ECD Compliance Made Easy.

An innovative mobile toolkit that empowers Environmental Health Practitioners to navigate the complexities of ECD centre compliance and pivot their services from a punitive approach to one that enables continued improvements in the most vulnerable communities.

The need

In South Africa, the ECD sector is regulated by Government and, in an effort to ensure compliance with quality standards, all ECD service providers are required to register their facilities with the Department of Social Development.

The registration process requires that centres meet government norms and standards for health and safety. These health and safety inspections are undertaken by Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs). If the standards are not met, the ECD centre cannot be registered and won’t qualify for government funding. Compliance with guidelines has become an issue.

One of the reasons for this is confusion around how to tackle non-compliance, particularly in the most disadvantaged communities where centres have insufficient resources to invest in the necessary infrastructure. At the moment, there is a huge backlog in registration: there are an estimated 40 000 ECD centres in South Africa, and less than half of these have valid registration.

The innovation

Drawing inspiration from private sector approaches to ensuring compliance with operational laws, ECD Compliance-Made-Easy will help Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) navigate the ECD centre assessment process, using an innovative, technology-enabled toolkit.

The toolkit collates and simplifies the complex legislation, allowing EHPs to easily search national, provincial and local laws relating to any compliance issue. It includes a simple mobile checklist for use by EHPs and provides guidance for EHPs on ways to address non-compliance through practical innovations that have been tried and tested elsewhere.

The tool enables EHPs to pivot their services from a punitive assessment approach, towards one orientated around continuous improvement. This innovative mobile toolkit has been enthusiastically endorsed by the professional body representing EHPs nationally.

Key insights

Environmental Health Practitioners play a key role in the ECD center assessment process but they are regularly faced with a challenging dilemma – they cannot approve registration of sites that don’t comply with health and safety standards but they know that without approval these centres will never be able to access the resources they need in order to upgrade their facilities to meet the standards. Many EHPs are left feeling helpless and frustrated.

ECD Compliance Made Easy offers an accessible way of helping EHPs to overcome this long-standing challenge with the system.

Assessment approaches to ECD compliance can and should be re-engineered in a way that is directly beneficial to children and those who care for them. Inspired by private sector solutions to this challenge, we are pivoting an existing product to meet an entirely different need.

In order to ensure integration of the product into Government systems for scale, the proof of concept phase includes extensive consultation with the relevant Government departments and alignment with the latest policy developments.

The project team

Standards & Legal is committed to taking the stress out of legal requirements and management obligations so that organisations can move beyond compliance and build strategically and sustainably.