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The ECD Finder

Supporting caregivers to locate, identify, compare and select quality ECD services in their neighbourhoods using innovative GPS mapping tool

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Written by

Name or Organization

Institute for Human Development, Aga Khan University

Geography

The innovation is aimed at providing a solution to caregivers needing to identify appropriate early years services for their children in Kenya. This idea is expected to be helpful for populations in the US especially in areas with increased populations of immigrants. Families entering the US with limited knowledge about the new geographical scope will find "The ECD Finder" a useful companion in locating services that meet their needs e.g. language, budget, distance, religion, age, quality, etc.

What is your stage of development?

  • Early Stage Innovator, with at least one-year experience in ECD

Type

  • University

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Describe your submission in one clear sentence

The ECD Finder is a one-stop GPS mapping tool that provides caregivers with ECD information to enable them locate, identify, compare and select quality ECD services in their neighbourhoods.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

Presently, there exists no comprehensive, user friendly GPS-based ECD database in the Kenyan context specifically targeted at caregivers. This innovation is about creating a searchable database which is a cost-effective, time-saving option for caregivers to identify and access quality ECD services for their children. By providing information through such a database to caregivers, The ECD Finder will help drive an increase in demand and uptake for quality ECD services. This will in turn improve child outcomes associated with preschool services such as school readiness, safety, exploration etc.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

The ECD Finder is an innovative technology for availing information to caregivers in both formal and informal settlements or neighborhoods on where quality ECD centers are situated. Through a GPS mapping system, it collates information on the exact location of ECD centers, profiles them and makes this information available in both online and offline format that caregivers can access easily.

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

We are addressing information-related barriers to accessing quality ECD services in Kenya, with regards to their availability and the kinds of services they offer. This includes services for children with special needs, especially in low income neighborhoods. Through our user-friendly database we aim to make it easy for caregivers to find ECD centers, and address the low uptake of ECD services among this population.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

This idea aims at developing a caregiver-friendly comprehensive database using a GPS mapping of ECD centres in low income neighbourhoods. A GPS mapping of ECD centers in Nairobi's informal settlements will be conducted to create a service database. The database will contain profiles of the centers with specific attention to location, costs, languages, caregiver-child ratio, transport services, safety conditions, facilities, and extracurricular activities. Special attention will be paid to unique features such as services for children with disabilities, centers accepting caregiver labor in place of fees, hours of service provision, and registration status of the centers. From this, a searchable user-friendly database will be specially designed for use by caregivers. The tool will be designed in a way to ensure ease of access through online and offline format. In order to build on the ECD Finder's uptake and usage, we will work with existing networks in the early childhood field, including community based organisations with whom the Institute has successfully collaborated with in the past. Through this, we will achieve increased caregiver knowledge, ease of use and access to quality ECD services in their neighbourhoods, which are associated with improved children's developmental outcomes. This idea will make a contribution to ongoing national campaigns for reduced inequalities in child growth and development indicators.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

The direct beneficiaries of the idea are caregivers and children. They will benefit from ease of access to ECD centers in their localities through informative and reliable information relayed through our platform. There are also several indirect beneficiaries of this idea who include ECD service providers who will have an opportunity to use our database to identify need for ECD centers in the different neighborhoods, and to advertise on our platform. Government could also benefit from the data for decision making, while private companies could harness the data for their corporate social investment activities. The Institute for Human Development (IHD) at the Aga Khan University, and its broader network which includes agencies such as the Aga Khan Foundation has a solid background working with caregivers and families living in informal settlements. Our research activities have seen us collaborate with community based organisations directly providing ECD services in these settings and sensitized us on the need to equip caregivers with information on ECD care in order to support them in enhancing the development of their children. With additional resources, we can scale-up our involvement with caregivers in informal settlements.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

The 0-5 age category forms the highest demographic in Kenya, yet nearly half of these are not enrolled in any ECD programme. This is partly due to an information gap by caregivers on where they can access such services and the kind of care they can seek or expect from the centers. In the absence of an easily searchable database, caregivers have to commit a lot of time and finances in search of suitable centers. These challenges may result in inadequate care provision which has implications for child development. The ECD Finder will have long lasting impact in terms of caregiver knowledge on access to quality services and their increased utilization. By 2020, we aim to reach 170,000 families many of whom have children in the 0-5 age group, living in Kibera which is the largest informal settlement in Kenya, before scaling to other neighborhoods in the county.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

