Job Title: ECCE Impact Evaluation Consultant
Palladium International LLC is a leading global consulting firm that manages nearly $2 billion in donor-funded projects in more than 90 countries while simultaneously providing management consulting advice to private sector firms and local and national governments throughout the world. It is well-known for its work in private sector development, market systems, innovative/inclusive finance, and the formation of public-private alliances. Palladium adds value by aligning business interests with development objectives, leveraging donor resources with commercial assets and vice versa. This market-driven approach ensures interventions are impactful, inclusive, and address the root causes of today’s biggest development challenges while also being sustainable beyond the life of a particular donor-funded program.
PROJECT AND BUY-IN OVERVIEW
Palladium International, LLC is implementing the $250 million, 8-year USAID CATALYZE contract which offers a facilitated partnership model that will craft solutions to crowdsource $2 billion in blended finance (i.e., blended concessional and commercial finance) to USAID partner countries; it can work in any development sector or region.
The CATALYZE Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) activity aims to enhance access to low-cost and high-quality ECCE which unlocks inclusive development, improving child outcomes, promoting women’s economic empowerment, enhancing family welfare, and driving overall economic growth. ECCE seeks to fill the gap in education that nearly 593 million children below primary school age currently experience; specifically, they lack access to appropriate childcare in emerging economies, constraining human capital growth. Meanwhile, women, who assume an estimated 75% of childcare responsibilities worldwide are often unable to pursue economic opportunities given care responsibilities. As a result, 606 million women worldwide are excluded from the global labour force, with consequent impacts on productivity and economic growth.
The gap in access to high-quality ECCE results from both supply and demand-side constraints. While the public sector provides ECCE in most markets, coverage is often incomplete or poorly aligned with household needs. Non-state, including private, faith-based, philanthropically supported, and community-led ECCE are an important complement to government provided ECCE, but non-state ECCE providers are scarce in many markets. Barriers to offering non-state ECCE services include inconsistent or fragmented registration and accreditation requirements, limited access to financing, and limited profitability given substantial operating costs resulting from high caregiver-child ratios. Even when childcare providers exist, accessible options are often low-quality due to a lack of trained professionals in the field. On the demand-side, many families do not access ECCE due to high cost, low-quality provision, misalignment between existing services and their needs, and cultural norms discouraging use of childcare outside the home.
In addition to expanding equitable access to high-quality ECCE to improve learning outcomes for children and improving livelihood outcomes for women, the ECCE Family of Investments aims to building an evidence base around the most effective models and approaches for leveraging multi-stakeholder investment and innovation to reach these goals. These interventions serve as the innovation incubator aimed at providing evidence to clarify how blended finance approaches and public-private partnership models can efficiently improve outcomes for young learners and their families.
OBJECTIVE and PURPOSE OF ECCE LAC—Paraguay
The LAC-Paraguay buy-in has two components. The first is ECCE focused and aims to:
- Increase equitable access to ECCE. Per USAID’s How -To Note on Developing High-Quality Pre-Primary Programs, all children between ages 3-6 should have at least one year of steady access to quality ECCE (where availability is limited), but children should ideally be enrolled in ECCE for two to three years. Likewise, access to quality ECCE is also important for younger children between 0-3 as it provides a safe, nurturing environment for care and quality education outside the home, enabling female caregivers pursue economic opportunities. Access is defined along five key dimensions:
- Availability: ECCE should be available during hours that facilitate the engagement of women in the formal labour force, although half-day programs are not inappropriate for improving children’s learning and development outcomes.
- Accessibility: High-quality ECCE services targeting children ages 0-6 should be present in urban, peri-urban and rural communities, including and households should not be required to put forth undue effort to use ECCE services.
- Accommodation: ECCE service provision should be adapted to address the specific needs of the poor, children with disabilities, and ethnic or religious minorities between ages 0-6.
- Affordability: The cost of ECCE should be commensurate with household income levels in a given community such that no children are unable to attend on the basis of cost.
- Acceptability: Social norms should not stigmatize the use of ECCE services or otherwise hamper women’s ability to access childcare.
- Improve program quality. “Program quality” includes issues of structural quality such as teacher training (see also below), class size/student-teacher ratio, access to adequate nutrition, and the physical safety of the learning environment. Program quality also encompasses process quality; for example, are curricula developmentally appropriate? Are there positive teacher-student interactions? Does the program follow play-based pedagogy with appropriate learning materials readily available? Do ECCE providers appropriately engage with families and communities to encourage better learning outcomes, etc.? Is the provider using validated metrics to monitor and evaluate learning and child development? Is the provider using regular formative assessment data to inform the provision of education including appropriate play?
