spotlight archive

Supporting the early childhood workforce at scale: The Cuna Más home visiting program in Peru

3 July 2017


The Early Childhood Workforce Initiative (ECWI), hosted by International Step by Step Association and Results for Development, is a global effort to support practitioners. Under ECWI, a series of country studies will examine ways to strengthen and scale up a quality workforce. The first of these studies focuses on Cuna Más, a large-scale ECD program in Peru that operates a home visiting service in rural areas. Cuna Más operates at central, regional, and local levels and builds the capacity of its workforce through induction and training and technical assistance.


As one of few home visiting programs operating – and having been evaluated – at scale in low- and middle-income countries, Cuna Más holds valuable workforce lessons that may resonate more broadly with ECD programs and policymakers seeking to reach young children and families around the world:

  • Supervision in the field is critical for the home visiting workforce, particularly in rural contexts where many workers have limited training or experience and work independently much of the time.
  • In addition to delivering important content, educational materials are critical for empowering community home visitors who may not have the training or experience to otherwise provide guidance to young children and families.
  • It is important to identify and address workers’ travel-related barriers, especially in rural or remote areas
  • Career ladders and pay scales can reward both professionals and volunteers for their dedication, retain and leverage the experience of high-performing individuals, and encourage strong candidates to see working in ECD as a viable career path, rather than temporary employment.


Home visiting is often used to reach vulnerable young children as well as their caregivers. Trained individuals regularly visit a caregiver and child to improve parenting behaviors, the home environment, and impact child outcomes. The Cuna Más home visiting service enjoys relatively high coverage and early results are promising: a recent impact evaluation by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) found large effects on children’s cognitive and language development. However, operating at scale presents challenges to quality and sustainability.
You can find out more about Cuna Más and read a detailed analysis of the program on the Knowledge Hub.

Photo courtesy of Programa Nacional Cuna Más

Innovative Pedagogical Approaches in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE): A Resource Pack

This resource pack, published jointly by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood, includes case studies from nine countries.

The initiative focused on innovative pedagogies with the aim to improve early childhood care and education (ECCE) provision in the Asia-Pacific region. It provides a wealth of knowledge and inspiration from China, India, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Solomon Islands and Thailand.

The report indicates that there is a wide range of priorities in ECCE across countries. While many ECCE programs are established from the existing evidence base, they do not necessarily reflect local needs, priorities or agendas. The conceptualization of “quality” generally takes place in situations where ECE is considered mainly as preparation for school, services are carried out by private providers and the services are separated from the community. 

All of the cases in this resource pack are examples of innovative pedagogies that were developed in tune with their context and with concern for sustainable learning. They show that innovation in ECCE should not rely only on current models or on a “universalized ‘one size fits all’ model”, but more of the on ‘real-life’ approaches that connect the child with the contexts and communities where they are living in, with “praxis”. Innovations in the Asia-Pacific region are often intended to improve entire communities in addition to benefiting children. This is a pedagogy through which lives are transformed. An inspirational read for practitioners, researchers, and policy makers.

Find the pack on the Knowledge Hub.

Professionalisation of Childcare Assistants in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC): Pathways towards Qualification

The Erasmus+ report, “Professionalisation of Childcare Assistants in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC): Pathways towards Qualification,” focuses on reviewing profiles of ECEC assistants in 15 European countries, as well as the professionalization opportunities available to them. The report makes recommendations on how pathways for qualification and continuous professional development (CDP) can be created for assistants. Examples from Denmark, France and Slovenia show some successful pathways in these areas.

Several key findings were introduced in the report. The first is that ECEC assistants are not recognized in policy documents or research. This is unacceptable considering the high number of assistants in the ECEC workforce. Additionally, ECEC assistants have little opportunity to receive the same qualification as a core practitioner. There should be investment in systems that reward the work of all staff, and opportunities to be upwardly mobile at work. This includes increasing the number of opportunities for professional development that assistants have access to. European countries do not generally provide funding for staff’s non-contact time, causing assistants to miss out on reflection time with their teams.

The lack of competence profiles for assistants hinders the holistic approach to childhood development. When the position and competences of assistants are recognized, they are often considered simply technical workers. In fact, ECEC assistants bring diversity to the workforce and aid the ability of staff to engage with diverse children and families. National experts who acted as consultants for this study suggest that more assistants are of ethnic minority backgrounds than core practitioners.

ECEC assistants enrich the workforce, CDP and qualification opportunities should reflect the invaluable work they do.

Find the full report in the ECWI Knowledge Hub.

Early Childhood Workforce in Peru: A country study

Through a series of country studies, R4D will gather and analyze information to formulate actionable policy recommendations for strengthening and scaling up a quality early childhood workforce. The first country study will take place in Peru,  and will examine the country’s early childhood system, as well as the role of community workers who conduct home visiting. 
 
In collaboration with a local research partner, the study will employ a mixed-methods approach to establish both the scope of challenges facing the workforce, as well as key barriers and promising practices for achieving a quality workforce at scale. 
 
The first stage of the study will involve a mapping of the early childhood system  in Peru and an examination of the national policy context. Key guiding questions include: What relevant national and local policies and structures are in place to support the workforce? Who are the key decision makers and stakeholders involved, and what settings and professions comprise the early childhood system? Where possible, this study will look at both national and sub-national levels, as well as across public, private, nonprofit, and informal sectors. 
 
After the analyzing the country system, a specific role within the early childhood workforce will be explored in more depth. Through desk research and local data collection, the study intends to capture the composition of this particular workforce, required competencies and standards, training and professional development opportunities, processes in place for monitoring quality and providing continuous feedback, working conditions and the status of the profession, and available financing. 
 
Informed by the system mapping and examination of a  particular professional role (in the case of Peru, community workers) as well as interviews with key stakeholders, R4D will estimate the size and cost of scaling up this particular workforce and identify major bottlenecks to achieving quality and scale. The study will conclude with policy recommendations, focusing on innovative or promising programs, policies, and mechanisms that can be leveraged to support and strengthen the early childhood workforce.
 
This country study in Peru, together with other country studies conducted, will serve as analytical input for the initiative’s joint learning activities and reveal common themes, issues to tackle, and promising practices across diverse country contexts.