Huge numbers of poverty-stricken migrant populations move to cities for income earning opportunities and the needs of their children are neglected. The construction sector in India is one of the largest employers of labour in the country, and about 10% of its workforce constitute women.
Absence of a social network to look after children, while both parents are at work creates a huge divide in the growth, health and education of children of construction workers.
Absence of appropriate nutrition in the early years impacts the growth, well-being and brain development of the child. In 2015, early childhood development was included in the Sustainable Development Goals, reaffirming its growing status in the global development agenda
Focusing on early childhood care, and prevention of nutrient deficiencies have long-term and widespread benefits for individuals and societies. Sampark runs creches – day care centers in Bangalore, for children of construction workers in the age group of above 6 months and under 14 years. Creches offer a safe environment and ensure cognitive, social and emotional development of a child. They recieve nutritional and immunization support, and a stimulating environment to learn with fun through a non-formal education programme. Since 2007, Sampark has established about 50 creches in various labour colonies in Bangalore and has reached out to more than 9,000 children of construction workers
Health check-ups are conducted periodically to check for illnesses, nutritional status and gaps in growth of children. Regular diseases like cough, cold, skin rash, fever are identified, and medicines are prescribed by doctors.
Linkages with Public health centres(PHC) or hospitals are done for children who need regular treatment and medication. Children are linked to PHCs to receive their age-appropriate immunization. Follow-up is done with parents to ensure they are taken on a timely basis. Children receive multivitamins and supplements to tackle iron deficiency and to ensure better absorption of nutrients.
Pregnant women in the labor colonies are identified and linked to anganwadi centres to receive their mother cards. Mother cards provides regular nutrition and pre- and post-natal medicines to pregnant women and lactating mothers
Each category of children follow a set age-appropriate curriculum. Children are taught in 3 languages – Hindi, Kannada and English as they come from different states. According to the curriculum there are activities for the holistic development of children such as physical, linguistic, social and numerical abilities.
Creches are equipped with fun learning materials, toys, puzzles, colouring books and charts which stimulates a fun learning environment for children. Child-friendly furniture and equipment ensures children reach out to learning materials by themselves and involve in their favourite learning activity. Basic alphabets, numerals and songs are introduced to them, which help in their school readiness.
Sampark teachers have facilitated admissions for over 500 children – of above six years of age- into government schools in compliance with the Right to Education Act of the Government of India. Schools respond positively to children who have attended Sampark’s creches, as children reach learning levels comparable to their peers.
Sampark closed all 17 creches from 13th March 2020 to May 2020 due to the pandemic. With the recent update from the Education Department, creches are allowed to remain open for the first half of the day. Children are still not allowed to be gathered in the creches.