“Locally networked early support” is the motto of the new Primokiz program promoting comprehensive early childhood education and care, which the Jacobs Foundation has developed especially for small and medium-sized Swiss towns. In these towns with a population of 10,000 to 50,000, the players providing early support are to be networked and supported in the best possible manner so as to ensure that their offerings for small children and parents are implemented with maximum effect. The Jacobs Foundation has developed two instruments to this end for use in drawing up a situation analysis and a concept, which have not been available in Switzerland before. The Board of Trustees of the Jacobs Foundation has approved a funding volume of CHF 2.2 million for the Primokiz program. The program advisory board has so far selected 16 small and medium-sized Swiss towns to take part in Primokiz, and the following ones have already made a start on their project work: Burgdorf, Cham, Gambarogno, Grenchen, Illnau-Effretikon, Kloten, Muri, Pratteln, Schaffhausen, Wettingen, Zofingen and Zug. Another four communities will be joining the Primokiz program in the course of the year. The program is running until 2015.
Early support pays off
“Anyone wishing to ensure that all children are able to participate in society later on must invest more heavily in early childhood education. Viewed from this perspective, early support pays off for both the individual and society as a whole”, says Sandro Giuliani, managing director of the Jacobs Foundation. “Networking the players has proved successful in bigger Swiss cities. And now we are supporting smaller and medium-sized Swiss cities too, which are not so financially strong and have fewer employees.”
The Jacobs Foundation has developed its new model for early childhood education and care precisely for this purpose. The model is based on the three supporting pillars of an early childhood policy: the education system, the health system and the social services. Building on these, the Foundation has developed two instruments for compiling a situation analysis and a concept, designed especially for use by small and medium-sized towns. These allow the towns or communities to analyze, network and optimize their offerings for children from birth through to starting school, adopting an equal-opportunity perspective. The Jacobs Foundation is also making the instruments available free of charge to all interested communities outside the program, posting them in the internet at www.jacobsfoundation.org/primokiz.
Central to the Primokiz program is its comprehensive focus on early childhood education and care, as well as its participative approach, which ensures that all the participating institutions and education players work together and become networked.
The 16 Swiss towns in the program receive on-the-spot support from experts for their Primokiz project and for applying the instruments. They can additionally benefit from the experience of the bigger cities, which serve as “reference cities”, and exchange information with them. In addition, the towns can have their analysis and concept scientifically evaluated.
Scientific support and expert advisory board
Scientific support for the program is provided by the Marie Meierhofer Institut für das Kind (MMI). An expert advisory board with representatives from the scientific world, practitioners and municipal, cantonal and federal authorities is overseeing the program. The organizations comprising the membership of this advisory board are: the Städteinitiative Sozialpolitik (Swiss Cities’ Initiative on Social Policy), the Federal Office for Migration, the Federal Social Insurance Office, the Swiss UNESCO Commission, the University of Fribourg, St. Gallen University of Teacher Education, and Health Promotion Switzerland.