How are vulnerable children cared for? This is one of the questions Whole Child is exploring in El Salvador as part of our national study on the current quality of childcare. To help us address this question and learn more about the cultural aspects of childcare, we hired a team of four local ethnographers to do a qualitative analysis. Marta, Grazzia, Jacqueline, and Yessenia, all with backgrounds in anthropology, are gathering information to better understand the social and cultural aspects of care in the communities where we are working. By observing the care routines (bathing, feeding, changing, etc.) and interviewing caregivers, they are discovering how both caregivers and children feel about the care being provided. They will also study the relationships between the childcare centers and orphanages and their local communities. The University of Pittsburgh’s Tomas Matza is leading the team for this activity and is overseeing their fieldwork. Their study will shed light on the values and practices surrounding childcare by asking questions such as “What do children need from adults to support their full development?” In the first phase of their work, from May through July, the team will study eight centers. We will keep you posted on their progress!

The qualitative information they gather will complement quantitative data collected and insights learned from a series of evaluation tools. One of the tools we will use is WCI-QCUALS, which is the tool Whole Child International developed to assess the following 10 domains in low resource settings: Administration; Environment; Group Size; Continuity of Care; Primary Care Giving; Freedom of Movement; Interactions between Caregiver and Children; Attachment to Caregivers; Nutrition, Safety and Hygiene; and Security. The national study will be the first of its kind in Latin America and will help guide future childcare programming and policies in El Salvador for years to come.