The RAFI Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund (RAFI-DACF) held an online Grant Awarding Ceremony for KidsLIFE Foundation, Inc. with its partners, Enfants Du Mekong (EDM) and Sto. Nino Agustinian Foundation, Inc. (SNAF) last September 21, 2021.
KidsLIFE Foundation, Inc., headed by Grace “Tita Grace” Ferreros, was established on August 6, 2001 with the goal of providing quality and holistic education and play opportunities for underprivileged children. In its early years, KidsLIFE worked with a day care center in Lahug, Cebu City and the Cebu City Task Force for Street Children. In 2011, KidsLIFE launched St. Michael’s Play Garden to further promote the Waldorf style of education. Since then, they have organized seminars and workshops promoting the holistic approach of Waldorf education, in partnership with various universities, non-government organizations, and local government units.
At the ceremony, Tita Grace shared a quote from Rudolph Steiner: “The heart of the Waldrof method is that education is an art – it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, his heart and his will must be reached, as well as the mind.” According to her, this inspired the creation of PlayCare Home Program or Balay Amuma.
“The program aims to present an alternative model of care and education for young children during today’s coronavirus pandemic,” Tita Grace, KidsLIFE Founder and Executive Director stated during the ceremony.
With the launch of PlayCARE Home Program, KidsLIFE aims to establish a new model for a Daycare Center or a Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP) Program for homeless children, and children living in dumpsites in Cebu City. With its unique curriculum, it offers an alternative way of educating children during the pandemic where social distancing and safety are of primary consideration.
The PlayCare Home Program not only focuses on early education, while adhering to the ECCD policy regarding children’s access to Quality Early Childhood Care and Development (Q-ECCD) Program in the time of COVID-19, but also puts emphasis on encouraging health and nutrition practices among its students and partner parents through Edible Gardening.
“The goal of this project is to provide children from poor families aged 3-5 years old access to an early childhood care and education program that will develop healthy, happy, confident, and resilient children who are ready for formal school and for a sustainable future,” said Tita Grace.
KidsLIFE has been collaborating with various partner organizations, providing not only training workshops, but also support in organizational capacity-building in sustaining a socialized program after project turn-over. For this project, KidsLIFE offers assistance for partner organizations in making a 3-year plan to run and manage the program. This is done by helping create a solid strategic plan, operating policies, and systems to ensure the sustainability of the PlayCARE Home Program.
“Phase 1 of the program focuses on partnership-building and preparation of physical site, including infrastructure repair, indoor and outdoor play facilities, and the production of training videos. This also includes initial training of Child Development Workers (CDWs), Home Mothers, and Parent Mentors, and the development of curriculum and learning materials” shared Tita Gail, KidsLIFE Program Manager.
Some features of the PlayCARE Home Program include the following: an established Home and learning environment for children, and two scheduled learning sessions per day to comply with social distancing protocols. Each Home will be led by a Home Mother and a Parent Assistant, who will be responsible for the care and maintenance of the Home. Children will be accepted for whole day accommodation (from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM). And the PlayCARE Home will serve as a model for the trained Parent Mentors in implementing the program later on in their respective homes.
As part of its initial implementation, KidsLIFE successfully ran the training of CDWs, Home Mothers, and Parent Mentors for partner EDM from September 23 to October 1, 2021, while training for SNAF was held from October 2 to 7, 2021.
The PlayCARE Home Program will benefit a total of 108 children from two (2) locations: homeless families in Barangay San Roque, Cebu City in partnership with SNAF, and families living around the dumpsite in Barangay Inayawan, Cebu City in partnership with EDM.
“We are very proud of you, KidsLIFE, for being in the frontline… literally risking your life for the benefit of the children and underserved citizens,” said RAFI-DACF Junior Executive Director Jenny Lea Menchavez. “Focus on the things that matter to us and the things that we believe in. The belief in what we are doing gives us the power and reinvigorates our spirit. Doing the things that matter to us – for the children,” she added.
“This is the second life for KidsLIFE after 20 years,” stated Tita Grace. She underscores the importance of the role of KidsLIFE partners EDM and SNAF in creating and cultivating networks and communities that promote the spirit of the Waldorf Kindergarten in providing holistic education of young children and underserved communities.
RAFI-DACF granted an initial one-year implementation for the PlayCARE Home project. Grant support for succeeding year/s of implementation will be renewed after a successful evaluation of the first year.
The Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI-DACF) aims to enable communities to champion for children to reach their own potentials. Its Grants Program supports initiatives promoting the welfare and development of children through Early Education and Health and Nutrition.