The ECD Finder will cut down the amount of time and financial resources spent by caregivers in their search for appropriate ECD centers for their children. In low income settings, caregivers who have to walk long distances, often in unsafe, and unsanitary conditions will have a more convenient way to obtain information about centers close to them. This will increase access to quality ECD services through provision of information in a format that is user-friendly to caregivers in low income neighborhoods to enable them make informed choices. The tool will thus help minimize the problem of inadequate access to child care and improve children's developmental outcomes in the long run.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)

The ECD Finder is developed with the end-user in mind, who is the caregiver. It addresses the challenges faced by caregivers in their search for ECD services for their children. The inconvenience of moving from one site to another, uncertainties on the nature of services provided, safety and cost concerns associated with the search are all undesirable experiences to the caregiver which the tool will help eliminate. Through GPS technology, The ECD Finder creates a comprehensive and searchable database of ECD centers and their profiles. Caregivers can then use this readily available information to make informed choices on where to access services for their children. The database will have a user-friendly interface. Cognizant of data costs in the region, it will utilize both online and offline technology to deliver this information to caregivers.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

The main method through which we anticipate to reach our end users is through our collaborators with whom we have an already established working relationship. This includes community based organizations working directly with caregivers in our location of interest, and the county government under whose mandate ECD provision is placed. Within the Aga Khan Development Network, our different sister agencies such as the Aga Khan Foundation which has had several years of experience in these communities. We shall also engage other external partners such as international NGOs with interest in the early childhood field to spread the word on our product. The main barrier we anticipate is inadequate resources in terms of finances and expertise to ensure continuity of the project. We intend to overcome this by building revenue streams onto our platform such as advertisement for ECD service providers. The running costs will be kept low to enhance financial sustainability. The potential market size for the ECD Finder is the 70% of the population living in informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. With the 0-5 demographic group forming the highest population in the country, this translates to a high demand for ECD services. The product also targets caregivers who have access to a cell phone, which in Kenya stands at 88%, with 74% having access to internet connection.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

IHD project staff are already in place and have the technical know-how to implement the project. In terms of operations, existing institutional policies and procedures will contribute towards a smooth implementation process.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (1500 characters)

Our model is viable for several reasons. First is the huge demand for quality ECD services, secondly, the only requirement for use of the product is access to a cell phone, in which case 88% of the population is in possession of. Trends in the country indicate that mobile phones are increasingly a preferred and effective method to deliver social services to people in low income settings as has been done in delivery of important services such as money transfer, and different products including water. by using both online and offline options, we make the service easily accessible to caregivers and families. Additionally, our collaboration with partners will enable us reach the end-users effectively. Lastly, we intend to generate revenue to sustain the model through raking up advertisements from centers and related events.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (1500 characters)

The end user is at the center of our concept. We have therefore sought a convenient and user-friendly way for them to access information on early childhood care centers in their neighborhoods.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

Our inspiration is from our experience working in early childhood with children and families in low income settings. We are keen to help transform their lives and well-being in every way we can, and linking them up with quality ECD centers is an important step in achieving this. Besides that, we have great excitement and interest in giving parents a positive experience in the search fro quality services for their children.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)

We have in place a competent technical team consisting of project management staff, researchers and administrative staff. We also have an extensive list of partners at the community level whose engagement would be critical in gaining buy-in from the caregivers. Our next steps in formulating the database and distribution channel would be engaging a technical support professional.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

Technological support for the database.

Would you like mentoring support? [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

  • Yes

If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters) [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

We need mentoring support to fine tune our submission

Mentorship: How was your idea supported? [Relevant only for our early submission participants] (1500 characters)

N/A

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).

Institute for Human Development is a constituent institute of the Aga Khan University. Our present focus is in early childhood development. Please read more about us through this link: https://www.aku.edu/ihd/Pages/home.aspx

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