CONSULTANCY: TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD INTERVENTION (FLUENCY IN RUSSIAN REQUIRED, Home Based with some travel)

The ECD Section of the Regional Office for CEE/CIS is seeking an individual consultant to provide technical assistance in Early Childhood Intervention. Fluency in English and Russian is required.

If you are a committed, creative professional and are passionate about making a lasting difference for children, the world's leading children's rights organization would like to hear from you.

For 70 years, UNICEF has been working on the ground in 190 countries and territories to promote children's survival, protection and development. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the volunary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

INTRODUCTION

As indicated in a recent The Lancet Series (2016) on ECD[1], many young children are not reaching their development potential. All young children need nurturing care (from the very beginning, i.e., conception) defined as "a stable environment that promotes children's health and nutrition, and protects children from threats". The burden of governments and societies of inaction has been found to exceed the social investments (e.g., health). In addition, societal inaction in early childhood leads to poor achievement and wellbeing for individuals over the lifespan and can impact the next generations. It is a violation of the fundamental rights of young children. Supportive interventions are particularly critical for children who are vulnerable and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This is true just as much for young children with disabilities and/or developmental difficulties, regardless whether conditions are present at birth or acquired during the early years.   As highlighted by ZERO to THREE, the ECD expert organization, in a recent evidence-based policy brief[2]:

  • Infants and toddlers maltreated are six times more likely to experience a developmental delay
  • 1 in 3 infants and toddlers who received early intervention services did not later present with a disability or require special education in preschool, and
  • Earlier identification and intervention is more effective because it maximizes brain development during the critical years. It is less costly, especially when intervention combines family-centered services in the home and community.

In CEE/CIS, young children with, or at risk of disabilities and/or developmental difficulties constitute one of the most vulnerable and stigmatized groups. Newborns with congenital disorders or more serious conditions related to asphyxia are more likely to be deprived of growing up in a nurturing family and placed in institutional care. Many young children with developmental difficulties, e.g., ASP, ADHD, etc. are not identified until school age, even when families had clear concerns that their child may not develop "typically". The number of children identified is significantly lower than percentages reported from high income countries with more established services.

The Right of Every Young Child to Comprehensive, Health Development and Wellbeing initiative was launched by the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS as part of the Regional Knowledge and Leadership Agenda (RKLA) in 2012 to address the significant within-region and within-country inequities in the health, development, care and protection of young children.   An analysis of modalities to address these inequities in CEE/CIS indicated that the health system reaches the vast majority of pregnant women and families of young children through such services as prenatal care, institutional deliveries, vaccinations, well child visits, and home visiting. Because home visiting is an outreach activity and depends on health professionals to engage families, it has the potential to reduce user barriers such as poor access or low demand – as particularly observed in disadvantaged communities.   As trusted professionals and with an understanding of needs, home visitors (including, nurses, doctors and other health care providers) can also assist families with referral and link them with other services, as needed. Home visiting therefore has the potential for an efficient entry point to reach various population groups, including the most marginalized and vulnerable.

Since 2012, the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS has supported COs that are assisting their counterparts and partners, generally Ministries of Health, in reforming the national home visiting system. Primary prevention of disabilities and developmental difficulties is promoted through a number of strategies (e.g., promotion and advice on good health and nutrition during pregnancy, young child health and nutrition, promotion of responsive and nurturing caregiving, prevention of unintentional injuries, abuse and neglect, etc.).   Early identification of young children and families with special needs for greater attention or referral are a fundamental component of the universal progressive approach to home visiting which has been adopted in the CEE/CIS region.

In addition to home visiting, the RO has worked closely with the Developmental Pediatrics Department of the Ankara University Medical School to provide an orientation to countries in the region on the basic concepts of early identification, developmental monitoring, family-centered care and the use of new assessment tools, such as the GMCD. Two orientation courses for professionals from 10 countries were followed by more intensive country missions with advocacy events and further training of professionals.

Given the increased appetite in the region for technical support in the area of early childhood intervention, the Regional Office seeks the services of an ECD/Health expert, to implement a number of tasks. This area of engagement is complex, multi-sectoral, and assistance is needed to focus on the areas where UNICEF can provide value added to country partners with evidence-based technical guidance combined with a solid rights-based approach.

[1] The Lancet Series on ECD, 2016, published online on October 4, 2016.

