BCF Report On Early Childhood Development

September 8, 2015

The Bermuda Community Foundation [BCF] has released a report — “Zero to Three in Bermuda: What Further Role Can Philanthropy and Government Play to Support Early Childhood Development?” — which takes a look into early childhood development in Bermuda.

A BCF spokesperson said, “Extensive research internationally shows that the period between birth and the fourth birthday [zero to three years] are the most critical years of development for a child. This window of opportunity, once missed, is difficult to impossible to recover.

“It means that a child who has not experienced positive development in its first three years will face extreme challenges at the start of its school career, and may in fact never catch up due to this disadvantage.

“What is meant by early childhood development? This could range from language stimulation for infants through talking, smiling, singing and reading to further education on caregiving practices for parents and professionals.

“The study was driven by a funding initiative. Combined funding from the Hemera Foundation, the Gutteridge Family, the Bank of Bermuda Foundation and private individuals, was donated to an early childhood development [ECD] fund at the Bermuda Community Foundation [BCF].

“BCF commissioned Dr. Edmina Bradshaw to write the report entitled “Zero to Three in Bermuda: What Further Role Can Philanthropy and Government Play to Support Early Childhood Development?”.

“This landmark study also reveals that despite challenges in the field, some bright spots do exist in both the private sector, like Chattertots Discovery Zone and public sector, like Happy Valley Childcare Centre.

“It concludes with recommendations for specific action around four strategic priorities, which include the need for better and more information, and policies and regulations to support the development of the infrastructure needed to coordinate an effective early childhood system across Bermuda.

“The ECD landscape in Bermuda reflects a wide range of programmes and services from the Government, private and nonprofit sectors that target the zero to three population. Much is being done say report contributors.

“However, optimum ECD delivery is strained by stretched Government services, dated infrastructures, fragmented approaches, insufficient financial resources and troubling social issues.

“Suffering overall from a lack of regulation, key concerns highlighted in the report were around a general lack of understanding about ECD in the community; siloed and disjointed programmes and services; lack of adequate qualified professionals; quality care services not readily accessible to all; and sparse and unreliable local data collection.”

Jamie Gutteridge, a Bermuda-based Director of Hemera Foundation and Advisor to the ECD Fund said, “It is our hope that our initial investment in ECD will mobilise efforts to ensure families can access affordable, high-quality early childhood educational programmes.”

Dr. Myra Virgil, BCF CEO, said, “This work includes assessing the quality of early childhood programmes and the training and professional development of its service providers.”

“The report’s findings will be used to map the next steps for improving early childhood experiences for children in Bermuda through practitioners, parents, government and funders. For example, funders who have previously invested in early childhood initiatives will be invited to read the report with a view to making future or further investments.

“People interested in making an impact on the lives of young children can join funders like the Hemera Foundation, the Bank of Bermuda Foundation, the Gutteridge family and others by contributing to the Early Childhood Development Project and Research Fund at BCF.”

The executive summary of the report is below, and for a copy of the full report, please contact info@bcf.bm.

The “Zero to Three” executive summary follows below [PDF here]:

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