Resourceful Young Children

Resourceful Young Children
Learning Brief

Loaves and Fishes Network

Best practice in ECD programme implementation: three aspects that work well

Category: Resourceful Young Children | Comprehensive ECD package | 19 January, 2014 - 04:00


Project context

The mission of the Loaves and Fishes Network (LaFN) is to support community development by providing holistic childcare training and appropriate facilities for 0-6 year olds, whilst mobilising and supporting parent and community participation in the caring, nurturing and wellbeing of their children. They support a number of community children’s centres within the Buffalo City region with training, nutrition support for OVCs and infrastructure development. The Loaves and Fishes Network provides a holistic response to community development by establishing partnerships with semi-urban/rural ECD centres in very disadvantaged areas, and then implementing a comprehensive programme with them.

Activities that work well

LaFN’s Early Childhood Development Programme remains the core focus around which the rest of the network’s programmes exist. This ensures a holistic problem-solving approach to the ECD challenges in the Eastern Cape. We have adopted numerous strategies to working with ECD centres and three that work very well are listed here below:


Across the 29 centres we support, we have provided Basic Educare Level 1 and 4 training to 46 enthusiastic ECD Practitioners. Although some of these Practitioners had already done Educare level 4 training elsewhere, many felt that the qualification did not give them the knowledge and skills needed to do their work effectively and efficiently. They enrolled in our training program because of our reputation for delivering quality, practical courses.

Our courses work so well that we have decided to add two modules to the training programme:

First, we are in the process of developing a module on “Interacting with Babies, Toddlers and Young children” to be implemented both at home and in the ECD programme. ECD Practitioners need to be more competent (i.e. have the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours) to work with infants in a manner that stimulates brain development. We feel that too few ECD programmes focus on this component of childhood development and that a training module devoted to this issue would fill a vital gap.

Second, we are also in the process of developing a “Governance” module that aims to build ECD Practitioners’ capacity to start and to run their own centres successfully. This module will help them to develop problem identification and solving skills, planning skills, as well as information sharing and reflective skills for children.

Currently, the LaFN Educare programme is not officially accredited. We are in the process of attaining the required accreditation status but this has been a slow process. Accreditation of these modules and our courses will at least give recognition for those who may want to pursue their ECD studies further.


In 2013 the University of Fort Hare placed 18 Social Work students with us to fulfil their practicum requirements and to participate in our programme. We allocated them to 9 of our ECD centres and by doing so we strengthened our relationships with the ECD centres, parents, and community members.

The students are required to create a community profile for each area that we work in. They also document and follow up on the vulnerable children we serve – thus providing a professional service to the community and easing the workload of the ECD Practitioners and LaFN workers.

This initiative exposes the students to the practicalities of dealing with real social issues in a holistic community context. The students gain work experience, which boosts their theoretical and academic studies. In return, LaFN benefits from the professional capacity and networks of these Social Workers, and gains extra hands to lighten the organisation’s workload and help fulfil its mission.


LaFN believes that early childhood development takes place in community contexts. As such, we have identified the need to involve more parents and families from the communities in our programmes. Family members are the primary educators of children and thus must be included in ECD and schooling programmes. As such we will, in the future, be attending community meetings, parent meeting at local schools, and other family events in the communities we service, to create awareness of our programme and attract parents to our training workshops.

In conjunction with this initiative, we are planning a series of workshops to empower women in the communities where we work to be the best parents they can be in the interest of their child. These workshops will be on parenting, and important gender issues.


In this Learning Brief the Loaves and Fishes Network shares three aspects that work well when partnering with ECD centres. First they have developed a comprehensive, well-designed Educare training course to which they are adding more relevant modules, and they are getting the course accredited. Second they have successfully leveraged the support of social work students to help implement their programme and achieve their goals. And finally, through a process of reflection they have realised a greater need to effectively engage parents from the community surrounding the ECD centres and have taken steps to work with these parents in the future.

9a Dyer Street, East London    

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In Short

In this Learning Brief the Loaves and Fishes Network shares three aspects that work well when partnering with ECD centres: 1) develop a comprehensive, well-designed Educare training course, 2) leverage the support of social work students, and 3) effectively engage parents from the community surrounding the ECD centre.

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