The Western Cape Department of Health (WDOH) runs the First Thousand Days (FTD) programme for pregnant mothers and those who have children under the age of two. Throughout the FTD, these mothers visit clinics for check-ups at set intervals and receive home visits from community-health workers.
The WDOH has also started integrating elements of parental support on early stimulation as part of the FTD programme. During home visits, community health-workers introduce mothers to concepts of early stimulation and book-sharing. This serves as an introduction only – and mothers learn, at a high level, how to be more reciprocal with their babies. They also learn about the benefits of early stimulation and learn skills on how to use wordless picture-books to do book-sharing with.
If you live in the Western Cape and you are pregnant or have a child under the age of two, ask your local clinic or home visitor about book-sharing.
Once community-health workers introduce FTD mothers to book-sharing, they can also refer those mothers to their local libraries to attend a more intensive book-sharing course. You can find a list of libraries offering book-sharing courses here.
These local libraries do not only offer the book-sharing courses to FTD mothers. Any caregivers of young children can sign up to join the book-sharing course. To find out more about what the course offers, and how it is structured, you can read more here.
The work with the clinics and libraries is a start at creating a community response for supporting parents and caregivers of young children. The intention is to identify spaces in society that serve parents of young children and we have started with the clinics and libraries. As the programme expands, we will expand the book-sharing introduction course to other social services offered to families.