Children grow in an amazingly fast rate during the first few years of life. Tracking the height and weight of a child has been the established parameter of the child’s growth and development. Other than increases in height and weight, children also go through major development stages, which are the easily identifiable skills of walking, running, rolling over, holding a cup, among others, which are referred to as “developmental milestones.” These developmental milestones are certain skills and tasks that a child can do at a certain age range, classified into domains namely fine motor, receptive and expressive language, cognitive, self- help, and social- emotional aspects.
Thus, recognizing the need for the holistic development of the child, the Early Childhood Care and Development in the First 1000 Days (ECCD F1K) Program includes monitoring of development milestones. The ECCD Checklist developed by UNICEF, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Council for the Welfare of Children, Department of Education, and Department of Health through Dr. Lourdes K. Ledesma was envisioned to be used for this purpose. The checklist was designed to help frontline workers assess the child’s development milestones and in turn serves as guide to parent and caregivers on how to help their child develop fully.
A two-day workshop on Exploring the Use of ECCD Milestones Development Checklist for ECCD F1K was held last 24-25 January 2017 for the first batch and 6-7 February 2017 for the second batch. ECCD F1K Provincial Nutrition Coordinators, selected Municipal Nutrition Action Officers, District/ City Nutrition Program Coordinators, and Barangay Nutrition Scholars from all of the program provinces participated in the workshop. The workshop focused on understanding the technical and administrative use of the checklist through discussions, and practicum experience through purchase of toys and other materials for administration of the checklist and the actual use of the checklist with mother- child pairs.
During the workshop, Dr. Ledesma highlighted that the checklist is not intended to be used to label a child’s growth and development as delayed or abnormal. Rather it serves as a monitoring tool to keep track of the developmental status of a child. Based on the discussions during the debriefing, participants agreed that barangay-based health and nutrition workers can do the assessment using the ECCD Checklist, provided that they are trained properly and the Tagalog version of the checklist will be used. Also, a referral system must be established for frontline workers to know the endorsement process for those children who do not fall in the age-specific development.
Workshop results will provide inputs for the rollout of the use of the checklist in ECCD F1K areas.