Representatives of the Public Entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, and of the Ministries of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW), Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports (VWS), Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK) had a three-day meeting on Saba from Monday, November 4 to Wednesday, November 6 to discuss the BES(t) 4 Kids child care program.
This was the 6th work meeting of the BES(t) 4 Kids, an integral program to strengthen day care for 0 to 4-year-old children and after school care for 4 to 12+ children in the Caribbean Netherlands. The project leaders of the public entities and the four ministries and the program manager of the BES(t) 4 Kids program continue to work together on this important project that will benefit the children and their parents in the Caribbean Netherlands.
Quality of child care is the main principle in the BES(t) 4 Kids program. The focus of the BES(t) 4 Kids is on creating a safe and caring environment for children, which is accessible to all parents.
During the three-day work session on Saba, participants discussed which steps have to be taken next and how to prepare all stakeholders to improve their organizations and to provide higher-quality child care.
An important step in this respect is the establishing of the island ordinances child care on each island. The Island Ordinance Child Care provides for a set of quality criteria that each child care organization will have to meet within a certain period. Child care organizations will be required to have a permit to operate. The future Child Care Inspectorate will monitor whether the organizations comply with the criteria.
The Executive Councils of the three public entities will be establishing their child care ordinance before the end of this year and send it to their Island Council for approval, after which the law will come into effect.
During the gathering on Saba this week, the BES(t) 4 Kids partners also discussed what kind of support the partners in this program, can and will provide to the child care organizations so the latter can be ready, now or in the near future, to meet the quality criteria.
Possibilities for support include training programs for the child care staff, providing for additional staff and expertise, improving labor conditions, and offering subsidies to lower costs. The BES(t) 4 Kids partners discussed which organizations might be eligible for this type of support and under which conditions, and how the support will be provided.
On Wednesday morning, November 6, the participants paid a working visit to the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) where they received an update on the Caribbean Vocation Qualification (CVQ) Early Childhood Education training that a group of six daycare teachers, two after-school care teachers, a few teacher assistants of the Sacred Heart primary school and a few others persons recently started.
SCS Director Anton Hermans welcomed the BES(t) 4 Kids delegation. He said the school was very thankful for the support from the BES(t) 4 Kids program. He said that the SCS was pleased to facilitate the CVQ 2 education program, which he noted, would greatly contribute to the quality of child care on the island. CVQ 2 teacher Floyd Pryce showed the delegation the class room which has all features of a day care center.
Also, on Wednesday, Commissioner Rolando Wilson joined the BES(t) 4 Kids delegation in their meeting. The Commissioner said that the BES(t) 4 Kids was a good example of how the various ministries and the Caribbean Netherlands islands are working together to raise the quality of child care. This was the second time that Saba hosted a BES(t) 4 Kids work meeting.