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C3: A Universal Blueprint to Build Modular Child Care Centres

The C3 proposal is to design and advocate a systematic approach to deliver child care services and parenting information for low-income communities, in a sustainable way. This includes a blueprint to put forward a comprehensive model for child care centers planning and building. As well as a game-like crowdfunding app which leverage the whole implementation Online-To-Offline.

Photo of Soon Leung
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Update 10 Dec 2014 - Blueprint Prototype #1


Prototype Show & Tell

It's time to take our prototype out and test it with people we’re designing for. In order to push the idea further, we will ask potential users and experts in child development for feedbacks.

Below is the summary for how the blueprint works, please refer to the full version that uploaded here for more detail.

 



Update 8 Dec 2014 - Crowdfunding App Mockup


Fake it till you make it 

Here is a mockup screen to demonstate how a fundraising campaign will look like in the app.
 

 

Update 1 Dec 2014 - Prototyping


Learning from Prototyping

The team created a miniture modular child care centre using LEGO, which is a tangible representation of our idea that could be share and learn from.
 





 


 

The Unmet Needs

  1. Few child care services available for infants and toddlers, coverage and quality are uneven.

  2. Systems are not yet in place to provide adequate training, monitoring and technical assistance necessary for improving quality of programming.

  3. Scant evidence of sustainability.

  4. Before/During pregnancy, parents are lack of healthcare knowledge and preparation for the arrival of newborn 

 

How might we design a systematic approach to deliver child care services and parenting information for low-income communities, in a sustainable way?

After debating various alternatives, the team concluded that one possible solution is the development of an inclusive child care center chain, which not only provides child development services for infants and toddlers in a safe play area, but also teaches parents these techniques themselves so that learning can continue at home.

However, in order to address the question of opportunity costs for parents as well as financial sustainability itself, we believe that it is important to enhance these child care centers with built-in development and economic opportunities for the parents themselves. Combined with a modular design, affordability would be further improved.

 

Modular Child Care Centers, integrated with Opportunities for Parents

The C3 solution essentially consists of 3 key components, namely: 1) a child care & play program, 2) a parenting education program, and 3) job training opportunities, all of which are based in a modular facility to better manage and lower costs. Each facility will be based in a rural village and will accommodate 30-50 children (to-be-confirmed), as as well as an accompanying parent.

  1. Child Care & Play (Core Module #1) - consists of providing children a safe place to play, develop, eat, and sleep. Key UNICEF development activities will include: Talking & Thinking, Moving & Doing, Feelings & Self Learning, and Getting Along with Others. These activities will be coordinated by by paid-instructors. Educational Toys will also be made available to children, which parents will also learn how to make.

  2. Parenting Education (Core Module #2) - consists of providing opportunities for parents to play with their children in supervised classes. Furthermore, parents will have the opportunity to learn additional information regarding health, nutrition, hygiene etc in dedicated lecture rooms for parents. Accordingly, parents will be better equipped to continue teaching their children while at home.

  3. Job Training (Optional Module #1) - Key center related activities such as food cooking, clothes washing, toy making etc, will be open for parents to join. Supervisors will help with training, and once center activities have been provided, any excess services or products can be sold to external customers. For example, once a parent has finished washing his or her family clothes, additional clothes from other families not using the center can be washed for an extra fee.

  4. And more optional modules!

 

Crowdfunding Village Game, achieving Stretch Goals and Beyond

Start-up costs of the child care center will be modular, and will initially be crowd-funded through popular online / mobile village games. We believes that gamers, if given the option, would be willing to supplement their existing virtual good purchases with  physical purchases. For example, when a player is building a village, there would be a new option to purchase a “child care center” for a fee. However, a portion of the fees would actually be used to build a module of a “real” child care center in a rural village. Examples of popular village games include Smurfs Village (Beeline), and FarmVille (Zynga), where we believe adding this feature could be an interesting win-win CSR initiative.

Running costs will mainly consist of teacher salaries, electricity, and food & water etc. While we will aim to keep these costs low, we think it is important that parents continue to (partially) pay for the service, as this will encourage proper use of the service. However, parents will have the opportunity to pay with their “time” by helping run various activities in the centre, such as cooking food and washing clothes. Any excess activities can be sold to external customers for a fee, which can further offset running costs.

