to be protected right from birth.
That is protection not only from the elements but also from violence, neglect and insecurity within their surroundings.
Tiny Totos provides a safe environment for their children by looking at the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of the children.
Cynthia Coredo elaborates on how they put this into consideration, saying: “We consider the security of the child under the care of the entrepreneur and that is why we improve the infrastructure to ensure safety.
“We also encourage parents to take part in our parent outreach meetings and show them how to take care of their children at home."
She says passion and commitment are vital in helping children grow and develop to their full potential.