The director and two teachers from First Presbyterian Nursery School in Santa Monica, California, paid an inspiring visit to Whole Child in El Salvador. “First Pres” is a renowned L.A.-area preschool that puts into practice many of the principles that our work is based upon; it has trained professionals from around the world in its child-focused approach based in the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy. This visit was in preparation for our planned visit to First Presbyterian with Salvadoran government officials later this fall.

This meeting was an opportunity for our colleagues from First Presbyterian to see firsthand some of the successes and challenges of implementing quality care in the limited-resource settings we work with in El Salvador. Together, we visited early childhood centers that a few years back received support from Whole Child’s training in quality centers, relationship-based care, and improvement of spaces, and it was satisfying to see the ongoing impact of our work. We also visited sites that will receive support through the USAID Protection & Quality of Care for Children Project. Throughout the visit, the First Presbyterian team, Whole Child staff members, center directors, and government representatives all shared ideas on how best to support continued improvements to quality.

First Presbyterian, USAID, and Whole Child staff visit El Salvador childcare centers that have received Whole Child support, along with other partners. (Left) First Pres teachers Virginia Martínez and Anne Berteen and Director David Kelly with Whole Child Founder & CEO Karen Spencer. (Center) Whole Child Chief of Party Wendy McFarren; Virginia Martínez; Directora de Escuela Parvularia Gabriela Mistral; Anne Berteen; Candy Guadalupe Hernández Barahona and Erika Hernández from the El Salvador Ministry of Education; Docente de Escuela Parvularia Gabriela Mistral; David Kelly; Whole Child’s Early Child Care & Development (ECCD) Advisor Pilar Fort, USAID Foreign Service Officer Julie Grier-Villatte; and Whole Child Director of Programs Katherine Neidorf.