A primary objective in the creation of the CoP was to work together to develop a tool to assess how Grade R and Grade 1 children are faring across a number of key domains and to use findings generated from this baseline assessment to develop and implement a contextually relevant intervention. This was followed by post intervention assessment to determine whether any changes in child well-being were seen over time.
Step 1: Establishing Advisory Level CoP (ALCoP)
At the onset of the study an ALCoP was established made up of key stakeholders and included academic partners with expertise on child well-being, government departments and NGO’s involved in child care and protection. The ALCoP worked collaboratively to develop the Child Well-being Tracking Tool. The CWTT contained questions on key domains of child well-being and included sections related to health, nutrition, material well-being, education and learning, protection and care, and psychosocial health. The caregivers’ mental well-being and coping during Covid-19 was also assessed.
Step 2: Recruitment and sample
Children in Grade R and Grade 1 who are recipients of the CSG and attending school in selected schools in the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) were identified as the target group. Five schools were chosen from areas defined as critically poor by the CoJ.
Step 3: Wave 1 pre-test
The fieldwork for Phase 1 of data collection was carried out between October and December 2020. Data from 162 children were included in the final data set. Based on findings, children were classified n terms of high, moderate and low risk for each of the well-being domains.
Step 4: Intervention
Individual intervention plans were developed for children (and families) at high and moderate risk. The interventions were individualised based on which area of well-being they were showing risk factors in. Interventions that they could have been referred to include an invitation to participate in a family strengthening programme, additional psychometric assessments and support plans, referral to food distribution sites, and referral to clinics for health-related problems.
Local level CoPs (LLCoP) were also established and included practitioners at community level. These include teachers, nurses, social workers and other practitioners involved in supporting child well-being. Findings were shared with the LLCoPs to inform the interventions and support practices. The intention is for LLCoPs to meet regularly to discuss progress, challenges faced, and to problem solve together.
Step 5: Post intervention assessment
Data gathering for this phase began in August 2020 and is currently underway. Although the post-tests cannot definitely indicate whether an intervention resulted in improved well-being outcomes (due to the lack of a control group and randomised assignment) it does allow us to track whether we are seeing improvements over time or not, and to use the data to inform the work of the LLCoP.
To assess how children in the early years are faring, children were tracked over two waves, first between October to December 2020, and over the same period in 2021. The CoP, made up of an interdisciplinary, multi-sectoral team, developed the Child Well-being Tracking Tool (CWTT) to assess how children are faring across the key domains described above, and to develop, based on findings, appropriate interventions for children at risk, and to assess the effectiveness of these through a follow-up assessment. The figure below provides a comprehensive overview of the research process and methods used in this study, including establishment of the Advisory Level CoP, development of the CWTT, recruitment of participants, Wave 1 assessment, interventions directed at children at risk, and the establishment of Local Level CoPs at five schools in Johannesburg, and a follow-up Wave 2 assessment. Findings from the baseline assessment have been reported previously and may be found here. Following the base line assessment in Wave one, the children were classified as experiencing low, medium and high risk of compromised well-being. Social work and health interventions were offered to high-risk children and families, and those with learning difficulties were assessed by education psychologists.