Early childhood development in deprived urban settlements
Nair, M.K.C. and Radhakrishnan, Rekha (2004) Early childhood development in deprived urban settlements. Indian Pediatrics, 41 (3). pp. 227-237. ISSN 0019-6061
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Poverty, the root cause of the existence of slums or settlement colonies in urban areas has a great impact on almost all aspects of life of the urban poor, especially the all-round development of children. Examples from countries, across the globe provide evidence of improved early child development, made possible through integrated slum improvement programs, are few in numbers. The observed 2.5% prevalence of developmental delay in the less than 2 year olds of deprived urban settlements, the presence of risk factors for developmental delay like low birth weight, birth asphyxia, coupled with poor environment of home and alternate child care services, highlights the need for simple cost effective community model for promoting early child development. This review on early child development focuses on the developmental status of children in the deprived urban settlements, who are yet to be on the priority list of Governments and international agencies working for the welfare of children, the contributory nature-nurture factors and replicable working models like infant stimulation, early detection of developmental delay in infancy itself, developmental screening of toddlers, skill assessment for preschool children, school readiness programs, identification of mental sub-normality and primary education enhancement program for primary school children. Further, the review probes feasible intervention strategies through community owned early child care and development facilities, utilizing existing programs like ICDS, Urban Basic Services and by initiating services like Development Friendly Well Baby Clinics, Community Extension services, Child Development Referral Units at district hospitals and involving trained manpower like anganwadi/creche workers, public health nurses and developmental therapists. With the decentralization process the local self-government at municipalities and city corporations are financially equipped to be the prime movers to initiate, monitor & promote early child development programs, to emerge as a part and parcel of community owned sustainable development process.
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