CHOPRA, GEETA (2014). 'MODULE FOR TRAINING GRASS ROOT WORKERS IN POOR RESOURCE COMMUNITIES ON PREVENTION, IDENTIFICATION AND INCLUSION OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, 2-5 September 2014, Athens, Greece.

WHO estimates that 70% of disabilities can be prevented from happening if care is exercised during prenatal stages and early childhood years by providing nutrition, health care and following hygiene practices for the safe motherhood and a well rounded child. Also, neuroscience research is underscoring the importance of early years for developing synapses of the neurons and brain development. Neuroscience research is proving causal links between impoverished conditions like malnourishment, abuse and lack of care which has poor implications for the growing brain of the infant and the young child. Considering this, adopting measures to prevent disabilities and intervening early if a disability has happened becomes salient for fostering and developing competencies of the young child. In the context of developing countries, the grass root community worker is being viewed as the best functionaries to undertake the job of preventing disabilities and for early detection and intervention.

The paper presents a comprehensive Module for training grass root worker on Prevention, Early Detection of Childhood Disabilities and Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in ECE settings. The Module consists of

  1. Book 1- Mother and Child Care: Promoting Health, Preventing Disabilities
  2. Book 2- Early Detection of Disabilities and Persons with Disabilities in the Community
  3. Book 3- Stimulating Development of Young Child with Disabilities at ECE centres and Home
  4. 8 Posters – 4 on Early Detection, 4 on Management of CWD at ECE centres
  5. The Disability Screening Schedule (DSS) with very high sensitivity and specificity
  6. Training aids- Focus Group Discussion situations, Role Play situations

The Module has been developed and tested to train grass root level community workers on prevention, early detection and intervention in childhood disabilities in four field trials. In the first trial, 19 anganwadi workers ( Grass root child care workers of Government of India ICDS scheme) were trained; in the second trial 53 grassroot community workers viz. anganwadi workers, Lady Health Visitors (Health workers of Government of India ), Auxillary Nurse Midwives  (Grass root health workers of Government of India ) and NGO workers were trained. During these two trials, the trained workers screened using the DSS, more than 8000 children between 0-6 years and reported about 640 children with impairments and disabilities.

In the third trial, the beliefs and practices of 100 anganwadi workers with respect to children with disabilities were investigated. Anganwadi workers were interviewed to gauge their knowledge and views related to children with disabilities. Of these 100 AWWs, 26 AWWs received a 5 day training to improve their knowledge on childhood disabilities, know early signs of disabilities and identifying through large survey, children with disabilities and teaching them methods by which they learn how to manage children with disabilities in their anganwadi centres. The AWW's also screened 2237 children (0-6 yrs) in their area and reported 81 children with a disability/impairment.

National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development is in the process of undertaking the 4th trial and the results are so far fabulous.  22 AWW were trained on the module. These workers screened 2500 children in the age group 0-6 years and 311 children were detected with disabilities.

The module is highly replicable and can help reduce mortality and morbidity arising due to disability.