- Support the professionalization of ECCE providers. Per the USAID How-To Note, a pre-primary “teacher” is anyone who leads a group of children with the aim of improving their early learning skills, including people recognized by an authority as a professional, as well as those who are not. This could include teachers, teaching assistants, facilitators, paraprofessionals, care providers, volunteers, etc. Ideally “teachers”, as broadly defined above, would receive specialized pre- and in-service training, and be guided by a professional competency framework that details the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviours needed to provide quality ECCE. Professionalization also includes strengthening management practices and establishing payment systems for teachers, among other tasks.
- Design and promote market-based solutions that increase formal employment and self-employment opportunities both inside and outside the ECCE sector. The workforce in the care economy (including ECCE) is largely female and offers employment and income generation opportunities for women who expand affordable childcare to underserved communities. Additionally, expanded access to high-quality ECCE may enable female caregivers to access childcare to pursue income-generating opportunities outside the ECCE sector.
The second ECCE LAC Activity, funded by the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Hub (GenDev) office at USAID, will provide technical and vocational training as well social norm engagement activities. This component aims to:
- Increase women’s advancement, economic security, and empowerment (formality of sector, pay, and women’s flexibility, e.g., with schedules).
- Increase intrahousehold impacts, including but not limited to bargaining power, IPV, and time use (both paid and unpaid for women and men)
- Improve wellbeing, including but not limited to, mental health, and physical, and stress.
The ECCE Evaluation consultant will be part of an evaluation team which will be conducting a quasi-experimental evaluation of select ECCE and GenDev LAC activities (section C). While research design is being finalized, the anticipated approach will likely include an evaluation of:
- Vocational training, matching or support of mothers of young ECCE learners: activities could include linkages with existing vocational training programs, additional supports for training programs, small loans to participate in training, or linkages with apprenticeship or similar programs or activities.
- Social norms engagement activities will also be introduced to discourage backlash and increase women’s empowerment. Some of the social norms which may be addressed include: household and caregiving work responsibilities for women, jobs considered acceptable for women, and gender based violence.
The goal of the evaluation is to assess the extent to which pairing ECCE with short-term, targeted vocational skills training to female caregivers and engaging male household members on social norms around women’s workforce participation can lead to improvements in women’s livelihoods, intra-household dynamics, and physical and emotional wellbeing. To achieve this goal, the evaluation will be guided by the following research questions:
- What impact does female caregivers’ participation in vocational training and/or male household members’ participation social norms engagement activities have on female caregivers’ livelihoods, intra-household dynamics, and physical and emotional wellbeing?
- Does participation in the layered interventions increase the proportion of female caregivers who enter better, formal, or higher paying positions compared to the proportion of female caregivers of children in ECCE centers that did not receive the interventions?
- Does participation in the layered interventions increase the proportion of female caregivers who report improved intra-household dynamics compared to the proportion of female caregivers of children in ECCE centers that did not receive the interventions?
- Does participation in the layered interventions increase the proportion of female caregivers who report improved physical and emotional wellbeing compared to the proportion of female caregivers of children in ECCE centers that did not receive the interventions?
TASKS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The consultant will work with the Palladium MELA team (TBD) to:
- Support the design of the impact evaluation, including sampling.
- Support the development of the methodology section of the protocol for the impact evaluation.
This will be a Firm-Fixed Price contract. The consultant will deliver the following outputs:
Deliverable 1: First draft of the evaluation design section of the methodology section of the protocol.
- Acceptance Criteria: Review and approval by PI or co-PI
- Payment Amount (% of Total Contract Value): 60%
Deliverable 2: Final design section of the methodology section of the protocol, after responding to comments from the team and from USAID.
- Acceptance Criteria: Review and approval by PI or co-PI
- Payment Amount (% of Total Contract Value): 40%
- The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications and experience:
Significant experience leading impact evaluations.
- Familiarity with USAID guidance on evaluations.
- Experience with the design of impact evaluations of interventions with women and men in developing countries.
The following qualifications are preferred:
- Experience with gender and women’s empowerment assessment and measurement.
The consultant will be overseen by the MELA team undertaking the impact evaluation.
PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE AND DELIVERY TIMING
This will be a remote position with the anticipated period of performance will be from October 2023 to March 2024.
About Palladium – Palladium is a global leader in the design, development and delivery of Positive Impact – the intentional creation of enduring social and economic value. We work with governments, businesses, and investors to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. With a team of more than 3,000 employees operating in 90 plus countries and a global network of over 35,000 experts, we help improve economies, societies and, most importantly, people’s lives.
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion – Palladium is committed to embedding equity, diversity, and inclusion into everything we do. We welcome applications from all sections of society and actively encourage diversity to drive innovation, creativity, success and good practice. We positively welcome and seek to ensure we achieve diversity in our workforce; and that all job applicants and employees receive equal and fair treatment regardless of their background or personal characteristics. These include: (but are not limited to) socio-economic background, age, race, gender identity and expression, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, nationality, veteran, marital or Indigenous status.
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