What was once an old, dilapidated building in a rural village in Grenada has become a beacon for early childhood development in the eastern Caribbean Island.
The Mount Horne Child Development Centre opened its doors in early 2020 to provide structured daycare services for children in the Mount Horne and surrounding communities, in the rural parish of St Andrew.
With funding from the India-UN Development Partnership Fund and technical support from the Government of Grenada and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the child development centre was designed to provide care, protection and educational services to infants and toddlers from low-income families.
Now three years from the Centre’s opening and as the island emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister for Social and Community Development, Housing and Gender Affairs, Philip Telesford, explained that the integrated early childhood approach at Mount Horne, which focuses on nurturing care, is now being replicated throughout the island. Acknowledging that, in some instances, the quality of early childhood services was below par, the Minister thanked UNICEF and the Fund for supporting the Government’s vision.
“We have ensured that all of the necessary elements for quality Early Childhood Development are involved in the process so that our children have the best opportunities that are available to them at the earliest stage of their development,” said Minister Telesford. “This particular model will be used as a patent for early childhood development centres throughout Grenada. That particular centre [Mount Horne] is therefore of paramount importance to the Government,” he added.
Minister Telesford also promised to strengthen legislation to ensure that the standards used at national centres like the one at Mount Horne are enforced in the private daycare system.
Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Social and Community Development, Housing and Gender Affairs, Veronica Charles, stated that the Mount Horne Child Development Centre continued to be important for rural women who are working and/or pursuing higher education.
She added, “We’ve had the challenge where many women were unable to go out and earn a decent living because of childcare issues. Now, they can put their babies and children in a place that is safe, and go out and earn a living.”
The senior public officer outlined a vision for early childhood development that values every child as important and provides nurturing environments that can result in a life that adds value to the society.
“What we are realizing is that children who attended the child development centre, do better when they transition to preschool because they are better grounded at the child development centre, as opposed to a [traditional] daycare centre. The community embraced it; they are making use of the Centre and taking care of the Centre, because it is their own,” said Ms. Charles.
“We stimulate them; we encourage the developmental aspects of their life such as their cognitive development, their communication, their gross motor skills and their fine motor skills,” said Kathy Julien Ramsey, the Centre’s Supervisor, while also stressing the importance of maintaining a ratio of no more than five toddlers per caregiver and three to one for infants. This has led to demonstrable changes in the children.
“I have seen tremendous growth in my daughter. She has transformed from being a shy to a very expressive little girl. The care and attention shown by the employees at the Mount Horne Child Development Centre have helped her to be more expressive”.
“When I am at work, I am at ease,” the young mother concluded.