Scaling Early Childhood Programs

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The following cases on scaling up early childhood programs have been developed with funding from the Bernard van Leer Foundation

All the cases in this collection are free and open to all. Teaching plans are also available free of charge to qualified instructors. To download teaching plans, please register for Educator Access by creating an account (notification received within 2 business days) or signing in.

 

Multimedia Case
Criança Feliz: Brazil’s Ambitious Early Childhood Program
#2219.0 - April 2021

Faculty Lead: Julie Boatright Wilson
Case Author: Anjani Datla

Abstract: In October 2016, Brazil launched one of the largest home visiting programs in the world—Criança Feliz (or Happy Child). The flagship program aimed to reach the country’s most vulnerable pregnant women and young children. Even under ordinary circumstances, the task of scaling up a national home visiting program in the biggest, most populous country in South America, with extraordinary geographic and ethnic diversity, would have been daunting. But to complicate matters, Criança Feliz’s arrival coincided with one of the most tumultuous periods in Brazilian politics.

Learning objective: This case provides an in-depth account of the successes and challenges of launching and scaling up an ambitious home visiting program. It offers lessons for policymakers and experts alike.

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Case Study
By Design: The Thinking Behind Uruguay Crece Contigo Planners Mull Ambitious Early Childhood Model in Chile (A)
#2220.0 - May 2021

Faculty Lead: Julie Boatright Wilson
Case Author: Pamela Varley

Abstract: This is the first case in a two-case set that explores why likeminded policymakers in Uruguay and Chile, focused on the same basic problem, made very different choices in designing a government program to tackle it. Overall, this case pair showcases the decision-making process of Uruguayan political leaders in creating a broad national program to address problems in early childhood development, especially among poor families. This first case sets out the political and bureaucratic context in Uruguay, then pivots to describe an approach that many Uruguayan policymakers admired—the early childhood development program in neighboring Chile—Chile Crece Contigo (Chile Grows with You). The bulk of the case describes the thinking and politics behind the creation of ChCC, a program embedded in the country’s national health system that has won accolades internationally. It ends with policymakers in the Uruguayan departamento of Canelones considering how to design their own early childhood pilot project.

Learning objective: In a world where policymakers are encouraged to replicate model programs, this case pair shows the importance of balancing the strengths of a specific design—proven in one context—with a recognition that a modified approach may be both necessary and more effective in a different context. This first “decision-forcing” case in the set ends by posing students a challenge: given the context in Uruguay and the example of the Chilean model, how should the region of Canelones design its pilot program?

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Case Study
By Design: The Thinking Behind Uruguay Crece Contigo Betting on the power of personal connection (B)
#2221.0 - May 2021

Faculty Lead: Julie Boatright Wilson
Case Author: Pamela Varley

Abstract: This is the second case in a two-case set that explores why likeminded policymakers in Uruguay and Chile, focused on the same basic problem, made very different choices in designing a government program to tackle it. The “A” case ends with policymakers in the Uruguayan departamento of Canelones considering how to design their own early childhood pilot project. This second “B” case continues the story by describing how Uruguayan policymakers—first at the regional level and then at the national level—designed a different kind of program that embraced the strengths of their own small, close-knit country—in particular, a tradition of forging connections with marginalized families through a program of personalized home visits.

Learning objective: In a world where policymakers are encouraged to replicate model programs, this case pair shows the importance of balancing the strengths of a specific design—proven in one context—with a recognition that a modified approach may be both necessary and more effective in a different context. After reading this second case, students can compare and contrast the divergent program design choices in both Chile and Uruguay and consider the broader implications for policy designers, generally.

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Case Study
Mothers of Rotterdam: Scaling A Social Services Program in the Netherlands
#2128.0 - June 2018

Faculty Lead: Julie Boatright Wilson
Case Author: Laura Winig

Abstract: Board Chair Nanne Boonstra was about to learn the details of a scaling strategy proposal for Mothers of Rotterdam, a fledgling social service program that helped the city’s disadvantaged pregnant women. How do you go from a start-up to a more structured, formalized organization? Is the program’s inventor the right person to scale the program? How long does a program need to run to determine whether it is effective? Is it necessary/advisable to scale the program in Rotterdam first before replicating in other cities, or can this happen in parallel? Is there a risk of other cities trying to copy the program without guidance from the Rotterdam staff and “not getting it right”?

The case goes on to unfold the story of Mothers of Rotterdam—an entrepreneurial social service program based in the Netherlands—from its inception through the board of directors meeting. The program’s stakeholders, eager to broaden the impact of Mothers of Rotterdam, grapple with how the program can best be scaled up. 

Learning objective: The case is designed to facilitate a discussion about how to assess the viability of scaling a fledgling social service program and the role an entrepreneurial founder can or should play in driving a program's growth and expansion.

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Case Study
Cuna Más: Peru’s Early Childhood Program Struggles to Maintain Quality as it Scales Up
#2115.0 - January 2018

Faculty Lead: Julie Boatright Wilson
Case Author: Anjani Datla

Abstract: In 2012, amid much fanfare, Peru’s President Ollanta Humala launched an ambitious program on early childhood development called Cuna Más. Based on a successful home visiting intervention in Jamaica, Cuna Más was designed to improve the cognitive and emotional development of children below the age of three, living in poverty. The government’s aim was to scale the program nationwide. Initially, despite the logistical challenges of reaching rural communities in a geographically diverse country—from communities residing high up in the Andes to those deep in the Amazon jungle—the program grew at a rapid rate. By early 2016, however, the program encountered a formidable set of challenges. Amid political pressure to increase coverage quickly, Cuna Más had to ensure that it continued to deliver a quality service. Some civil society groups that had initially hailed Humala for focusing on early childhood now argued that the program was hobbled by operational challenges. As the April 2016 elections loomed on the horizon a crucial question about Humala’s flagship program lingered. Could Cuna Más deliver with quality, at scale?

Learning objective: Students gain a deeper understanding of how a social program that has proven to work in another part of the world can sustainably scale up with quality in a complex environment, amid a host of political, cultural, and logistical challenges.

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Case Study
Cuna Más: Peru’s Home Visiting Program Evolves into a Comprehensive Early Childhood Development Strategy
#2218.0 - May 2021

Faculty Lead: Julie Boatright Wilson
Case Author: Anjani Datla

Abstract: The first case in this series describes the creation and initial expansion of Cuna Más, a national home visiting program in Peru. This second and final case in the series picks up a few years after Cuna Más was launched and charts the program’s successes and challenges, while taking an in-depth look into how policymakers paved the way for an ambitious and comprehensive multisectoral early childhood strategy that would bring together a vast network of social, education, health, and other services.

Learning objective: This case can be used to illustrate how concerted efforts at all levels of government as well as savvy policymaking are vital to creating sustainable programs that achieve the desired results.

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