Preschool is the first place where a child goes from the family to the institutional environment, so it is important that this environment is safe and friendly for children, engaging and supportive for parents, educational and empowering for staff, and child-centred in terms of the child’s developmental needs.
The Dardedze Centre Foundation and the Latvian SOS Children’s Villages Association have developed a preventive programme for preschool educational institutions ‘Child Safe and Child Friendly Kindergarten’ with the aim to create a child-safe and friendly preschool environment by early recognition and prevention of risks of children’s rights violations, building positive cooperation between children, parents and institution staff, and maintaining a positive environment where the interests and needs of the child are at the centre.
The development of the programme started in 2014 with an initial study ‘Evaluation of the Early Warning System in Riga Municipality’ by social anthropologist Aivita Putniņa and a subsequent evaluation. The implementation of the pilot project was started in 2015 in collaboration with the Education, Culture, and Sports Department of Riga City Council and four preschool educational institutions in Riga. In 2016, the Programme receives the title ‘Child Safe and Child Friendly Kindergarten’ and is divided into four stages. Currently, 49 preschool educational institutions in Riga and Latvia (38 in Riga and 11 from other municipalities) are involved in the acquisition and implementation of the Programme. The programme has received appraisal from the Riga Municipality and its implementation is carried out in close collaboration with the Education, Culture, and Sports Department of Riga City Council.
With the financial support of the State Regional Development Agency, 17 introductory seminars were organised in 2018 to enable all Latvian municipalities to familiarise themselves with the objectives, content, benefits and opportunities of the Programme to involve preschool educational institutions in their administrative territory in the implementation of the Programme. It also supported the implementation of the first phase of Jimba’s 9-Step Safety Programme, with at least 228 employees trained by the end of 2018 in preschools that do not already have Jimba’s agents.
In 2019, eight new preschool educational institutions from Riga and five preschool educational institutions from Aizkraukle, Cēsis, Jaunpiebalga, Vecpiebalga and Zaķumuižas in Ropazi district joined the Programme.
In 2020, the development of the Programme continues in Riga and Latvia.
Four stages of the programme
- Jimba’s 9-Step Safety Programme is introduced and implemented
Objective: to teach children personal safety skills in their interactions with other people, to promote children’s ability to avoid being victimised, to promote adequate self-awareness and disclosure of wrongdoing, communication between parents, educators and children about personal safety in relationships and dealing with threatening situations.
How: one representative is selected from each preschool to participate in Dardedze Centre training to become a Jimba’s safety agent in their preschool and lead Jimba’s 9-Step Safety Programme classes for children, as well as to educate parents and colleagues in Jimba’s Safety Programme.
Result: children are able to recognise dangerous situations that threaten their personal safety, defend themselves and others, and ask adults for help. Educators learn how to teach children about personal safety when being around other people in an interactive and easy-to-understand language; they learn how to talk to children about topics that seem uncomfortable in everyday life as well as promote children’s personal development by caring for their future. Parents are aware of the topics and content of the programme that their children are learning.
- Professional development programme for educators ‘Laboratory for Educators’
Objective: to strengthen the professional capacity of educators and education staff by improving mutual understanding and cooperation within the preschool staff and with parents; to promote the ability to identify and address early socio-psychological problems in preschool educational institutions.
How: through an educational programme and support classes for preschool staff.
Result: educators gain practical knowledge, the opportunity to solve problems through teamwork and act with more confidence in difficult situations. Preschool improves cooperation with parents, understanding of the child’s needs increases, staff becomes more confident and skills in early identification of risk factors improve.
- Digital platform – Measuring Your Child’s Well-Being
Objective: to identify and solve socio-psychological problems in kindergarten at an early stage.
How: educators complete a child observation questionnaire in the digital environment and receive an assessment of the child, as well as recommendations for further action.
Result: educators are able to objectively assess the situation, and receive recommendations on how to improve the child’s situation. The management of the institution gets an overview of socio-psychological problems in the kindergarten, which helps in planning actions, support and training in the pre-school.
- Protocol on the Protection of Children’s Rights
Objective: based on the basic principles of children’s rights protection, a protocol of conduct or a common understanding and agreement among the staff of the pre-school is developed, which defines clearly, in a way that can be understood by all, how any violations of children’s rights are prevented in the institution and what the concrete action is to be taken if violations are detected.
How: The support team of the preschool, with the support of Dardedze Centre, develops a protocol for the protection of children’s rights for use in their institution.
Result: all preschool staff have a common understanding of children’s rights, there is a coordinated approach to recognising, reporting and solving problems, and children experience being around adults who care about their personal development.
In case of any suggestions for improving the programme, please send the e-mail message to email@example.com