23 Oct 400 Cities that have been quietly implementing ECD since 2006
Here is some news about a very interesting trip to Germany in early October to observe the operation of the National Centre for Early Prevention (NZFH), and to discuss NZFH participation in the CEPPs ‘Sister Cities’ Program. The NZFH coordinates the federal and state-funded Early Childhood Care (ECD) Networks that have been providing health and social care in hundreds of cities and municipalities across all 16 Federal States, for over 10 years.
We were also invited to visit the city of Pforzheim and meet members of the local ECD network. It was the opportunity to hear about the integrated services provided to mothers, infants and young children and sharing knowledge and best practice.
The Pforzheim ECD network began operation in 2006
The rationale at the origin of Early Childhood Prevention in Germany in 2006
In Köln at the NZFH headquarters, CEPPs met with NZFH leaders, including Ilona Renner, head of research. The rationale for NZFH was explained; “Germany has a broad and intricate network providing various means of early intervention and support for families. However, individual models as such do not comprise good offers of support for families. Rather, this can succeed only in the framework of a comprehensive and differentiated network of ‘early interventions’.” The name ‘Early Prevention’ emphasises the focus on early intervention as a preventive measure against problems that may arise later, and which are more serious and costly to treat.
A 10-year success story for ECD and Early Prevention in Pforzheim
To understand this in practice, CEPPs visited the city of Pforzheim and surrounding Enzkreiz (pop. together 300,000), which became an NZFH ‘early-adopter’ city in November 2006. The city-based Early Childhood Care Network involves multiple sectors, including health, social services, child protection, police and justice, and requires collaboration between over 40 different service providers. Together they are responsible for delivering a continuum-of-care and protection for mothers and young children from pre-conception to pre-school.
Pforzheim is a diverse city and has a large migrant population, with social welfare recipients 40% above the state average and a birth rate 12% above the national average, yet infant mortality is 30% lower than the national average. This provides an indicator of achievements being made in many areas of early childhood care, which we will be highlighting in a separate post.
NZFH research and reports provide valuable information for other cities involved in ECD
The city networks are subject to ongoing monitoring to ensure the quality of service, with metrics consolidated and reported at local, state and national levels. Formal Quality Circles exist in each city to promote cross-sector collaboration and continuous improvement, with regular research projects used to validate new approaches. This data is aggregated by the NZFH Research team in Köln. The results are published in reports and professional journals and provide a very valuable resource for other cities or countries involved in ECD implementation. Read more (right click to read in your language).
An example: ‘‘Pilot ECD projects in the German federal states – a summary of results’
Pforzheim joins the ‘CEPPs Sister Cities’ program
In Pforzheim we were delighted to visit the neo-natal and obstetrics department of the Helios Clinic, part of the NZFH network, accompanied by the director, Dr. Thomas Bernar, and Dr. Rupert Linder, co-founder of CEPPs. Together we then met the Mayor for Child and Youth Welfare and Education Ms. Monika Müller, other obstetricians and gynaecologists and representatives from welfare and social services. The local system and multi-stakeholder network were well represented. At this meeting it was agreed that Pforzheim would sign the CEPPs City Statement of Support and be willing to share their experiences implementing ECD with ‘Sister Cities’ involved in similar initiatives. We extend our sincere thanks to Bürgermeisterin Monika Müller and her team for their generous offer to support the CEPPs Sister Cities program.
An invitation to researchers and cities involved in ECD
This is an exciting milestone for the CEPPs Sister Cities program and its goals of sharing ECD knowledge and best practice to cities and countries around the world. The support of Germany is invaluable, bringing 10 years’ research and experience implementing ECD networks in over 400 cities of varying sizes. We invite cities and countries wishing to share experiences, to contact us regarding the CEPPs Sister Cities program.
And once again a sincere thank you to BZFH in Köln and the city of Pforzheim for their welcome and generous offers of support.
Awareness of the importance of the early intervention is growing and becoming a worldwide topic. Our societies need to provide nurturing care for their children and families, if we want to build healthier, fairer and more peaceful societies.
Valerie Unite, Executive Director, CEPPs Global Initiative