The mission is to help ensure healthy environment and quality relationships for a well-rounded childhood experience from age 0-4. To achieve this, TREE offers training and capacity building services to Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners in low income communities in KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape. This program aims to ensure a seamless transition from home to formal schooling.
TREE training for ECD practitioners includes knowledge building, including child development milestones, developmental delays, early stimulation, nutrition, hygiene, and safety in family households.
TREE uses an Integrated Community Development Approach as it addresses the holistic needs of vulnerable children through programmatic responses such as Playgroups, home visits, and service delivery.
Formal foundation training is an 18-month modular course with one week of training, followed by a month of practice in the field. During this time, there are support visits and assessments to verify competence. Practitioners develop a portfolio of evidence, as the basis to their ongoing professional development. The shorter modular courses range from one month to six months and follow a curriculum aligned to ETDP Seta and the needs of the National ECD Alliance. The training is an accredited qualification up to NVQ level 4.
A geographical area is identified, based on severity of need within the lowest income communities. TREE employs a participatory approach to community entry using a Participatory Rural Appraisal Methodology to assess community needs and select community-based volunteers for the program. TREE works in alignment with the Department of Social Development and also targets its identified priority areas. TREE then launches a fundraising campaign for that area to train 20-25 practitioners and to provide resources. These practitioners are usually identified through established ECD forums.
The criterion for training is usually a minimum of grade 9; however, exceptions are made based on years of experience.
This offers some income to women with low literacy levels and a passion for children and learning. Many of these areas are reliant on government grants, and the hope is that this training offers a career path and an entrepreneurial opportunity.
When the practitioners are trained, they are equipped with start-up kits of toys and resources. These kits are designed to benefit the centers as a whole and not just one classroom. They include performance management tools such as manuals on how to register with Department, basic business skills, etc. These toys and resources are available for purchase by the public as an additional income stream for the organization.
In some very remote areas, toy libraries with outdoor playgrounds are established; they offer shorter days for the children than the centers, but there is a structure, and it acts as a meeting point for caregivers and children.
In an effort to reach the younger children, home-visiting services have been established. These visits by community-based caregivers focus on early stimulation and child development but also include important information about access to grants and key social services, nutrition, and hygiene.
New innovations include improvement of data and information management using basic mobile technology. Space 4 Development was contracted to assist in the development of the application and support. The system transformed the monitoring and reporting functions of TREE from a paper-based system, which was inherently labor-intensive, to an online electronic platform where data is gathered through mobile devices.
There is also a more integrated strategic approach to inclusive education across the board in all services. This helps identify developmental delays early and improve access to services for those children.
TREE takes on an advocacy role networking with other ECD providers, the government, and stakeholders to promote the rights of children at a local and national level.The program is adapted to the needs of the community. TREE has included the needs of children with devleopment delays into its programs. Recently, the organization has included mobile technology as means to monitor and evaluate its initiatives.
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CEI approaches in actionSchool supportTeacher trainingSchool operations or managementTeaching materials (teaching guides, lesson plans, etc.)Teacher Training and Evaluation
TREE chooses to focus its work in communities with the greatest need, in mostly rural areas where communities are dependent on government grants. It also targets communities that the government has highlighted for services as a way to bolster service delivery.
Scale1,0001000 starter kitsA starter kit is provided for each practitioner, and 1,000 have been trained in the last year. November, 2013
TREE started in 1984 in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands as a feeding scheme. As the program grew, it started to focus on the mothers and realized the need for training in Early Childhood Development. It has expanded its reach into a neighboring part of the Eastern Cape.
Technology is proving to be a cost-effective and important tool in streamlining and monitoring the program; it is hoped that over time technology can be integrated into other parts of the service and the training. Given more funding, the organization hopes to expand its reach and have a national footprint, particularly in rural areas.
Monitoring & EvaluationYes
Space 4 Development, a technology company, has designed an application and support for TREE to convert its monitoring and evaluation paper processes to mobile technology.Standardized assessment performanceInternal assessment performanceTeacher attendanceNo