ISSA and Members: Promoting inclusion of Romani children – through TOY
Combatting segregation of young Romani children and enhancing social cohesion of local communities are the core principles of TOY for Inclusion project, implementation of which starts in the beginning of 2017. Toy libraries and intergenerational learning in early education are the key concepts the project employs. Consortium, led by ICDI (International Child Development Initiatives) and involving international Romani Early Years Network as well as four coordinating organizations of national REYNs, will implement the project locally in six EU countries. For many years now, NGOs as well as international organizations have been reporting about low level of participation of Romani children in early childhood education and care. At the same time, often the same reports highlight strong benefits of early-years’ interventions for children from low socio-economic status families, including Romani children. Project aims to provide a boost in early childhood development to 400 Romani and 100 non-Romani children between zero and eight years of age in six countries of the European Union: Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia, with support from ICDI and ISSA based in the Netherlands. Practitioners, and eventually children and families, from other countries are expected to benefit from dissemination phase of the project, which will be coordinated by ISSA. Results of project activities will be shared through a new website, guides best practice, leaflets, videos and more. Two innovative approaches combined in the project are the toy libraries and intergenerational learning. Toy libraries are aimed to support the lack of toys in families experiencing poverty. In addition, parents receive training in how to best use the toys to develop a child’s skills. In intergenerational learning the project will aim to nurture multigenerational involvement through joint activities between Romani and non-Romani families. The project was awarded a grant from Action grants to support national and transnational projects on non-discrimination and Roma integration launched earlier this year by European Commission and is planned to start in early 2017.