Building Partnerships to Promote Early Childhood Development
Community-based childcare centres in Bangladesh: Sustainability and scaling

The first five years of a child’s life form a crucial window of physical, cognitive, emotional, and social growth. Meeting children’s core needs – especially nutrition, health care, safety and security, and education – is critical to their ability to survive and reach their full potential. Due to inadequate childcare and other safety and security risks, many children in Bangladesh never get to pass through the five-year window. More than 30 children between the ages of 1-4 die every day from drowning alone. It is one of the leading causes of death in the country.

Community-based daycare centres are an effective intervention for preventing child drowning. A Bloomberg Philanthropies- funded study indicates a more than 70 percent reduction in drowning deaths for children in daycare. Daycare centres also provide vital early childhood development (ECD) benefits that help children learn and grow to their full potential.

Community-based childcare centres are widely seen as a critical investment in the future of children, one that can ensure cognitive and social development, health, and safety. A recent feasibility study revealed a high level of demand – over 90 percent of respondents – among parents and communities for high-quality childcare centres that address these integrated needs. Furthermore, more than half of parents indicated willingness to contribute in some form to support such services, and a majority also expected that the services be provided and mostly subsidized by government.

The study also shows willingness among stakeholders to coordinate, leveraging and better utilizing resources for improved sustainability. Without continued support to sustain and scale childcare centres and other child protection and development services, children will remain at risk.

Dozens of models are already being successfully implemented in communities across the country, using a diversity of funding, implementation, and governance structures. The purpose of this brief is to present top insights gathered from two studies of these models, to recommend best practices for taking childcare programs to scale in Bangladesh.