EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT

Lobby calls for the regulation of childcare in Kenya

Despite enactment of policy in 2017, parents still struggle with childcare

In Summary

•The majority of childcare service providers such as Daycare facilities are privately owned and highly unregulated.

•This forces mothers to find alternative childcare options which include hiring caregivers or nannies to stay at home or taking children to temporary childcare spaces.

A mother checks her baby's diapers
A mother checks her baby's diapers
Image: PEXELS

In 2017, a policy was enacted that was to see children below the age of four years not enrolled in school yet.

The National Pre-Primary Policy of 2017 therefore provided that the young children stay home or in childcare spaces either formal or informal.

Uthabiti Africa, an organisation that accelerates early childhood care and development in Africa, said that this policy highly assumed that the children stayed home with either one of their parents.

That is not always the case as more parents are joining the workforce, making it vital to have proper childcare systems in place.

The state of Kenya’s childcare industry is however very wanting.

The majority of childcare service providers such as Daycare facilities are privately owned and highly unregulated.

“The government is yet to come up with a policy to regulate the care that happens at this level,” Uthabiti said.

While some companies may have the capacity to provide childcare services for their employees' children under the age of four, not all take up the task.

Many employers do not see the business case for childcare provision through institutional-based creches, and there is no law in Kenya to compel them to do so.

This forces mothers to find alternative childcare options which include hiring caregivers or nannies to stay at home or taking children to temporary childcare spaces.

“These spaces can either be in a neighbour’s house commonly known as homecare where a caregiver takes care of 3 to 15 children in their own homes, a rented or own separate space specifically set aside for children to learn and play popularly referred to as day or night cares,” explained Uthabiti.

These unregulated spaces may put children’s well-being at risk of contracting illnesses due to a lack of proper hygiene or proper care because one caretaker may be in charge of a large number of children.

Uthabiti said that the Constitution of Kenya (2010) devolved the responsibility of quality Early Childhood Education and Childcare services to the 47 counties.

“Most counties are however yet to domesticate relevant Pre-Primary and Childcare policies for the delivery of quality services,” they said

With this need still unmet, millions of children could keep on lacking proper early childhood development during that crucial stage in childhood.

Parents too will continue to be affected in 2019, the African Population Health and Research Centre found that one of the major challenges that face working mothers is ensuring their children are properly cared for while they are away.

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