In 2017, Tiny Totos received funding facilitated by the Ford Foundation to create a pilot map of daycares found in lower-income neighborhoods of Nairobi. Our primary objective was to shed light on an opaque sector, and provide a visual demonstration of just how pervasive slum based day cares are. Given their prevalence, we also wanted the map to underline the vital role they play in providing preschool childcare services to working mothers from slums and marginalized communities. Finally, the purpose of the map was also to provide useful data points for actors, clients and policy makers working to improve the market in their different ways.
Tiny Totos started the field research using a data set of institutions in the slums assembled by Children’s Officers from Department of Children’s Services Ministry of Labour together with GOAL Kenya as a baseline. The 2014 data set had been seeking to identify child service providers in general and included NGOs, CBOs, health centres, safe houses.
Tiny Totos refined the data set to only include daycare run by private sector providers. We then hired and trained a set of Community Health Workers to go out to the field and verify an aspired 20% the original 2500 or so daycares identified by GOAL. We recruited a team of 12 community health workers to verify 5 daycares per day over a 10-day period, using mobile phone to fix their GPS locations. They also collected a range of basic information about daycare identified including name of the owner / manager, whether they had helpers to assist them, the range of services provided, contact numbers, daycare capacity and average number of children they usually catered for.
The location of the daycare was determined Information and location of just over 500 daycares was eventually uploaded onto our site. Of interest in thinking around turnover rate of daycares in the slum is that of the 439 daycares on the original GOAL Kenya list, 229 had either closed down, moved or were otherwise impossible to locate based on previous coordinates taken. The disappearance of over 50% of our sample set over the course of just over 2 years points to the itinerant, shifting nature of the industry, and therefore the challenges that mothers face when trying to find reliable daycares to leave their children at, as well as the difficulties entrepreneurs also face in keeping their businesses open, vibrant and profitable.
This dramatic data shift therefore also speaks to the importance of providing strategic knowledge and capital support to upgrade the quality of these daycare service providers so that the children and clients they cater to can benefit from more stable services on offer.
We hope that our pilot map showing daycares in the lower income neighbourhoods in Nairobi will both eventually be extended to cover the whole city, and will before long become a a tool to leverage improved knowledge and standards in the sector for practitioners, clients and policy-makers alike.