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A Good Start (AGS)

Policy category

Supporting Parenting and Assisting with Childcare

Recommendation Pillars

Enhance family support and the quality of alternative care settings, Reduce inequality at a young age by investing in early childhood education and care

Countries that have implemented practice

Slovakia, Romania, Hungary

Age Groups

Young Children (age 0 to 5)

Target Groups

Other (please specify)

Years in Operation

2018  - 2012

Type of Organization Implementing Practice

Other Private Organization

Practice Overview

The ‘A Good Start’ (AGS) project sought to increase the access to quality early care and education services for young Roma children, in order to close the educational outcomes gap between Roma and non-Roma children. This was done by implementing four policy measures: increasing parental awareness of the benefits of ECEC, providing additional (financial) support, making preschools more inclusive for Roma children and parents, and by supporting home parenting. The pilot falls under the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies and was led by the Roma Education Fund and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional Policy (DG REGIO) in collaboration with other organisations.

Full practice summary

The “A Good Start: Scaling-Up Access to Quality Services for Young Roma Children” (AGS) was a four year pilot project which sought to increase the access to quality early care and education services for young Roma children, in order to close the educational outcomes gap between Roma and non-Roma children. There were 16 locations across four countries (Hungary, Macedonia, Romania and Slovakia) where 5,000 children aged zero to six were supported. In these locations local and national governments worked with NGOs to build partnerships to create a more sustainable provision of these early care services.

AGS primarily consisted of implementing four policy measures. First, increasing parental awareness of the benefits of preschool for children’s development and future life outcomes. The second measure consisted in removing cost barriers by providing additional (financial) support, i.e. by removing pre-school fees, paying for school lunches or by providing support for basic material needs such as clothes. The third measure sought to make preschools more inclusive by i.e. creating a welcoming environment for Roma children in the classroom and by removing barriers in enrolment procedures. The last measure consisted in supporting home parenting by promoting early learning at home to complement preschool-related interventions.

AGS is part of the European Commission’s ‘Pan-European Coordination of Roma Integration Methods - Roma Inclusion’ pilot project. It was implemented by the Roma Education Fund and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional Policy (DG REGIO) in collaboration with other local partner organisations.

Key lessons learned

The survey information collected from the pilot showed that the number of 3-5 year-old children enrolled in preschools substantially increased over the project period in the four countries. However, it is not clear whether this is due to a natural increase as children get older, or whether the programme has had a positive impact.

Therefore, while there is evidence from the ‘UNDP/World Bank/EC regional Roma’ survey that enrolment in preschool increases the likelihood of Roma children to complete secondary school, or that it reduces their likelihood to be enrolled in special needs primary schools, there is the need for implementing randomized impact evaluations to reliably assess the impact of an AGS intervention.  

Cost information

The project was financed by various organisations.  The total budget was € 2.01 million. The EU Contribution being € 1,9 million, and the rest provided by the Roma Education Fund together with other donors financed for complementary activities of the AGS project.

Scale of implementation

AGS is part of the broader European Commission ‘EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies’. It involved four countries (Hungary, Macedonia, Romania and Slovakia), 16 locations and 5000 children.

Contact details

Name

Alexander Rowland

Affiliation

Roma Education Fund

Email

arowland@worldbank.org 

Phone

+32 2 504 0992 

Website

http://www.romaeducationfund.hu/good-start-eu-roma-pilot

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/policy/themes/social-inclusion/roma-pilot/#1