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The early years of childhood are considered as young children have tremendous potential and can benefit from mental stimulation for optimum development. At the same time, young children are also extremely vulnerable and need protection, timely immunisation and care.
However, while parents working in organised sectors can avail of creche facilities, children of women working in the unorganised sector remain largely ignored. This divide comes into sharp focus given the context of India’s rapid development and urbanisation that has led to changing patterns of migration and family support systems.
A large section of daily wage construction workers migrates every year with their children across states for work. While parents work on-site, the children are often left unsupervised and bereft of education. This makes them extremely vulnerable in terms of health and safety and they also miss out on regular education, leading to a huge lacuna in their all-round development.
As Project Implementation Agency with the Karnataka government, the Ampersand Group partnered with the Karnataka Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Board in 2022 to set up creches for children aged 6 months-6 years of their workers who are registered with the welfare board.
The key objective of this project was to manage and operate Shishu Palana Kendra (Smart Creches) across Karnataka in order to provide their young children with a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment that will enable their all-round development across key physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive parameters, thus preparing them for entry into grade 1.
After careful geographical mapping of the state, we currently operate and manage 45 smart creches, 27 in Belgavi and 18 in Bangalore division respectively across 5 divisions, 25 districts and 8 clusters.
These creches meet critical parameters as per the National Minimum guidelines such as close proximity to labour camps, adequate space for minimum 30 children to play and sleep during the day, as well as a kitchen area for preparing fresh food, supply of clean drinking water, electricity, washroom and internet facilities for conducting smart classes.
Additionally, our smart creches have a smart phygital learning environment with cloud-based learning resources and in-classroom equipment that provides early stimulation for children below 3 years and age-appropriate preschool activities for children aged 3 to 6 years. Our creches also offer scripted curriculum as per NCERT guidelines based on the NEP framework, supplementary nutrition with 3 meals a day, regular health check-ups, timely immunisation and growth monitoring by empanelled doctors. Our teachers receive Continuous Professional Development, while our school ERP equipped with MIS and dashboards enables effective all-round real-time monitoring. Parent and community engagement remain an ongoing priority for our team.
With a capacity to scale up without any compromise on quality outcomes, we support the government in its twin objectives of social welfare and human development, in order to create a nurturing early childcare support system where every child, regardless of their background, can learn, thrive and grow.
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