Consultancy (35 working days)
Early Childhood Development Economist – Sint Maarten (Dutch side)
Home-based consultancy due to COVID-19 with possible travel

We believe that every child should be able to be a child, always and everywhere.
As the United Nations Children’s Rights Organization, UNICEF stands up for the rights of every child in all countries of the world, day in and day out. Thanks to you and our partners, we help more children than anyone else in the world. We believe that every child should be able to be a ‘child’. In fact, they are entitled to it. Not all children grow up in a safe and loving environment. For their development they urgently need protection, health care, (healthy) food and education. That is what we stand for, because we are UNICEF.


Introduction to the assignment

On September 6, 2017, a Category 5 Hurricane made landfall on Sint Maarten, causing significant destruction throughout the country. UNICEF The Netherlands has been active on Sint Maarten since September 2017 implementing a programme comprising disaster preparedness, psychosocial support, child protection, public campaigns and research. In collaboration with the Government of St. Maarten and the World Bank Trust Fund, we are implementing a Child Resilience and Protection project.


The assignment
The Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector on Sint Maarten offers day care and pre-school education to children aged 0-4 years. Only 30 per cent of children aged 0-4 have access to a day care centre. None of the day care centres are subsidized and the cost is primarily borne by the families, which is a barrier to access. The financial strain caused by Hurricane Irma on households has made day care less affordable for many parents. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the vulnerability of the sector, since several day care centres had to close, as reported by the umbrella organization, SXM Early Childhood Development Association (SECDA), in September 2020.

The twenty five day care centres that survived the ravages of hurricane Irma and its consequences do not collect sufficient fees to cover their recurrent expenses.  As a result, the total number of children enrolled in day care centres has declined, which will impact the well-being of children and their level of preparedness for primary school.

The Government of Sint Maarten has requested technical assistance in two areas:

  1. Development of a sustainable and equitable funding model for ECD and Safety Nets (after school programmes) in Sint Maarten, that would promote inclusion and equity. The model would propose options to increase public sector support for ECD and after school programmes, through subsidies to the private sector. Among other options, it could investigate a possible alignment of a subsidies system for day care centres with the subsidies system already in place for public primary schools. The funding model would also include a tuition waiver system for vulnerable students as well as targeting mechanisms. The model would pay specific attention to gender disparities and disabilities. It would be developed with key stakeholders and professionals and would help more children access day care centres and after school programmes while strengthening the supply of existing services through public subsidies.
  2. Development and operationalization of a data collection strategy for ECD and Safety Nets (after school programmes) in Sint Maarten that is convertible into other relevant management information systems and would facilitate the systematic collection, analysis and dissemination of data on ECD.

 The key Government stakeholders are the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS), the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (VSA), the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication.


Expected deliverables

Deliverable 1: Develop a sustainable funding model for ECD and Safety Nets in St. Maarten (15 working days). This deliverable includes the following activities: Prepare and submit to UNICEF-NL for approval a 3–5-page document outlining the research methodology to be utilized and an annotated work plan for the assignment. The methodology should include the appraisal method of funding models in similar countries. Prepare and submit for the approval of UNICEF-NL a 5–10-page report which outlines at least three (3) options of evidence-based, cost effective sustainable and predictable funding models for Sint Maarten to support ECD services and afterschool programs which increase equitable access, particularly for children from the lower socio-economic quintile. The models proposed must take into account public funding as well as possible private funding, public/private funding partnerships (PPP) and parental contribution. The report must include an analysis of the Sint Maarten macro-economic context, pre-conditions, risks, enablers and a roadmap towards realizing a sustainable funding model. The report must also provide recommendations for policy advocacy towards sustainable funding for the ECD sector and after school programmes.

Deliverable 2: Develop a data management strategy for early childhood development centres and after-school programmes in Sint Maarten (10 working days). This deliverable will include the following activities: Collaborate with the MECYS, the SXM Early Childhood Development Association, the Ministry of TEATT, the Ministry of VSA and Safety Nets to develop a fit-for-purpose data management system to support evidence-based policy advocacy and policy development for the Government of Sint Maarten, Parliament and other stakeholders. Develop an operational plan for the data management system which must include types of data to be collected, sources of data, sampling strategy, data management (method of collection, coding, data analysis and ethical guidelines, etc), samples of data collection instruments and clear instructions for each component and stage of the data collection and management process.

Deliverable 3: Develop a training kit to support the data management strategy (5 working days).

Deliverable 4 (5 working days): Train selected representatives of TEATT, SECDA and day care centres, MECYS, VSA and Safety Nets to operationalize the data management strategy and how to convert the data collected into regular analytical reports for monitoring and policy development by the Government of Sint Maarten.


Quality aspects

 Sustainability: to ensure that the work is contextualized, relevant and sustainable, ownership by the civil servants and professionals on Sint Maarten is a prerequisite. Therefore, the consultant is expected to work closely with Sint Maarten civil servants and professionals during the assignment.

Participation and stakeholder engagement: close involvement and endorsement of the relevant stakeholders in the ECD sectors and Safety Nets are required to ensure ownership, relevance and sustainability of the activities.


Requirements

Advanced university degree in economics, public financial management or another relevant field.

Strong expertise in social policy development, preferably in programmes for children and youth, vulnerable groups, including the education sector and in particular early childhood development and after school programmes.

At least eight years of relevant professional experience in research, data analysis, social policy development.

Experience in capacity building of civil servants, professionals and service providers.

Knowledge of Sint Maarten culture and context or knowledge of Caribbean culture and context is strongly desirable.

Excellent command of English.

(Online) communication and presentation skills.

Proven track record to plan and execute work independently as a consultant.


Our offer
A reference check may be included as part of the selection procedure. The consultant will be offered a consultancy contract with UNICEF The Netherlands. Due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions, the consultant will perform the assignment home-based making use of video-call. If travel restrictions are lifted, a mission to Sint Maarten could be part of the assignment. The consultant must adhere to UNICEF The Netherlands’ Code of Conduct and child safeguarding policy.

 

Administrative arrangements
The consultant will report to the Senior Programme Specialist Child Resilience Building of UNICEF The Netherlands. UNICEF The Netherlands covers the payment by bank transfer based on invoices.

A detailed Terms of Reference and any other information about the assignment can be obtained from our Senior Programme Specialist, Mr. Henry Charles, hcharles@unicef.nl.

 

How to apply
Potential candidates are invited to apply for this position by submitting their CV and letter of motivation by 29 July 2021 close of business, Eastern Standard Time through the online portal.

We ask all employees to be prepared to declare our code of conduct Conduct and cooperate when requesting a Decalaration of Good Conduct.

Our society is colorful and UNICEF Netherlands is too. We strive to make our employees a reflection of society and the international character of our organization.

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