In rural areas small children - especially those raised in families at risk of exclusion - have poorer development potential due to lack of educational services. In view of lack of cooperation between the institutions responsible for schooling policy on the one hand and those in charge of social policy on the other, it is quite difficult to generate services. Relying on the experience of Bodo municipality from Norway, an innovative system of cooperation between local government institutions to support for families, including the families at risk of social exclusion, will be developed together with four rural municipalities. Municipalities will use participatory process to develop a diagnosis of the status of families with children, and - taking advantage of Norwegian partner consultations - they will build a local family support system. 20 facilitators will be trained to run educational activities for children and parents, involving families at risk of exclusion in those activities. Regular activities will be held in 16 villages for 320 children and parents. To ensure broad dissemination of project outcomes, a guide will be published.
Summary of project results
"Most of the intellectual, emotional, and social capacity is formed in early childhood. It is also the fundamental stage of educational inequalities emerging. Good educational programmes are of key importance to children from exclusion-threatened families (“Investing in Young Children"", World Bank, 2010). Care and educational services for families with young children are part of municipal duties managed in 2 systems: social services (support for families, nursery care) and education (obligatory kindergarten attendance for children aged 6). Municipalities have no duty of providing services to the youngest. In 2012, over 86% and 52% of children aged 3-5 attended kindergarten in urban and rural areas, respectively (Ministry of National Education). The educational offer for children under 3 is scarce. The project purpose was to improve access to integrated services for families with young children from rural areas by setting up pilot support systems for exclusion-threatened families in 4 municipalities. Co-operation between municipal agencies and a new offer for the youngest allowed families from the municipalities of Piecki, Przeworsk, Rawa Mazowiecka and Zarzecze easier access to care and educational services, and more extensive assistance. The partner shared materials and experience in small families support systems applied in the Norwegian municipality of Bodø. Local representatives attended seminars on designing local needs analyses; they used them on families with young children. Two-year plans of family support systems were drafted, including hearing screening tests of kindergarten children, parenting skill workshops, family picnics. In each municipality, 5 persons were trained in delivering classes to young children and in visiting exclusion-threatened families. Trained animators spent 480 h visiting families and 768 h delivering classes for children and parents. A manual was published (inspirations from Bodø, practical guidelines to creating a family support systems, documents indispensable to municipalities introducing similar solutions). Project beneficiaries included 386 children and parents from 4 municipalities."
Summary of bilateral results
Representatives of the Foundation and of eight thematic project participant municipalities attended a study visit to the municipality of Bodø, Norway. They were shown how family centres operate, and a co-operation model for institutions active in the field of providing access to care and educational services targeting young children and their families.