For those working on early childhood development (ECD), it is no news that the Jamaican Home Visits Programme is one of the most successful programs yet implemented. Extensive evidence has shown that the children that participated in the program 20 years ago not only did better in school, but also showed to be happier. As adults, children who had participated in the program had higher IQs, better mental health and demonstrated less violent behavior. They also earned more money than similar children who did not benefit from the program as shown in the Science Article by the Economics Nobel Prize Winner, James Heckman.
The big news is that the designers of this program made all its material accessible to governments, NGOs, child care centers and teachers working on ECD in a worldwide launch that took place on Tuesday, September 29. The video of the event is available in ENGLISH and ESPAÑOL.
The package of information, toolkit and material called Reach Up: An early childhood parenting programme is available in digital format here. It has been designed in such a way that it provides many benefits for countries and agencies worldwide that wish to replicate its success.
- Home Visits: Critical to Reach Up’s success is its inclusion of home based visits by trained visitors. This practical approach ensures that there is direct interaction and involvement of the parent/caregiver and child. Supervision of visits is used to provide support for visitors and ensure program quality.
- The Power of Play: Play activities using low cost toys are an integral part of Reach Up. The package therefore includes a toy manual that guides agencies on how to make toys using recyclable materials.
- Cultural Relevance: The package makes room for and encourages cultural modifications to ensure maximum benefits. Guidelines are therefore provided so that home-based toys, games and other activities have cultural relevance.
- Long Term Investment: Reach Up advocates for longer-term follow-ups to ensure that the changes at varied stages of a child’s life are being assessed.
WHAT is included in the Reach Up package?
- A weekly curriculum for children 6-42 months old, which can be modified to a fortnightly format. This curriculum includes detailed descriptions of how to use the materials during the home visit using developmentally appropriate concepts.
- The supervisor manual gives guidelines on the responsibilities of the supervisor and appropriate observation of the home visits.
- The training manual with demonstration videos assists agencies in the training of the home visitors utilizing an interactive format. The videos were filmed in Jamaica, Peru and Bangladesh.
- The adaptation and planning manual, which is included in the package, can assist agencies to adapt the program to their cultural context. This manual describes the steps that can be taken and the requirements for setting up a program in a country.
- The toy manual is a useful tool as it guides the agencies on how to make toys using recyclable materials.