ECC launches app for parenting children

Thursday, November 21, 2019

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THE Early Childhood Commission (ECC) has launched its 1st 1000 Days app, which is an intervention for changing negative parenting behaviours to achieve positive outcomes for children.

Those targeted are biological parents, adopted parents, caregivers, and anyone tasked with the responsibility of parenting children from birth to two years. The app will provide parents with the information needed to care for children in this age cohort.

The app, which was unveiled at Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday, is free of cost and enables users to know the kind of development that is taking place with their children, track developmental milestones, and be aware of the actions necessary to support their children's developmental needs.

As of December 16, persons will be able to access the app on mobile devices that carry the iOS and Google Play operating systems.

The 1st 1000 Days app is being rolled out on a phased basis. In the first phase, the app will cover pregnancy, infancy and toddlerhood (age zero to two). The second phase will cover the preschool years (age three to five) and the third phase will cover primary years (age six to eight).

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Karl Samuda, who gave the keynote address at the ceremony, commended the ECC for development of the app, which he said will equip parents with vital information in this critical stage of childhood development.

“Early childhood begins before the child is born. The psychological impact that the parent has on the child before it is born has an influence on the child's development throughout his or her life,” he said.

Samuda further noted that development of the app is critical support for the age six to eight cohort to ensure that the needs of this group are being sufficiently met for optimal academic performance.

Meanwhile, ECC Executive Director Karlene DeGrasse-Deslandes said over the years there has been a gap in the extent to which the ECC has been able to serve the zero to two age cohort, many of whom are not enrolled in the formal education system but mainly access the primary health care system through parental visits to clinics.

“Parents of children enrolled in early-childhood institutions (predominantly the age three to five group) have traditionally been able to receive support through their interaction with the school system. As we seek to develop this innovative approach to parent support, it is necessary to begin with our support of parents at the foundational level where there is a gap in provision,” she said.

DeGrasse-Deslandes said rolling out the app in a controlled and phased manner will enable the ECC to gain valuable insight on user interaction, feedback, and the value of the content that is being provided to parents.

“The app in its entirety is a parent support tool for parents of children zero to eight years and will be developed accordingly in phases to support all parents within our cohort,” she said.

Parenting support consultant, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Ytske Van Winden, said the first 1,000 days of life – the time spanning roughly between conception and the child's second birthday – is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations of optimum health, growth, and neurodevelopment across the lifespan are established.

“The first 1,000 days is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a baby's brain and shape a child's ability to learn and grow. In the first 1,000 days, a child's brain develops faster than any other time,” she explained.

“We congratulate the ECC for launching the 1st 1000 Days app. UNICEF is proud to have supported this important initiative. Through this app, parents will have access to reputable sources of high-quality, up-to-date information on parenting children in this critical early-childhood stage,” the UNICEF consultant added.

Van Winden said the app will be linked to the UNICEF's global parenting site at unicef.org/parenting, which has mini master classes, short videos on parenting and fact sheets on every critical stage of parenting.

The 1st 1000 Days app was developed by local software and technology firm, Elyctom Technologies, with funding from UNICEF in the amount of approximately $1.5 million.


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