How to raise the quality of child caregiving in Bangladesh?

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While we talk about children’s development in their early years, the importance of having access to quality child caregiving services often gets overlooked. Sifat Hossain, a schoolteacher from Dhaka, Bangladesh said: “As a working mother I always have to think about with whom I can leave my child safely with while I am away. Having access to quality childcare is important to not only allow me to continue working, but also give my child the opportunity to interact with other children for her overall development.”

Child caregivers play a pivotal role in developing children’s physical and cognitive growth, helping them reach their full potential and are better prepared to contribute to the economy.  While there are many possible types of childcare providers, depending on the needs and means of the households, center-based childcare provision is a critical part of the solution set, especially in urban areas. Based on a survey of 172 child caregivers and 48 managers across 19 government, 20 private and 28 NGO childcare centers across six divisions conducted between February-March 2021, we sought to understand what is required to raise the quality of center-based child caregiving in Bangladesh. 

Who is the average child caregiver in Bangladesh?

Center-based child caregivers in Bangladesh are predominantly young females with a relatively high level of education. Most caregivers hold a bachelor’s or a master’s degree (42 percent), which is relatively high compared to the national average (11 percent) of the service-employed population of the same age group. However, around two-thirds of the child caregivers did not receive any training on child caregiving services before joining their current role. 

Are the existing training programs adequate for child caregivers in Bangladesh?   

A review of several widely used training programs across different types of training providers show that early childhood care and education practices are well recognized in the existing training programs , but still have areas for further improvement. Around 86 percent of caregivers responded that they felt the need for more training. Critical areas where caregivers felt more training is required include: socio-emotional development, inclusion and special needs, guidance and discipline, physical activity and play  (see Figure 1). These areas require more practical training which caregivers develop over time with mentoring and support from experienced professionals. Clearly, there is a need to develop a national training and accreditation system to meet the skills needed of caregivers to reduce the current fragmentation in training delivery. 

Figure 1: Areas covered in Child Caregiving Trainings versus Perceived Training Needs by Caregivers

Areas covered in Child Caregiving Trainings versus Perceived Training Needs by Caregivers
Source: Based on Authors' estimates of Childcare Survey, 2021


Do the caregiving centers provide a well-rounded environment for both children and caregivers?

Even with the quality skills training, child caregivers require an enabling environment to deliver quality services. The sanitary, health and nutrition conditions as well as quality of learning and playing materials play a key role in determining the quality of a caregiving center. But these vary  across the different types of centers, with the government institutions falling behind the private and NGO centers. Moreover, there is an absence of a national quality assurance system for child caregiving leading to variation in the quality of service delivery. For instance, government-managed centers were found to be less adapted to special needs children in comparison to private and NGO centers.

Recruiting and retaining qualified caregivers and managers is also a challenge with better financial benefits and government certification needed for better caregiving professionals in the sector. 

Figure 2: Childcare Center Environment

Childcare Center Environment
Source: Based on Authors' estimates of Childcare Survey 2021


How can Bangladesh raise the quality of child caregiving?


Read the full report here. This is the final part in the two-part series on childcare in Bangladesh.

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