17 January 2019

Faculty of Nursing

An astounding number of children ages zero (0) to five (5) years 11 months and 29 days are diagnosed with developmental disabilities. The Faculty of Nursing Chiang Mai University is helping to decrease the number of diagnosed developmental disabilities in early childhood through The Early Childhood Project.

An interview with The Early Childhood Project organizers, Assistant Professor Jutamas Chotibang, PhD, RN and Assistant Professor Usanee Jintrawet, PhD, RN, from the Faculty of Nursing Chiang Mai University was conducted to learn more about the project.

What is The Early Childhood Project?

The Early Childhood Project was started in 2013. The project works directly with educators, families, their communities, and healthcare providers to develop and establish customized child development curriculums. Once the curriculum is in place, the students are assessed every three months, based on 30 benchmarks for development progress. If the student does not pass the assessment, a referral is made for a specialized school. The project is made up of five (5) phases, each lasting one year and 6 months and is currently in the fourth phase. In the second phase there were 15 prototype centers. During the third phase, ten new prototype centers were added. A large emphasis is placed on team learning for the benefit of all involved. Supports are put in place to improve the capability of the teachers in the childhood development centers to make a lasting improvement. Five pillars consisting of administrative management, environment management, curriculum, health care, and participation of parents and community serve as the foundation of The Early Childhood Project.

How is The Early Childhood Project funded?

The Early Childhood Project is funded by The Thai Health Foundation, The Ministry of Interior, and The Ministry of Public Health. Monthly meetings to give updates about the state of the project and propose any necessary changes are held in Bangkok with the funders and Faculty of Nursing professors. Once a phase is completed every one and a half years, the experiences and findings are also shared and presented.

What is the amount of the grant?

The project has received 50 million baht since January 2017 and the amount fluctuates every year since the project is so new for Thailand. So there is not a set amount given annually.

How long is the grant for?

Initially the grant was only for 5 years, but since the project has been doing so well, the grant is expected to be renewed for a longer time period.

Does The Early Childhood Project only offer help in Chiang Mai?

Of the 76 provinces in Thailand, three provinces have centers in participation, which are Lamphun, Chiang Rai, and Chiang Mai. With such great continuing success of The Early Childhood Project, the hope is to reach as far south as Phuket. As the project continues to grow, it is anticipated to have early childhood development centers in each sub district; North, Central, Northeast, and South of Thailand.