Growing through sharing together: Needs and aspirations of Romani Early Childhood professionals

The questionnaires and interviews asked a series of questions to determine the professional needs of participants, as they perceive them. Participants overwhelmingly saw a need for further in-service training which would result in either certifications or diplomas. They stipulated that this in-service training should not take the place of formal training, which was viewed as essential. Participants showed significant interest in study-visits as a form of in-service training, and saw value in participating in a European ECD network. However, interestingly, participants did not place a high value for online networking or mentoring. The implementers of the study think this is likely due to a large portion of the participants' lack of previous engagement in effective, well-planned online networking interactions.

Given the results of the study, ISSA and OSF/ECP moved forward with launching a new partnership initiative in the second half of 2012. The Romani Early Years Network (REYN) is a network hosted and managed by ISSA, launched as a partnership with Open Society Foundations' Roma 'Kopaçi' initiatives of the Early Childhood Programme. The Network focuses on emerging and established Romani early childhood development professionals, as well as other professionals working in the field of ECD with Roma, Ashkali, Egyptian, Sinti, Gitano and other communities. REYN's main purpose is to support the development of skills and good practice, extend the knowledge drawn from experiences of working effectively with Romani families and children in ECD, establish effective partnerships between Roma and other ECD professionals and paraprofessionals and support professional development for those working with these marginalized and excluded groups. Practitioners who are interested in joining the REYN network are encouraged to write to membership@issa.nl.