|Organization||Parenting the Future Action Research Center|
Studies showed that more than 50% of rural infants aged from 24 to 30 months in Shaanxi, Hebei and Yunnan demonstrate delay in early development. Accordingly, it is estimated that 4 million rural infants and young children have the same issue at the age of three in China every year, a great challenge without any effective responses at the policy level. To solve this problem, “Rural Education Action Plan” (REAP), a joint project composed of the Center for Experimental Economics in Education, Shaanxi Normal University, Center for Agricultural Policy of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China Center for Agricultural Policy of Peking University and Stanford Research Institute, cooperating with the National Health and Family Planning Commission, carries out the “Parenting the Future: promoting healthy growth of rural children through scientific nurturing, parenting and education” project.
The project aims at promoting the practice and policy advocacy of early childhood development for children aged 0 to 3 in China’s rural areas through practice- and evidence-based research, ultimately promoting stable economic growth and social equity development.
At first, the project provided scientific parenting support for rural parents and young children through home visits by trained nurses, which led to a high cost. Moreover, according to the monitoring of child development, there was still delay in social emotional development due to the lack of social interaction. Therefore, the project began to set up children’s centers in rural areas. The Association supported the establishment of the first 10 pilot centers in 2015. The model is to provide parents with the space for child early development centers in rural or migrant communities. They could bring their babies to participate in the various activities provided by the center every week, while also receiving guidance on how to carry out parent-child activities and reading activities with babies of different ages. Toys and books are offered for borrowing as well. So far, 63 parenting centers have been established in rural areas of Shaanxi. The project team is also collaborating with the government from Ningshan County to validate the effectiveness and explore the implementation approaches to expand the project in the whole county.
However, as the scale expands, the cost of operation starts to rise as well. It is necessary for the project to identify effective ways to support large-scale operation while still ensuring the quality. In 2018, the Association supports the IT system development for the project, which aims at 1) reducing daily operation and management cost while enhancing efficiency through an online platform; 2) supporting relevant research and monitoring project quality through data analysis; 3) providing more feasible parenting support for the users. The IT management system will not only be an important part of a large-scale Implementation plan, but also a useful tool open to other non-profit project for early childhood development.