ICDP trainees at SOS Romania

“International Child Development Programme – strategy to prevent inequalities, social and family violence” (International Child Development Programme - strategie de prevenire a inegalitatilor, violenteisocialesifamiliale) is the name of the project developing in Bacau, 300 km north of Bucarest, Romania.

An ICDP visit to Bacau took place between the 16th and 21st of March 2015, with the purpose of starting to train a group of 5 professionals to become ICDP Trainers. These professionals were selected from a larger group who were  trained in 2014 as ICDP facilitators.

Based on the report by international trainer Pedro Mendes:

The first part of the workshop in Bacau included trainees’ presentations of their own field work with analysis and discussion afterwards. The second part looked at the use of the ICDP programme in different settings, the sensitization principles and qualities required to improve the children’s human environment, the monitoring and assessment tools and the test questions required to become a trainer.

The first session started with a brief review of key points of the ICDP programme. Special focus was placed on the more complex guidelines, such as giving meaning and how to regulate behaviour, and this was done by discussing examples based on trainees' own field work experience.

Each trainee was then asked to go through a colleague-facilitator's field work report. They discussed weaker points or that which could be improved. This proved to be an interesting exercise because it brought up some important issues to light. It revealed the need to be more precise and comprehensive when writing reports, as a report could become useful basis for further intervention work.  In this exercise the trainees compared their findings with their own field reports which was enriching. Discussion about lessons learned from the field showed that the 5 trainees shared some common difficulties, such as mobilizing and gathering caregivers. On the other hand they realized that there was a need to be flexible, to take caregivers background into account, as well as local cultural beliefs, e.g., the belief that children should be kissed only after they are asleep.

Work with videos:
Some videos of the trainees' field work were watched and analysed. The trainees showed to be very sensitive in their approaches to caregivers. The viewing and analysing of the field work videos helped to clarify the difference between 'giving meaning’ and ‘expanding on the meaning’ reinforcing the role of expansion as a key to children’s symbolic and abstract reasoning, critical for learning maths.
Clearly, there is always a certain degree of subjectivity about scoring a filmed adult-child interaction for it often involves personal feelings, concepts and judgements. As expected scoring of observed interactions on the five point Likert scale led to discussions, but it is interesting to note that the differences in individual scoring were narrower than before (i.e. at the previous workshop), meaning that their perception had become more accurate.

Field visit: The 5 trainess went together with Pedro Mendes to visit the day care centre in the SOS village. The purpose of the visit was to observe and make an assessment of interactions with children in a real context. This was a very interesting exercise and the children were very much at ease with trainees. The exercise demonstrated different styles of interacting with children by trainees. Back in the meeting room these interactions were analysed and scored and again there were only minimal differences of opinion among trainees. During the visit the trainees displayed good potential as ICDP trainers and it became clear that they all really loved children and cared about their wellbeing.

The importance of establishing a good contract of trust and how to use a personalised style with caregivers (ICDP sensitization principles 1 and 7) were discussed in great depth at the workshop. The use of empathy as the key to being able to modify caregivers' misconceptions was talked about as an important area of the ICDP work. Keeping a note book with practical examples was also mentioned as important. The meeting stressed how networking can contribute to overcome difficult or critical situations by working together.

ICDP and formal education was a topic that led to a more serious debate on how to implement the ICDP programme in school context when both both the teachers and the administration are rigid and reluctant to make changes. It became clear that unless there is a will to make changes from the top it is practically impossible to make a real difference and to improve things in a school,  particularly when it comes to exclusion and stigmatisation.

Particular attention was also given to monitoring and assessment tools and the need to use them as a means to collect data to demonstrate the impact and efficacy of the programme and the quality of the work accomplished.

Over the next few months the trainees who participated in the workshop are requested to carry out another field work as a condition to be certified as Trainers in the ICDP Programme.