Catco Kids Childcare Centers
Catco Kids Childcare Centers
In 2003, Catco Kids™ began a social enterprise program in Pakistan, as its contribution towards developing a National Childcare System in the Country.
Daycare centers are relatively a new concept in Pakistan. In addition, the other private daycare centers are expensive and lack basic facilities. As a result, many women are bound to leave their jobs.
In many countries, childcare centers are regulated and licensed, yet, in Pakistan, there is no accreditation body that regulates the childcare centers. The other informal support system commonly used in Pakistan includes maids and nannies; maids are hired at low cost and trained to take care of children at home. In addition, the family structure in Pakistan is mostly a joint family system, so the grandparents, with the help of maids, take care of the children when the parents go out to work. As a result, untrained caregivers pose safety issues and various incidents of child abuse occur with children.
There are three challenges that parents confront in finding high-quality child care: If care is available and affordable, often it is not of high quality. If childcare is available and of high quality, it is often unaffordable. Finally, it may not be available for all: urban areas may have more availability of childcare facilities than in the rural areas.
In an effort to tackle these challenges, Catco Kids came up with a solution, opening its first Employer-Sponsored Child Care Center in Pakistan in 2003.
While there are a number of possible childcare solutions to address these challenges, Catco Kids employer-sponsored childcare center aims at eliminating all three challenges at the same time, using a three-fold approach:
1. Availability: By providing exclusive or priority enrollment to the employees of the employer sponsor, a work-site child care center provides employees with access to high-quality care, including care for infants and toddlers. In addition, the operating hours and days are tailored to match work schedules, providing childcare during times when employees often have the most difficulty finding care.
2. Affordability: Many employer-sponsored centers have sliding-scale parent fees or scholarship programs based on household income to assist employees. Other employers choose to contribute ongoing support to the center to make the fees affordable for all of their employees.
3. Quality: Catco Kids childcare centers meet the higher-quality standards to provide quality care for children and peace of mind for employees. The Cost, Quality, and Child Outcomes in Child Care Centers Study – which examined the influence of childcare on development over four years – showed that high-quality care positively predicts children’s cognitive and behavioral performance well into their school experience. When working parents know that their children are taken care of in a high-quality setting, they can better focus on work.
However, this does not address the issue completely, especially for those parents who are working for organizations that do not have an on-site, high-quality, employer-sponsored center. For this purpose, Catco Kids is also working with various organizations such as TheInternational Labour Organization (ILO) to develop a framework for childcare centers in Pakistan, so that the issue of affordable, high quality care can be resolved. It will also help create a regulatory body, which will assist in monitoring quality of all childcare centers throughout Pakistan.
The ILO has, since then, worked with the Sindh and Punjab Governments in organizing stakeholder conferences and advocating for the cause.
Future Goals for Catco Kids include:
1. Promoting accessibility by creating more high quality centers, including employee based, community based centers.
2. Work with the ILO and various organizations to create childcare framework and implementation of the same.
3. Training of childcare providers.
4. Research and impact evaluation of the project.
5. Look for funding opportunities and partnership with organizations to open more community-based childcare centers in rural areas of Pakistan.
6. Advocacy for implementation of all of the above, including childcare quality systems and mechanisms.
7. Technical consultancy for design and implementation of childcare centers.