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Programme to uplift teenage mothers unveiled

The struggle of balancing work, studies, and raising young children, especially for teenage mothers, has posed a challenge, forcing parents to put their careers on hold.

Reports have attributed the lack of proper childcare systems as a barrier for young women to accessing both formal and informal labour markets, compounding the problem of unemployment among women aged 18–34 years.

To address this, the Organisation of African Youth Kenya (OAY), funded by the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), has rolled out a programme to support adolescent mothers in accessing affordable and high-quality infant care options so that they can access education and work to advance their careers while supporting their families.

The initiative, dubbed ‘Tunza Bora Project’ targets to strengthen the daycare ecosystem in the informal settlements of Kisumu and Nairobi counties to enhance the employability of young teenage mothers.

Kisumu County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Education, Technical Training, Innovation, and Social Services, Mr. John Awiti, lauded the programme, saying it would transform the childcare sector.

According to Awiti, the initiative would augment the implementation process of the new Early Childhood Education and Childcare Facility Act 2023 passed by the County Assembly to streamline the operations of all baby care facilities in the region.

Awiti, who made the remarks on Tuesday during the unveiling of a baseline survey on the status of childcare services in the country in Kisumu city, said the new legislation aims to regulate the childcare facilities by ensuring they are registered to enhance quality standards for child protection.

“The Department of Education is passionate about childcare. The Kisumu County Assembly embraced all the players in childcare services to pass the Early Childhood Education and Childcare Facility Bill in a quest to improve the quality of childcare in the region,” Awiti stated.

The report conducted in Kisumu and Nairobi Counties in December 2022 by OAY established that 62.5 per cent of the caregivers in childcare facilities lack basic training on providing quality care services to young children.

The National Coordinator of OAY, Mr. Michael Asudi, explained that the gaps in the daycare ecosystem unearthed during the study in the two counties mirror the sector’s challenges experienced across the country.

“There is a growing demand for childcare services, especially in the informal settlements, amidst the changing family structures, causing a crisis in the unregulated childcare ecosystem,” Asudi stated.

OAY Programmes Officer Ms. Sheila Chepkirui, speaking at the same occasion, underscored the need to develop strong care systems to support children below the age of four as their mothers seek employment opportunities.

“Tunza Bora basically targets marginalised and vulnerable teenage mothers from rural and informal sectors, where probably the mother is a single parent or they have both parents but they have to work every day to earn a living, so it’s very hard for young mothers to cope with the challenges,” Chepkirui stated.

As an intervention, the programme has offered capacity training to 32 young women-owned SMEs in the child care economy to reinforce knowledge of good hygiene practices and responsive caregiving and operation according to the set standards.

“For the past six months, we have had intensive training for the childcare givers. This training involves business administration, the infant care framework, child development for the well-being of the child, and building partnerships with families and communities for them to also make profits,” Chepkirui stated.

By Robert Ojwang’

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