GC-DWC Haiti Early Childhood Development

The GC-DWC Haiti’s original literacy program combines a robust teacher training and coaching program with a high-quality, scripted curriculum for first and second grades. Despite the measured success of this program, incoming students were woefully underprepared to receive the in-school intervention. Students not only lacked foundational academic skills but also crucial SEL skills that would enable them to thrive in the classroom environment. Further, learning adjacent needs such as nutrition, psychosocial health and support, and financial stability remained unmet and hindered students’ abilities to receive the in-school literacy intervention and thrive.


In response to these challenges, GC-DWC Haiti is integrating a package of early child development (ECD) interventions for children 0-5 to ensure that children grow up in safe, stimulating home environments and receive a strong foundation in language development, social and emotional learning, pre-literacy, pre-numeracy, and life skills/discovering the world themes before they enter formal school. Integrated into Haitian communities through its most central networks - the family, school, and church - this intervention is a sustainable pathway to lasting change. 


Progress, Goals, and Impact

Currently, GC-DWC Haiti is piloting this approach to child development through a series of complementary interventions in five communities in the Nord department. Communities in which interventions take place are known as Innovation Communities. Lessons learned from working in Innovation Communities will allow GC-DWC Haiti to refine interventions and scale the most relevant and effective ones to have the greatest future impact in Notre Dame’s wider network of communities throughout Haiti.

GC-DWC Haiti is in the midst of developing and implementing five interventions in its Innovation Communities: 1) Comprehensive Early Childhood Development (ECD) Curriculum; 2) Parent and Caregiver Training Workshop Program and Parent Support Groups; 3) Supplemental Weekend Radio Programming; 4) Pre-Baptism Counseling Sessions and Liturgical Workshops infused with Positive Parenting and ECD Messaging; and 5) Community Resource Centers. All interventions are evaluated using a Rapid Evaluation, Assessment, and Learning Methodology (REALM) that quickly feeds learning from program outcomes back into interventions, creating a regular cycle of improvement and refinement.


Innovation Communities Interventions

Preschool students in classroom

Comprehensive Early Childhood Development (ECD) Curriculum

A 10-month curriculum for pre-K that first focuses on daily morning meetings that guides teachers in effectively delivering lessons that meet preschool students’ social and emotional needs based on Notre Dame’s Vision of the Haitian Child SEL framework and pre-literacy schools using decodable books in Haitian Creole. The curriculum then progresses to other key themes: pre-numeracy and life skills/discovering the world. 

As part of this intervention, teachers receive foundational training on reading, SEL instruction, and pre-K pedagogy, as well as follow-up coaching and supervision visits. Additionally, students are encouraged to engage in play-based learning activities and participate in Read Aloud activities.

Resources: SEL Children's Books and Activities, Vision of the Haitian Child: Social Emotional Framework

Mother showing a drawing completed as part of program

Parent & Caregiver Training Workshop and Parent Support Groups

A ten-week module program that equips parents with interactive games and songs they can use with their children and promote positive parenting techniques.

Sessions unpack positive parenting videos, specifically tailored to the Haitian context, that highlight the importance of social care, alternatives to harsh discipline, and reading with one's children. Sessions revolve around the following themes: importance of the parent-child relationship; consistent and responsive care; social emotional and cognitive development connection; self-regulation, discipline, and corporal punishment; wellbeing and self-care; and nutrition.

Resources: Positive Parenting Videos

Priest at front of congregation

Pre-Baptism Counseling Sessions and Liturgical Sermons

A program, developed in close collaboration with local Church leaders and the Archdiocese of Cap-Haitian, to merge science and theology messaging into pre-baptism counseling sessions for parents.

Programming ensures participating parents receive messages on the synergies of promoting healthy brain development and parental love and care in conjunction with the Catholic belief that all children are beloved children of God. Additionally, as concepts align with the liturgical calendar, Church holidays, and feast days, parish priests are encouraged to infuse ECD and positive parenting messaging into their sermons.

Boy listening to radio

Supplemental Weekend Radio Programming

Distance-learning literacy, SEL, and ECD radio education programs developed in response to 2020 COVID-19 school closures and 2022-2023 initial school closures due to sociopolitical issues in Haiti.

With schools back in session, Notre Dame is adjusting its radio programming to a weekend schedule to provide access to additional learning opportunities for students at home. Designed primarily for pre-K through second grade students and their parents and caregivers, each episode incorporates general themes around basic literacy and numeracy, SEL concepts, and parent engagement while following a basic, consistent structure. 

Resources: Radio Program


Community Resource Centers

Centers, within each Innovation Community, that link together learning materials and programming to address the unique development and learning needs of children within each community.

Centers will provide a clear space for learning outside of the classroom environment and will create space for parents to actively engage in their children’s learning and development. As a direct response to bridging the digital divide, centers will leverage digital learning hubs. Digital learning hubs will be equipped with solar power, internet connectivity, and tablets to extend technology-based learning opportunities. Additionally, centers will be open to everyone in the community including out-of-school youth, older students, and adults.