Overall, participants in the workshops cooperated well on the issues discussed, such as congestion, where caregiver/owners agreed to not take care of more children than was suitable for their room size; and problems with food security, where the majoriity had problems with insufficient and unbalanced food which was brought by the parents to their children. Others complained about parents who were in arrears in paying their fees and some who then transfer their children to another center without paying. Parents agreed to change their habits.
Caregivers/owners admitted to not letting the children play and instead had them sleeping all day. They did this because of lack of play toys, open space and security issues. They were tutored on the importance of play and stimulation for growing children and some play materials were supplied to them.
Both the caregivers and the parents were encouraged to practice good hygiene, especially in their immediate environment , prompt emptying of potties and keeping the dishes clean and dry. Parents requested that the center owners have a realistic caregiver-to-child ratio to avoid poor social contacts and get better interactions which would promote more positive responsiveness from the children. The parents requested the centers' owners to employ qualified caregivers with skills for taking care of children, especially in limited spaces.
There is a need for empowering the caregivers who take care of the children in the Baby Care Centers through training programs undertaken regularly, as well as laying down a comprehensive and consistent follow-up system of visits to check levels of compliance. Donations of playthings, balls and an assortment of toys would go a long way in alleviating the level of inactivity and sadness apparent in most of the children.
In addition, that the centers with extreme cases of want, be assisted with donations of fortified flour and other growth and health boosting products whenever resources are available. That partnerships with local churches and other well wishers be formulated in order that church members and other individual donors can donate fruit and fresh vegetables regularly to benefit the children.
The distance covered thus far, concerning the training of both parents and caregivers with funds from the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charlotteville, Virginia, has had a noticeable effect. Areas concerning hygiene, cleanliness and child play have registered near instant improvement. The hardest part and the most challenging remains the balanced diet and availability of adequate food stocks. This is an immediate and long term goal for us. We are currently in the process of negotiating with millers in order to get supplies of fortified flours at a low price.
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