[2] https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/83-making-hope-a-reality-early-intervention-for-infants-and-toddlers-with-disabilities#chapter-56

Assignment Tasks

The Consultant will,

1. Provide the technical input to the design of the Conference on ECI planned by the Belarus CO (tentatively, June 2017)

  • Advise the Belarus CO in the identification of relevant technical expertise and resource material for the ECI Conference
  • Participate in the Conference and make one presentation
  • Produce, in collaboration with UNICEF Belarus, a Conference report 

2. Provide technical support to the design and implementation of a two-day regional ECI Network meeting on the margins of the Belarus Conference

  • Map the specific interests and needs of COs in ECI and preschool inclusion
  • Develop a draft agenda for the ECI Network meeting in consultation with RO/COs
  • Coordinate the implementation of the ECI network meeting
  • Prepare the Network Meeting report

3. In collaboration with RO (including the RO Education Specialist - Inclusive Education) and COs, draft a regional ECI Strategy paper

  • Building on identified CO needs and recommendations, develop a regional plan for UNICEF technical support to ECI and preschool inclusion

4. Respond to CO requests related ECI planning and programming

  • Assist with 1-2 COs with ECI-related missions (e.g., Kyrgyz Republic and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)
  • Provide technical input to the RO ECD Advisor on CO technical requests

5. Provide technical assistance to the roll-out of the Regional Resource Modules for Home Visitors, on ECI and related modules

  • Assist UNICEF and ISSA in transforming 1-2 of the HV resource modules into ICATT format
  • Provide expert training in the use of of the Home Visitor Resource Modules, related to ECI, particularly in Russian-speaking countries 

6. Conduct training of trainers (in Russian) for home visiting and early detection, intervention, preschool inclusion and related topics

7. Provide guidance to the horizontal collaboration between a) the Ankara University Medical School, Department of Developmental Pediatrics, b) the Early Intervention Institute (EII, St. Petersburg), COs, and the RO on ECI

  • As requested, assist with the introduction of the International Guide for Monitoring Child Development (GMCD) and family-centered care
  • Map CO use and needs in the introduction of the GMCD
  • Support the development of record-keeping with regard to the GMCD
  • Liaise with EII to identify and share Russian language ECI resources

Expected Deliverables

Task

Deliverables

Timeline

Days

1. Provide the technical input to the design of the Conference on ECI planned by the Belarus CO

Presentation

Conference report

March 06 – July 30

10

2. Provide technical support to the planning and implementation of a two-day regional ECI Network meeting attached to the Belarus Conference

Mapping paper

Network meeting report

March 06 – June 30

20

3. In collaboration with RO/COs, draft a regional ECI Strategy paper

Draft strategy paper

June 15 – August 1

25

4.Respond to CO requests related ECI planning and programming

Completed CO request

March 06 – December 31

25

5. Provide technical assistance to the roll-out of the Regional Resource Modules for Home Visitors, on ECI and related modules

Modules completed in ICATT format

March 06 – December 31

20

6. Conduct training of trainers (in Russian) for home visiting and early detection, intervention and related topics

Mission report

March 06 – December 31

10

7. Provide guidance to the horizontal collaboration between the Ankara University Medical School, Department of Developmental, COs, and the RO on ECI

Quarterly updates

March 06 – December 31

10

Location of Consultancy

The consultancy will be home-based. The consultant will participate in the ECI Conference and Network Meeting in Belarus, undertake two or more country missions and one meeting at Regional Office in Geneva.

Travel

The consultancy will involve travel to UNICEF events and to Country Offices as required.  Consultant will be expected to make own travel arrangements and invoice UNICEF at the end of the travel.  Travel should be in economy class based on the most economical direct itinerary. Ticket cost should be cleared with Regional Office prior to purchase of the ticket. All other travel entitlements will be as per UNICEF rules and regulations on Consultants travel.

Qualifications of Successful Candidate

  • Higher university degree in medicine, public health, child development, and/or early childhood interventio
  • Knowledge and expertise early childhood development and intervention, as well as monitoring, screening, and assessment tools in the region, such as the International Guide for Monitoring Child Development
  • A good understanding of UNICEF's work in CEE/CIS on home visiting and early childhood intervention, as well as UNICEF's approach to disability
  • 8-10 years in the relevant technical field
  • Excellent analytical skills
  • Fluency in English and Russian required
  • Prior experience with UNICEF, particularly in CEE/CIS on related topics an asset 

To view our competency framework, please click here

Please indicate your ability, availability and daily rate (in US$) to undertake the terms of reference above.  Applications submitted without all the requested information will not be considered.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified female and male candidates from all national, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of our organisation.

 

 

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.
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  • Organization: UNICEF - United Nations Children’s Fund
  • Location:
  • Grade: Consultancy
  • Occupational Groups:
  • Closing Date: 2017-02-24

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