We are also following another +Acumen course titled “Financial Sustainability: the Numbers Side of Social Enterprise”, and will be using that methodology to fine-tune the business model and to ensure the idea is financially viable.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

The Child Care Centre started with a facility-based model, targeting children aged 3-6 years, with a focus on school readiness. Higher funding goals will make feeding and hygiene interventions also be incorporated for all young children from birth through age eight years. As well as outreach services to target 'hard-to-reach' populations, such as nomadic or indigenous children, from birth through age eight years. The initial target market will be Nigeria given that it is the country with the largest projected increases in numbers of both birth and child population. Once successful, we would look replicate the program across Africa and then India.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

In order to test our idea, we would like 1) research the cost structure existing child care centers in Africa, 2) build a more detailed to-scale model including modular features in LEGO, and 3) make an one page website to visualise and pitch the concept to collect feedback.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

It would be helpful to have advice from experts or organisations have the experiences in setting up and running a child care centre. Sharing knowledge with us about legal, logistics, grants and resources to operate the crowdfunding platform would also be very helpful.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.

26 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of André Santos Correia
Team

Great visual communication, Lego was very useful in this idea. You definitely covered well this challenge and I think children will benefit from it a lot. The sustainability part is the best, these countries should have those concerns too, too bad these are the most affected by our lack of sustainable behaviour.

Photo of Elimu Community Light
Team

Hi Soon.
I read your idea and try to figure out how it could work easily in developing countries like Tanzania. Basically the idea is nice but it needs to be simplified so as it can be understood and adopted to people with low literacy skills. I like the module you have mentioned in your idea. This idea has some components may be useful to your idea https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/ideas/community-s-daycare-centers-initiative#c-2abf112a6d77457fd3c50ae06d484e5c

Photo of Alexander Brummeler
Team

Thanks for your feedback, fully agree that it needs to be simple to implement, its critical! We like your Community Day Care Initiative as well, lots of comparable ideas, would be great if we can collaborate and try to solve the same issues! We also agree that mothers should ideally participate in the operations of the center, as it will allow them to develop new skills, be close to their children, as well as reduce operating costs.

In terms of implementation, we are thinking that each child care center will be based on a "standard blueprint" which will consist of the main facility, as well as optional modules, ideally designed with local building materials. In terms of educational toys, these would be comparable to those suggested by UNICEF, and therefore easy to play with.

Also, in terms of teaching, one way we think it will be possible to standardise it and keep things simple is by using "guides" or "scripts" which instructors (even with limited experience) can follow to teach children. Furthermore, these scripts can possibly be shared with parents, who would take them home, such that they can continue developing their children outside formal class time.

Overall, we are thinking of a "school in a box" type concept, to keep things simple and easy to implement, while ensuring that quality and consistency is maintained across different child care center locations.

We are currently working through the financials of our concept, but am looking for some help regarding costing data. Have you worked through those yet for your Community Day Care Initiative?

Alex

Photo of Elimu Community Light
Team

Thank you for expression interesting. The Community Day Care Initiative is just an idea. Though I have set as a project concept note to one partner for funding opportunity I have not yet gone further. It is my hope that we can share about progress even after this stage.

Photo of Alexander Brummeler
Team

Hi, thanks again for your feedback. We have been working hard on a prototype, and have just uploaded it. Please take a look at the update above and the full PDF download (http://bit.ly/C3BlueprintPrototypeV1), we are very curious what you think and if you have any other suggestions!

Photo of Elimu Community Light
Team

Great work. I would like to know how Afia assist her child to read story while she has never gone to school?

Photo of Emily Au
Team

Hi, this is a good question. That's the reason and value for Module 2: Parent Education. In Module 2, the parents like Afia can also get a chance to learn something new (e.g. learn how to read a simple picture story book to the kids; learn some simple words) to assist them parenting outside C3.

Photo of Elimu Community Light
Team

Nice I love it

Photo of Guy Viner
Team

Sounds like a fab idea, Soon. We’d encourage you to try some part of this idea out in order to evolve it effectively and share back your learnings here. Check out our tips on prototyping: http://bit.ly/pr0totype We’re excited about what human centered discoveries you’ll make towards strengthening your idea further!

