The Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță (FCG) program was launched in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of Education in 2010. Since then over 6,000 children in 43 rural and semi-rural communities have benefited from early education and better nutrition through FCG.
An award-winning program that has been cited as a model by both The Economist and the World Bank, FCG has also been endorsed by the Romanian Ministries of Education and Labor. The development of FCG has been largely funded by the Romanian corporate sector and an American non-profit organization, the Alex Fund. But beginning in 2016, the food coupon component of the program will be funded through the Romanian state budget. See ‘National Expansion‘ section for more details.
Fiecare Copil în Grădiniță incentivizes poor parents to send their 3-5 year old children to preschool and kindergarten (gradinita). FCG targets the very poorest children – those living in overcrowded, inadequate housing in isolated areas without normal access to potable water, heating or health care. In the winter, the unemployment rate is close to 100% due to the reduced need for unskilled labor and low education level of the adults. Through FCG these families receive €11/mo in food coupons if they take their child to gradinita every day. This significantly increases the amount a destitute family has for food. Teachers take daily attendance at 9:00 and post the attendance chart on the classroom wall. OvidiuRo representatives conduct random spot checks of the attendance reports to ensure they are filled out correctly and on time–so parents develop the habit of bringing their children before 9:00 am.
FCG helps prevent school abandonment by:
(1) helping communities make early education a priority, and
(2) incentivizing the poorest parents to send their 3 to 5-year-old children to grădiniță.
Food coupons, conditional on children’s attendance in preschool, have proven to be a highly effective and efficient tool to stimulate destitute, functionally illiterate parents (with an average of four years of schooling) to bring their young children to gradinita regularly. The parents receive €11 in food coupons at the end of the month if their child attends preschool every day. In Romania, the monthly child allowance (which is unconditional) is €20, so this is a significant increase for families surviving on their children’s allowance.
HOW FCG WORKS:
|Each community’s role:
• Local administration convenes an action group to customize the implementation plan to local needs;
• Local council allocates €35 a year per child for clothes and shoes for the children in FCG;
• Implementation team (preschool teachers, social worker, and school mediator) carry out the daily FCG program.
• Allocates €11 in food coupons per month to parents who take their children to preschool every day;
• Allocates €15 per child/year so teachers can purchase school materials of their choosing;
• Provides training to the local implementation team;
• Conducts teacher training workshops in modern teaching methods.
Before FCG I’d have children in first grade who would start crying after writing one line. Adapting to primary school, without having been to preschool, is just too big a leap.”
Claudia Pop, clasa pregatitoare, Apold