Support for Comprehensive Early Childhood Services - Primokiz Pilots 


What is Primokiz?

Primokiz is an evidence-based program developed by the Jacobs Foundation for increasing access to quality early childhood services for young children. The Jacobs Foundation has awarded ISSA the license, which ISSA sub-licenses the program to interested Members and partners. Using the well-established knowledge brought by Jacobs Foundation’s Primokiz approach together with the experience and results from the INTESYS project, ISSA continues to work on enabling policies and practices for building integrated early childhood services across countries. 

By working directly with local governments, the Primokiz program is aimed at building a sustainable local infrastructure of knowledge and capacity for developing and implementing responsive and comprehensive early childhood strategies. A highly participatory process rooted in the local context, that mobilizes and connects the political commitment with the local expertise and resources, and the needs of the children and families in the communities. 

Primokiz is primarily a process-focused program through which collaboration and coordination across sectors are established driven by the commitment to improving children’s life, development and wellbeing in communities. Led by local governments, cross-sectoral teams work together to collect data, develop data- and vision-based local strategies and implement measures aligned with the acknowledged needs of children and families in their respective communities.


Primokiz pilots in Romania and Slovenia

Since 2018, the ISSA Secretariat together with ISSA Member, Step by Step Center in Romania, in collaboration with UNICEF have been piloting the Primokiz approach in 21 cities under the Romania Grows with You project, funded by the Jacobs Foundation. The pilot ended in December 2022.  

The Slovenia Grows with You initiative, funded by the Jacobs Foundation, began in 2020 and has worked in eight cities piloting new ways for designing, planning and delivering responsive and demand-driven services for the youngest children and their families through enhanced cooperation and coordination at local and national levels. The pilot intervention ends in June 2023.


Primokiz in Hungary and Ukraine 

The war in Ukraine has demonstrated that many families who have fled are reluctant to access formal services in Hungary. Similarly, service providers have limited capacity to receive them. In Ukraine, formal and non-formal services need to be bolstered in order to support their work in providing a nurturing learning environment for internally displaced children, but also to ensure better coordinated services after the war. With support from the Minderoo Foundation, ISSA Members, Partners Hungary Foundation and the Ukrainian Step by Step Foundation (USSF) received training in 2023 and support from ISSA on using the Primokiz Approach to build capacity at local level. As part of the sub-licensing process, both organizations will translate the Primokiz Handbook and accompanying tools into Hungarian and Ukrainian. The approach will be rolled out in six municipalities in Hungary.                                      


Overview of project phases and the Primokiz Handbook

What is included in the Primokiz methodology?

The Primokiz methodology outlines the main arguments for investing in early childhood services and offers a structured seven-phased process for building local leadership to develop and improve local early childhood services, across sectors, with the contribution of trained Primokiz facilitators.

The methodology provides guidance for key steps in the process — the Primokiz Handbook and its resource package (tools for running a situation analysis, for drafting a strategy, for developing an implementation plan, samples of tools used in different countries, etc.), as well as expert advice on facilitation of the process.


How does Primokiz work? Key steps in the process:

  • Establish the political buy-in of local governments for working towards improving the early childhood services in communities so as to best meet the needs of young children and their families
  • Set up local cross-sectoral teams led by the local government
  • Carry out a locally led situation and needs analysis bringing together specialists and practitioners across early childhood sectors, local government representatives, families, and members of the community
  • Based on the needs identified, decide jointly on short-medium-long term priorities for improving the early childhood services across sectors
  • Develop a cross-sectoral early childhood strategy/action plan (or embed it into the existing local development strategies) reflecting the jointly decided priorities
  • Approve, fund, and implement the action plan that promotes local partnerships and stakeholders’ involvement
  • Monitor the implementation of the plan.


Publications and Materials

Inter-sectoral coordination in early childhood systems: the Primokiz approach by Konstantina Rentzou, Mihaela Ionescu, Philine Zimmerli, and Cristiana Boca. 

Primokiz flyer



Program Director at ISSA introduced the Primokiz approach during ISSA Connects for Learning 2023 in Opatija, Croatia.

Thanks to the implementation of the Primokiz approach, 16 local development strategies with a strong early childhood development (ECD) component were developed in Romania. 

Recently, six ISSA Members joined a Primokiz training in Romania. The Step by Step Center for Quality in Education shares the network benefit of this workshop.

In February 2023, ISSA trainers and teams from countries already implementing the Primokiz approach provided a training to four additional ISSA Member organizations on the Primokiz methodology.