The Fiecare Copil in Gradinita Law was a wonderful breakthrough for Romania’s most marginalized young children, but the gulf between legal entitlement and effectively implementing a progressive program is immense.
While the Romanian government allocated the funds for food coupon incentives to poor parents, it did not appropriate financial or human resources for launching and enforcing the program or providing other basic program elements – like training local teams in kindergarten recruitment techniques, parent education, or even the basic data entry procedures demanded by the regulations. It also did not cover related essential costs like appropriate clothes, school supplies, and program monitoring.
Years of investment by OvidiuRo, the Romanian corporate sector, and concerned individuals resulted in a major policy shift when the “FCG Law” was passed BUT that investment can only truly pay off if it becomes an integral part of the fabric of local community life throughout Romania. Consequently, immediately after the secondary legislation was finalized, OvidiuRo took on the proactive role of FCG implementation facilitator, assisting communities in correctly administering FCG and optimizing its impact. OvidiuRo has also served as the initiative’s de facto rapporteur, reporting back to the key government ministries and county officials about problems that arise, proposing solutions, and then communicating the outcomes back to the local implementation teams.
With mayors and school directors responsible for day-to-day operations, OvidiuRo’s role was to inspire, guide, trouble-shoot, and monitor the process so the program is well received and communities maximize its potential to help marginalized children enter primary school with the skills they need to succeed.
As soon as the secondary legislation was signed in January of 2016, OvidiuRo held meetings with authorities in every one of Romania’s 41 counties, informing and instructing local teams in the proper procedures for implementing the program, and taking note of concerns that were broached at the town hall style meetings. Separate meetings were held with the County Council, School Inspectorate, and Prefects. Total participation: 8,000 public employees.
Since 2016, the OvR team has visited 355 marginalized villages in 38 counties, updating over 1400 (400 in summer + 1000 during Read Aloud caravans) local team representatives on FCG legislation & best practices, and reported to 300 county authorities on the progress of the FCG implementation in their counties.
OvidiuRo also has an information line for social workers, teachers, parents and anyone else with questions about the law.
In 2017 OvR produced and distributed desk calendars for mayors, social workers & school principles in 3,000 communities , that highlighted the deadlines for implementing various required procedures of Law 248/2015.
Wall calendars marking deadlines for registration, FCG program enrollment & the school year activities were also distributed to parents in disadvantaged communities.
Monitoring Caravans Map
OvidiuRo’s national TV campaigns encourage parents to register their children in kindergarten and apply for the FCG program. A TV spot was aired before the kindergarten registration deadline in both 2016 and 2017.
Today, as the Agency for Early Education, OvidiuRo focuses on providing high quality education materials, training teachers in how to optimise these new resources, and creating “Hubs for Literacy & Quality Early Education” in disadvantaged areas.
The Read Aloud Caravans bring picture books and reading aloud closer to children, teachers and parents in the poorest communities along the country.
Community Grants help local teams in disadvantaged communities find customised solutions that enable local teams to enroll more poor children in kindergarten.
Reading and Science Corners bring quality educational materials and books in the poorest kindergartens in Romania.
Hopscotch Two is a ten weeks educational module that brings small children and their parents closer to kindergarten, and prepare them for autumn.
Summer programs bring preschool children in poor communities to kindergarten, for 2 weeks, during the summer holiday.
Health Caravans added an important component to OvidiuRo’s projects, by educating both parents and children on hygiene and nutrition, in rural areas.