Planning for day care centres in urban communities: a case study of Dagoretti Division, Nairobi
The early years of life are very important in human growth and development. Should anything go wrong during this period, the individual's chances of success and contribution to national development will be limited. It is therefore imperative that we invest appropriately in the early years of childhood for proper human capital development. This study examines the provision of day care centres for the children aged 0-6 years in Dagoretti division, Nairobi. Out of the 206 day care centres that exist in the area, a total of 40 were sampled randomly for interview, representing 19.32 percent of the total day care centres. In addition to this, a total of 140 households were selected randomly for' interview. These totals were then distributed equally among the high, middle and low-income groups that exist in the area. Analysis done included: the number, types and location of day care centres in the area, the role of day care centres and the factors considered by the parents in the choice of day care facilities tor their children among others. Findings indicate that day care centres have been in existence in the area since the 1970s. Going by the planning standards set in the physical planning handbook for day care centres, the area has a deficit of 75 day care centres. In addition, research findings indicate that there exist two types of day care centres in the study area; public and non-public with the non-public day care centres being the majority in number. The non-public day care centres are sponsored by private entrepreneurs, Religious Based Organizations (R80s), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Groups. Those sponsored by private entrepreneurs were the majority representing 6h percent of the total sampled number. Likewise, it was realized that day care centres are not evenly distributed in the area. Therefore, some families have to travel long distances to drop their children to the day care centres. There were no day care facilities for children aged 0-2 years as day care centres in the study area admit only children aged 2-6 years. Majority of day care centres operate between 7.30 am and 3.30 prn. They close during the other school closing days and operate five days a week; Monday to Friday. With these .. parents with children aged 0-6 years end up facing many challenges between work and childcare. The main challenges faced by the parents include: missing work, getting late to work. leaving work early and dealing with personal related issues during working hours. This affects their work productivity and family incomes negatively, which in turn adversely affects the national economy. Planning for childcare facilities therefore has to be taken into account in physical planning. It is important that planners. considering the increase in demand for day care centres. allocate enough physical space for these facilities. Equity, social justice. landscape design. security and gender analysis have to he taken into account in planning for day care centres. Planning and provision for these facilities has to be in step with development and parents should be enabled to have a access to these facilities in both residential neighborhoods and at their work places too.