I don’t know how to read or write, but all three of my kids have been to grădiniță. One day my youngest came home and wrote his name on the wall. I was speechless.“ FCG Parent, Ocolna, Amărăștii de Jos

My older girl was also in the program, and now she’s in 2nd grade. You might not believe this, but she only gets 10’s. She told me that when she grows up she’ll go to high school in Brașov. I already picture her holding the diploma.“

Without the Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță program, most at risk children in Romania would not have had any kind of formal early education before entering primary school, at age 6 or more likely at 7 or 8, or they would have attended sporadically and had major learning gaps and behavioral difficulties. These children are now acquiring the same knowledge, skills, and habits as their “Main Street” peers.

 
2010-2015 cumulative results 
4000+ children in 100+ kindergartens in 11 counties
3100+ high-risk children regularly attended grădiniță
9000 children age 3-14 participated in summer programs
3700+ children and family members received health care
1800 toddlers and their mothers got accustomed to grădiniță 3000+ parents participated in grădiniță activities
1000+ teachers trained in child-centered methods

Average attendance rate for 2014-2015 school year : 73%

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BUT AFTER GRĂDINIȚĂ, WHAT THEN?

It really shows in clasa pregătitoare. Both in vocabulary, but most of all, socially – in terms of keeping a schedule, improved hygiene, and friendships with the other children.” Rozalia Mihu, Cugir school principal, Alba County

FCG offers a cost-effective way to incentivize poor parents to send their children to preschool. This behavior change seems to translate to an increased willingness to attend school well beyond the end of the program.“ page 5 of the Executive Summary–available here.

An independent impact evaluation funded through the NGO Fund in Romania from an EEA Grant from Norway, Iceland & Liechtenstein found that in addition to its contribution to enrollment rates and prevention of school abandonment, the FCG program also has a strong impact on the attendance rate of children after they leave preschool. In  2014-2015, FCG communities had significantly fewer 6-year-old children (19%-25%)  with more than 100 absences per semester. In other words, the FCG program is associated with a reduction in the number of children with frequentabsences.

Overall, the FCG program was found to have a large, lasting effect on poor children who participated in it. These children were significantly more likely to be enrolled in the first two levels of primary school: clasa pregătitoare and clasa întâi. They were less likely to drop out of school, and their attendance rate was higher overall. These results re-affirm the importance of preschool education for later outcomes, in line with a large body of previous research studies throughout the world. See section “Impact study”, here.

FCG also has a strong impact on the attendance rate of children after they leave preschool.” 2015 Independent Impact Evaluation–Summary here.

The independent study evaluation conducted by German researcher Wolfgang Stuppert, and MIT PhD. candidate Gabriel Kreindler between April and July 2015, analyzed 13 communities where FCG has been implemented since 2010 or 2011, and compared this group of ‘program’ communities to a group of 26 ‘control’ communities where FCG had not been implemented but that were otherwise similar. Program and control communities were located in the same counties, had roughly similar population levels, poverty levels, and fractions of ethnic Roma. Moreover, educational outcomes at preschool and early primary level in these two groups were similar before FCG began being implemented in program communities*.

The evaluation team found that a direct outcome of program was that the fraction of children who enroll in kindergarten goes up to 84% in program municipalities, from 68% in comparable municipalities. That is, the number of children who do not enroll in kindergarten is roughly halved by the program. The program’s effects do not stop at these initial benefits. The researchers found that children who have attended kindergarten during the FCG program are roughly 30% less likely to not enroll in primary school. In addition to that, the fraction of children who attend school very infrequently is reduced, and completion of the first school year is significantly more likely.

The results indicate that FCG increases enrollment rates for children of preschool and early primary ages. In particular, the program had an immediate and large effect for children of preschool age. In 2011, the fraction of children between 3 and 5 years old who were not in preschool was 16% in the program communities, compared to 32% in the control communities. Thus, the FCG program was associated with a reduction in half of the number of preschool age children not enrolled in preschool.

For 6-year-old children, the impact of the FCG program rose gradually over time between 2011 and 2014 (the last year for which data were available). This is consistent with the fact that the number of FCG beneficiaries who graduated from preschool rose over this time period. Non-enrollment in primary school in 2014 in this group was 9% in FCG communities, compared to 13% in the control communities. This corresponds to a 30% decrease in the number of non-enrolled children of this age. In addition to the students who never enrolled, 1.6% of 6-year-old students dropped out during the 2014- 2015 academic year in FCG communities, compared to 2.1% in the control communities. This corresponds to a reduction of one-quarter of the drop-out rate.

In addition to its contribution to enrollment rates and prevention of school abandonment, the FCG program also has a strong impact on the attendance rate of children after they left preschool. In the 2014-2015 academic year, FCG communities had between 19% and 25% fewer 6-year-old children with more than 100 absences per semester. In other words, the FCG program is associated with a reduction in the number of children with a large number of absences.

Overall, the FCG program was found to have a large, lasting effect on poor children who participated in it. These children were significantly more likely to be enrolled in preschool, as well as to be enrolled in the first two levels of primary school: clasa pregătitoare and clasa întâi. They were less likely to drop out of school, and their attendance rate was higher overall. These results re-affirm the importance of preschool education for later outcomes, in line with a large body of previous research studies conducted in a variety of countries.

See full text of the report here.


*Findings were based on a compilation of five different and complementary data sources, on educational and poverty outcomes of children who were actual and potential FCG beneficiaries. These data were obtained from the National Institute of Statistics, the Ministry of Education, ANPIS, official school ledgers, as well as from repeated surprise visits to classrooms to measure attendance in real circumstances.