“Envisioning what might be a more effective system is one thing; doing it to scale is something else.” O’Day & Smith, Quality & Equality in American Education, P. 329
Although the Romanian government allocated €12.3 million in its 2016 budget for food coupon incentives – no financial or human resources were earmarked for launching the FCG program or providing other fundamental implementation elements – like training local teams in preschool recruitment techniques, parent education, or even the basic data entry procedures demanded by the regulations. It also did not allocate funds to the other crucial program elements: school supplies, appropriate apparel, and program monitoring.
With the full cooperation of the key Ministries involved, OvidiuRo unofficially but decisively assumed the role of Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță Implementation Facilitator in early 2016, designing a facilitation format that would add value from the local team’s perspective – The FCG Road-Shows.
Through the 2016 Caravans in 24 counties,, OvidiuRo accumulated a wealth of information about the national program’s first months of operation which it has since shared with the Government. In its continuing effort to support and improve the national implementation of Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță, OvidiuRo is committed to initiating the following projects and endeavors:
1. Facilitating Communication between
Government Agencies & Levels within Agencies
“The odds of success are increased if a policy operates in a supportive environment where its internal and external leadership are all pulling in the same direction.” O’Day & Smith
The most glaring need the OvidiuRo team observed in its summer tour was for the timely transmission of accurate information and for collaborative problem-solving – both up and down the chain of command and between agencies. It is a long, circuitous, and perforated route from a kindergarten classroom in Maramureș to the Government conference room in Bucharest where policy is made – and where, when needed, policies shall be changed. OvidiuRo currently works towards maximizing the law’s application and recommending changes as necessitated by the program’s real world application in a variety of settings. OvidiuRo will work as a liaison between government agencies and local teams — expediting the communication process, quelling misinformation, identifying problems early on, and sharing solutions.
Based on the team’s findings over the summer, OvidiuRo is preparing the ”FCG Handbook” to be distributed in print, with an online version updated as needed.
Semi-Annual Reports to the Prime Minister & Key Ministries regarding the implementation of the Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță Law.
2. 2017 Public Awareness Campaign Directed to
Target Parents & General Public
“To create and sustain meaningful policies and practices requires more than technical solutions and an engaged profession. It also requires public constituency and mobilization.” O’Day & Smith, P. 345
National TV & radio campaign to encourage poor parents to send their children to kindergarten every day. Despite the abject living conditions in poor Roma settlements, most households have a satellite dish and access to multiple channels. OvidiuRo’s previous five campaigns on approximately 50 TV and radio stations since 2009 have effectively reached all segments of society – and brought OvidiuRo’s mission to public attention.
3. The FCG Read-Aloud Caravan, Part II October 2016-June 2017
“Language development is affected by everything that happens to a child – including whether the child is ready to or expected to ask and answer questions and engage in dialogue.” O’Day & Smith, P. 321
OvidiuRo will bring its Big Book Read-Aloud project to rural communities in every county over the course of the 2016-2017 school year, to:
- Demonstrate good Read-Aloud techniques to teachers & parents.
- Investigate the reach of the program in the community.
- Involve local leaders.
- Going door-to-door with the local social workers inviting children and parents to come to the kindergarten for a “Read Aloud” session.
- Inform parents of the importance of kindergarten and helping the school staff register children. Afterwards the team will meet with the mayor, school director and other members of the local implementation team.
- Report to county authorities on the week’s findings and discuss options for addressing any problems that came to light.
4. “Extenuating Circumstance” Grants to Communities
“At the heart of the differences in implementation outcomes is their variation in local capacity. Human capital, material capital and program coherence are not equitably distributed across schools and districts.” O’Day & Smith, P. 310
To support the most dedicated communities, a fund will be available for special needs and program enhancements. Communities can apply using a simple two-page application to receive up to €2000 special purpose grants.
5. Civil Society Early Education Coalition
“Connecting schools with other organizations & agencies for targeted interventions [is key].” O’Day & Smith, P. 310
The NGOs that gathered at the invitation of the Norwegian Ambassador in May (see p. 10) agreed there was much to be gained by working together for common aims. Follow up meetings were held in June and August, and will be resumed in 2017. The purpose of the group is to:
- Share information and resource materials.
- Work together for legislative changes affecting young children’s development.
- Help build the capacity of local NGOs.