And also, keep in mind that the focus of this challenge is on developing world countries. What elements of this idea might you have to adapt in those contexts? What assumptions would you need to test?

Photo of Guy Viner
Team

P.S. really excited about all the visuals here!

Photo of Soon Leung
Team

Thanks for you advices. Our team have planned to start rapid prototyping on the idea in the coming weeks. And will keep you updated during the process!

Photo of Alexander Brummeler
Team

Dear Guy,

Thanks for again for your input. We have just uploaded our latest prototype (see update above or link below), which incorporates feedback from the community. If you have a moment, please take a look and let us know what you think! Thanks.

http://bit.ly/C3BlueprintPrototypeV1

Alex

Photo of Afzal Habib
Team

Hi Soon, Emily and the rest of the c3 team!

This is an interesting proposal - I love how DATA DRIVEN it is with lots of backup images and research. Also, I think your move-forward plan is simple and will be very effective.

I run a similar organization to what you are pitching in Nairobi, Kenya called Kidogo (www.kidogo.co) and we are probably about 6mo-1yr ahead of you on research / implementation. We're MORE THAN happy to share our learnings, ideas, and challenges with you as you move forward on implementing C3 in Nigeria and are also excited to learn from you!

Some ideas to jog your thinking:

- How can you make sure that the centres are financially sustainable? Having donors / CSR programs chip in is an effective way to cover start-up costs, but using the same sources for operating costs can open up risks.
- Perhaps a deeper dive into learning more about your customers needs, abilities, and aspirations should be part of your action plan... this will help inform your financial model and your 1 page website pitch!
- Be sure to focus not just on planning for the physical building but also what goes on inside with regards to programming.

Best of luck and let us know how we can be of help as you move forward!

Photo of Emily Au
Team

Hi Afzal, thanks for your comments and happy to see your sharing of your startup, Kidogo. Regarding the financially sustainable, we did consider it from two aspects:
1) How to finance the startup cost of the centre? The game-like crowdfunding platform is proposed to generate the startup cost.
2) How to finance the ongoing activities in the centre? The suggested services and activities in the center will be launched by module. We plan to provide the higher priority service first (e.g. basic child care from aged 1.5-5. Then, the next step is to provide jobs (e.g. Tinker with Nature “Design kits”, https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/ideas/tinker-with-nature and Scarecrow-Garden https://openideo.com/challenge/zero-to-five/ideas/garden-scarecrow) for parents, so that the parents can also earn money by spending time in the center. As the center getting popular to the community, the next step is to provide parenting information and training to the parents and parents-to-be.

Photo of Simon Fich
Team

Hi Afzal,

Thanks for connecting.

First of all, congratulations on the progress you have made since winning the Amplify challenge. Very interesting.

We would love to connect with you. Would you be ok to connect via Skype with our group in the next week or so?

Simon

Photo of Alexander Brummeler
Team

Hi Afzal,

Your Kidogo initiative looks great, hub & spoke model is really interesting. We were also thinking of a modular approach to manage costs better, but also to allow the center to grow and add additional services / job workshops over time. We think that adding "workshops" where parents can engage in complementary economic activities such as washing, cooking, toy making, etc will reduce the opportunity cost (versus farming) for parents, offset running costs, and provide educational benefits for parents, particularly mothers. These workshops will not only help with the running of the day child care center, which will need these products / services, but any excess products / services can be sold to third parties for extra income. An important "side" benefit will be the opportunity to educate the parents on how to look after and develop their children in terms of playing games, social interaction, etc but also nutrition and hygiene, including the benefits of proper toilet usage. Accordingly, we hope that parents can continue to support the development of their children when they are at home having been exposed to "best practices" at a child care center.

Alex

Photo of Jessica Mason
Team

I was just about to chime in and say you guys should get in touch with Afzal but it looks like he beat me to it! I love the two-generational thinking you are applying here and am looking forward to watching your idea progress.

