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On September 25, the Regional Network for Measuring Child Development (REMDI) convened a virtual seminar to reflect on surveys that are used to measure early childhood development in the region. Panelists from Chile and Uruguay shared the status of implementation of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey 2017 (ELPI) and the Nutrition, Child Development and Health Survey 2019 (ENDIS).
This virtual panel featured presentations from Jenny Encina, a specialist in childhood research methodology from the Chilean Ministry of Social Development and Giorgina Garibotto, coordinator of REMDI‘s technical secretariat and director of the Knowledge Management and Generation Division of Crece Contigo MIDES at the Uruguayan Social Development Ministry. Dr. Ignacio Madero, doctor in social sciences from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland commented on both presentations. Madero is an interdisciplinary academic from the Institute of Sociology and Department of Public Health at UC and a member of the Society for Longitudinal and Life course studies (SLLS). Finally, this seminar was moderated by Dr. Juan Daniel Oviedo, general director of the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) and a graduated with an economics PhD from the University of Toulouse in France.
Survey of Nutrition, Child Development and Health in Uruguay (ENDIS)
ENDIS is the first research on early childhood with panel methodology, household surveys and national sampling in Uruguay. This survey allows the collection of demographic, socioeconomic and family group information, as well as household, health and nutrition background, to generate knowledge that can direct public policies.
The rounds and cohorts surveyed went as follows:
- 2013: First round of the panel; children from 0 to 3 years old.
- 2015: Second round of the panel; children from 2 to 6 years old.
- 2019: Third round of the panel; children from 5 to 10 years old.
- 2018: New group of children from 0 to 4 years old. In this cohort the count of nutrient consumption for 24 hours was recorded.
Certain general aspects of the design of the ENDIS were highlighted:
First, the selected indicators evaluated psychomotor, anthropometric, cognitive, emotional and social aspects, as well as common psychological behaviors and symptoms. Similarly, the application of the child development instruments changed across different rounds. However, in all rounds, a mixed assessment was conducted, featuring parent information and evaluator observations.
Finally, Garibotto mentioned the progress made at the institutional level that made it possible to carry out the survey. Mainly, the use of administrative records as a primary source of information (Live Birth Certificate, Education, Integrated Information System of the Social Area); the public availability of databases (birth certificate system, prenatal computer system and public education system); quality assurance and updating of instruments based on expert consultation (psychometric property analysis of ASQ 3, ASQ SE and CBCL applied in Round 1 and 2); and finally, co-financing by multiple institutions participating in the survey.
Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey in Chile (ELPI)
Encina began her presentation by mentioning the background of the survey. In 2008, a diagnosis was made of the lack of systematized information available to generate quantifiable knowledge on the effects of the first years of life on later variables such as education and health. For this reason, in the first round a partnership was established between the Ministry of Education, the University of Chile and the University of Pennsylvania. Funding came from the state, while the University of Chile conducted the survey through its Microdata Center, and the University of Pennsylvania was responsible for designing the instruments through an international academic committee.
Thus, between 2010 and 2017, three rounds of ELPI were carried out: 2010, 2012 and 2017. In all of them, the use of the information was always available for public use. The available data was anonymous and its usefulness is mainly oriented to generate public policies and studies that generate robust evidence.
- 2010: First round of the panel children from 0 to 5 years old
- 2012: Second round of the children’s panel (diagnosed in the child’s first year of life)
- 2017: Third round of the children’s panel.
A remarkable feature is that in all three periods the institutions responsible for implementing the project changed. In 2010 it was carried out by the Ministry of Education, in 2012 by the Ministry of Labor, and in 2017 by the Ministry of Social Development and Family. Although the entity responsible for each execution of the survey has changed, an effort has been made to maximize the comparability of the instrument over time. The design of the instruments has been accompanied by committees of national and international experts, advisors from international organizations (UNICEF) and the review of an ethics committee. The instruments selected evaluated socio-emotional, executive, cognitive, and anthropometric dimensions. Another peculiarity of the survey is that it includes a questionnaire to the child’s second caregiver. On the other hand, the samples have varied depending on the round, considering there’s a follow-up or panel sample and an updated sample. This led to no tracing and contact efforts so that the same sample could respond in the long term. Therefore, it is necessary to establish periodic strategies for sample loyalty, in order to continue the follow-up of the children in the panel until at least 18 years of age.
Reflections by Dr. Ignacio Madero
Madero shared the Life Course Calendar (known as CCV in Spanish), which is a quantitative, longitudinal, and complementary instrument for panel surveys. The CCV is a retrospective instrument to evaluate people’s background. That is, it surveys information of events that happened early in a person’s life. For this reason, it is considered appropriate to apply this instrument to the caregivers and/or adult references of the children evaluated by the different surveys. One of its main advantages is its low cost because only one interview is required. On the other hand, all the necessary information can be collected on a single sheet of paper. A table is created that has columns for the person’s age and for the description of events in the area of interest for the research with its different domains. So, for each event in these life domains, the person specifies the dates of occurrence. Now, autobiographical memory is not a linear process, since there are events that happened a long time ago and a bias in the information may exist because of memory failure or distortion. This would be the main challenge with this kind of instrument. Similarly, Madero reiterated the importance and the various methodological advantages of the Life Course Calendar as a valid, reliable, and economically feasible instrument.
This is the second event in a series of events on surveys and methodological exchange of child development measurement.