Episcopal Relief & Development and their partner the Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Program (ZACOP) launched the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Program as a pilot program in two provinces in rural Zambia in 2012. The program has since scaled to five provinces, serving the development needs of nearly 6,228 families with 9,937 children under six years of age.
The ECD Program works with caregivers and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS from 0-6 to help children survive and thrive. Trained volunteers facilitate caregiver support & learning groups, make monthly home visits, and provide referrals to needed services. To ensure families have the resources they need to raise children who will thrive, the program addresses health, nutrition and food security, and livelihoods strengthening.
Adapted from Existing Framework
The ECD program uses program tools from the Essential Package for Holistically Addressing the Needs of Young Children and their Caregivers Affected by HIV/AIDS, developed by the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development and other stakeholders. Episcopal Relief & Development adapted the Essential Package for a rural setting and integrated holistic programming on maternal and child health, family livelihoods and nutrition and food security.
The ECD Program is implemented by volunteers, known as ECD Promoters, who have been recruited and trained by ZACOP specifically for the ECD Program. To cost-effectively reach remote, rural communities, the ECD Program leverages physical facilities associated with the Zambia Anglican Council and other faith institutions – such as churches and schools – that serve as Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centers.
Simplified Theory of Change
Narrative: Data Collection, Organization, and Use
Benefits of a Data Collection & Use System
ERD & ZACOP identified several aspects of the ECD Program that could be assisted by a system of data collection and use:
- Assist volunteers, who work with many children and caregivers, keep track of the behavior and development of each child and caregiver over time
- Help ECD Promoters receive guidance from lead ECD Volunteers and other ECD Promoters on how to best support their children and caregivers
- Support ZACOP, which has trained over 1,000 ECD volunteers, to ensure that volunteers are well-trained and correctly implementing the program
- Help Program Managers, who are responsible for the overall success and finances of the program across the eight districts, make informed decisions about work plan and budget
- Provide Episcopal Relief & Development with information about the program, so they understand how to best spread the program to other areas
- Assist Episcopal Relief & Development in sharing an accurate story of the program with a broader audience, including donors and potential partners
Necessary Considerations for the Data Collection & Use System
Episcopal Relief & Development and ZACOP needed to develop a system of data collection and use that was able to be useful to all individuals who were involved in the program, from individual ECD Promoters to Episcopal Relief & Development.
Data collection at the household-level needed to be simple enough to not be burdensome for the ECD Promoter who was conducting the home visit, while at the same time retrieving enough information to be useful for others using the data, including Lead ECD Volunteers, Program Managers, and Episcopal Relief & Development.
The data collected at household level needed to be standardized so that data collected from house visits could be aggregated and compared to other house visits across the districts.
- Adapting existing resources
ERD adapted the ECD program using the Essential Package—an existing, evidence-based framework developed by many stakeholders. Instead of building a completely new system, ERD was able to save time and resources by adapting data collection resources that were already developed in the Essential Package—including the volunteer checklist, questionnaire, and Monitoring & Evaluation framework with indicators.ERD realized the Essential Package resources were a good foundation but did not include all of the information necessary for their program. ERD adapted the Essential Package resources by…
- Simple data collection at household level
During home visits, 1:1 interviews are conducted by the ECD Promoter and the promoter. The interview questions are standardized through a questionnaire and checklist. During the 1:1 interview, if necessary, the ECD promoter provides on-the-spot training with Visual Guides. Each volunteers sends the handwritten questionnaire and checklist to a Lead ECD Volunteer, who aggregates the information in the questionnaires and checklists from 7-8 ECD Promoters.
- Data Collectors able to use the data
Each ECD Promoter visits 7-8 children and their caregiver per month. The ECD Promoter is able to review their data collected to keep track of the progress of each child over time.After each visit, each ECD Promoter sends the handwritten questionnaire and checklist to a Lead ECD Volunteer, who aggregates the information in the questionnaires and checklists from 7-8 ECD Promoters. The Lead ECD Volunteer hosts a monthly reflection meeting every month with the ECD Volunteers. At the reflection meeting, the data collected from the home visits is reviewed. If there is a child or caregiver that needs more support, the group together comes up with recommendations.
- Systems of aggregation of household-level interviews
The information from the monthly meeting is sent to the diocese manager, who aggregates all information from all Lead ECD Volunteers, as well as from other projects, in the diocese into one Excel Spreadsheet. The Excel Spreadsheet is sent to ZACOP to be inputted into the National Database.
Detailed Process: Activity, Data Collection, and Data Use
1. Children in the community are identified for home visits from an ECD Promoter. Each ECD Promoter is assigned eight children to visit every month. Every month, an ECD Promoter visits each child’s home and discusses the child’s wellness with the child’s caregiver.
2. The ECD Promoter conducts an interview with the child’s caregiver using a questionnaire and checklist. The ECD Promoter asks about the child’s developmental status, the caregiver’s health, and the caregiving environment and writes down the responses of the caregiver on the questionnaire and checklist. [LINK TO QUESTIONS]
3. If necessary, the ECD promoter provides on-the-spot training and education using visual aids to demonstrate behavioral exercises to stimulate children’s developmental growth. The ECD promoter notes any training that was completed. [LINK TO VISUAL AIDS] [LINK TO EXAMPLE OF ECD CASE STUDY]
4. The ECD promoter returns to the child’s home after one month for another discussion about the child’s wellbeing with the child’s caregiver. The ECD notes if there has been any behavior change in the household in response to previous trainings.
5. After each monthly visit, the ECD promoter sends the handwritten questionnaire and checklist to a “Lead ECD Volunteer”. The Lead ECD Volunteer reviews and aggregates the data sent in the past month by 7-8 local ECD Promoters.
6. Every month, 7-8 ECD Promoters meet with a Lead ECD Volunteer at their local ECD Center for a “Reflection Meeting”. At each Reflection meeting, the Lead ECD Volunteer and the ECD Promoters analyze and discuss their home visits in the past month. When an issue arises with any one caregiver, the case is discussed as a group and recommendations are made on how to best support the caregiver and the child. Recommendations could include referrals to psycho-social counselors or health specialists.
7. The information provided at the Reflection Meeting is entered into an Excel spreadsheet and sent to their diocese program manager, who aggregates data for all their projects into another Excel spreadsheet.
8. The Excel Spreadsheet is sent to the National ZAC office and entered into the national database.
9. Program managers from the five dioceses meet quarterly and analyze the aggregated data at the provincial level to review work progress against planned outputs. The dioceses will also hold community focus group consultations with caregivers, ECD promoters and local stakeholders working in health, social services and education to gain additional information and solicit for recommendations based on their observations and data. Discussions are an open forum that is guided by participatory learning and action (PLA)4 tools.
10. Program managers from the five dioceses meet annually to take stock of the activities, present and analyze data and discuss lessons learned. Using findings from the community focus group consultations and data gathered on caregivers and children, program managers modify the work plan and budget for the following year or program phase.