The one thing I would add to Afzal's comments/questions is that we have two big issues in early childhood education (and international education more broadly): one is access and one is quality. Your team seems to be making great progress on the access front, and this is a really critical first step. If we're really thinking about early brain development and helping children reach their developmental potential, it's also important to think concurrently about quality. How might we use design thinking and this platform to generate new ways to ensure quality in the C3 centers and particularly quality that is low-cost and sustained? Are there new things we could be doing inside the classrooms, in the parent groups, or even that parents and children could do at home as part of this model to really ramp up the positive impact on children's development?

Photo of Alexander Brummeler
Team

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for your comments, fully agree that quality assurance is critical. One idea is to use a similar system as Bridge International Academies, where teachers make extensive use of "scripts" (rather than trying to verbalise in their own words the content of a text book) when teaching children. While arguably less creative, by following these standardised scripts, teaching is more consistent across time and place, and there is less reliance on highly qualified / skilled teachers, which may be difficult to find in rural areas.

In the case of a child care center, the idea maybe is that we again develop a "script" or "manual", which contains all the different UNICEF based development "lessons" a child can benefit from, and can be easily followed by teachers. Furthermore, we can imagine there are clear "instructional diagrams" painted on the walls of the center on how educational toys can be used, which the children's parents can also learn from, again so that development continues at home.

Any other ideas welcome!

Alex

Photo of Alexander Brummeler
Team

Dear Afzal, Jessica,

Thanks again for your feedback. We just uploaded our latest prototype (see update above or link below), which incorporates input from the community. Please take a look and let us know what you think! Thanks!

http://bit.ly/C3BlueprintPrototypeV1

Alex

Photo of Robert Eikelboom
Team

One of the critical factors to the long-term success of the project is finding a revenue-based model for the Centers. Somehow the parents must chip in for at least 60% of the normal operational costs. Do you think that is feasible?

Do you have any rough estimate what the cost per child are?

The urgency for your idea is clear, but the revenue model seems difficult. Still, I would be love to help think about the financial side of the project.

Good luck,

Robert

Photo of Simon Fich
Team

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the feedback. We have been considering various revenue models:
1. A straight forward fee based model.
2. A donation model through online games. Buy a Smurf berry and part of the cost of the berry goes to charity.
3. A time-based model where the parents donate time to help run the center.

We haven't done the detailed financial modeling yet.

We would love input on this part from the community.

Simon

Photo of Alexander Brummeler
Team

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the feedback, we are working hard to make the numbers work so that the idea is sustainable, Accordingly, in addition to the traditional fee based model to finance operating costs, we would actually like to give parents / mothers the opportunity to earn some money at the day care center to offset these fees.

Potential job opportunities we are thinking about include cooking, and washing, as well as toy making. Firstly, this will lower the cost of running the center, and secondly earn extra income if the services are offered to external customers. For example, once all the clothes for the children and their families are washed, the mothers can continue to wash other peoples clothes for an extra fee. Similarly, use of the kitchen can be stretched once sufficient food is cooked for the children and their families. Another benefit we feel is important with this model is the "indirect" opportunity to educate the parents regarding hygiene and nutrition.

In terms of the donation model to cover start-up costs, we would like to talk to the game developers behind Smurf Village, FarmVille, Hay Day etc and see what the possibilities are of introducing a "virtual child care center" as part of their CSR initiatives into their fantastic village building games. As an extension to Apple's recent RED initiative, we believe gamers may be interested in supplementing their traditional virtual good purchases with ones for charity. Wouldnt it be great if gamers had the option to add a fun Child Care Center to their virtual villages, where the purchase proceeds would be used to crowd-fund the start-up costs of a real life Child Care Center in Africa?

Any ideas welcome!

Alex

Photo of Alexander Brummeler
Team

Hi Robert,

Thanks again for your suggestions. We just uploaded our latest prototype (see update above or link below), incorporating as much feedback as possible. Please take a look and let us know what you think!

http://bit.ly/C3BlueprintPrototypeV1

Alex

Photo of Emily Au
Team

Hi Soon, Thanks for posting the idea.
I think this idea also solve the following problem"
-Before/During pregnancy, parents are lack of healthcare knowledge and preparation for the arrival of newborn

Photo of Emily Au
Team

Also, the people who benefit from this idea should be included parents or parents-to-be

Photo of Soon Leung
Team

Agreed, I have just updated the entry.