As it was initially reported, the problems noted in our Baby Care Centers (BCC) included congestion, food insecurity, inadequate play and play materials, poor hygiene, poor ventilation, poor sanitation, and poor food storage among other issues. Children ages 4 months to 3 years attend these Centers while their mothers are working or out looking for work. Among the 14 BCC that were selected, 85% have improved their physical and social environment, hygiene, and sanitation, and so forth. This has been best achieved through subsequent workshop meetings with caregivers, BCC owners and some parents.
We have taken on an additional set of 12 Centers in Mlolongo Village which were in bad condition. New problems were identified, like children who were poor eaters, fussy, irritating, withdrawn and passive, and with poor health status. Most parents of these children were suffering from depresssion and stress due to high poverty levels. Some of the caregivers in these Centers were also stressed due to the high ratio of children to BCC and the fact that they are poorly paid.
Workshops with the hired caregivers, BCC owners and the parents have been the only way we could discuss the best ways to solve the problems affecting the children's development in the Centers and bring about solutions. Among the 12 selected Centers, each one had to provide one parent and one hired caregiver or owner to attend the workshop. This formed a group of 24 participants. I have divided them into 4 groups, each with 6 participants. Each group has been meeting once every week since mid December 2012. The attendance has been dependent on their commitment, receiving compensation for attending in order to pay a baby sitter. This has not been easy, but they have tried to keep a quorum. Many child related issues have been discussed in the workshops such as food and nutrition, child rights and protection and child health. The main issues of discussion included:
1. How can we promote warm, responsive interactions between caregivers/parents and their children in the Centers?
2. What are the early interventions to be applied to promote better developmental outcomes for the children while in the Centers?
3. How to overcome maternal depression which has negatively affected children in the centers?
4. What should be required in Baby Care Centers settings?
The outcome of these discussions are being compiled from each group discussion and will be used to plan a way forward for improving the BBCs. The results and recommendations will be included in our next report. We wish to thank all donors for their continued support to this project that benefits Orphans and Vulnerable Children in the slums of Kenya.