A safe alternative for childcare in Bucharest during the pandemic

Due to the pandemic, a large number of parents are forced to juggle their duties at work with caring for very young children who need their full attention. Unfortunately,  in this challenging situation,  many parents find no alternative but to give their children electronic devices or television entertainment, while attending to other tasks.  As a result, children aged 0-6 years are frequently exposed to screens for much longer periods of time than recommended by the WHO, and this can affect their long-term social and neurological development.

Many good, conscientious parents finding themselves in this situation are very concerned and need safe alternatives that can offer their children the appropriate early childhood sensorial experiences, structure, routine, and nurturing care that they need now, more than ever.   However, with kindergartens and schools suspended, costs for nannies soaring, and many grandparents needing to protect their health, there are very few viable options available for most parents.

AMURTEL’s  Child-Friendly Space (CFS) program comes to the aid of families as a solution to this situation.

What is a Child-Friendly Space? (CFS)

AMURTEL Romania has opened a temporary “Child-Friendly Space” (CFS) program at its Bucharest location (strada Foisorului 121).

This initiative was inspired by one of the main activities of AMURT / AMURTEL organizations on the international level, as a response to critical situations such as natural disasters, the refugee crisis, or in this case, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Internationally,  AMURT/ AMURTEL has had experience in organizing Child-Friendly Space programs in countries such as Indonesia, Haiti, Lebanon, and Myanmar.  The children who benefitted from structured activities, psycho-social support, and caring relationships at a CFS managed to overcome the traumas caused by the event much easier.

In Romania, AMURTEL is providing parents in Bucharest a similar CFS program, that offers children opportunities for play, exploration, nurturing care, and psycho-social support.  Daily, they spend a good part of the day outside in the fresh air, in a generous courtyard, where they can run, play with pebbles, dig in the sand, and enjoy the scent of mint, rosemary and sage.  They listen to stories designed to help them understand and adjust to the changes they see in the world around them because of the pandemic so that they can identify and process their emotions.

Children need stability and clear routines to follow, which give a sense of safety.  Coming to the CFS helps them regain a sense of normalcy that has often been disrupted by the unpredictable and often confusing changes happening because of the pandemic. Children are very sensitive to the important adults in their lives, and will immediately absorb their emotions. Situations that create fear and anxiety among adults impact them deeply as well.

This is a temporary program, seen as a solution to the problems faced by parents and children in this delicate period.

While the program is not offering formal education, our experienced caregivers believe that play is one of the most important opportunities to ensure children’s balanced socio-emotional development.  The program includes:  a daily circle with therapeutic story telling, quiet time, self-regulation exercises, yoga for children, outdoor activities,  arts, sensorial activities, and play.

In order to fully comply with the safety measures needed to limit the spread of the virus, and to protect all persons involved, this program is addressed to a limited number of children.

The program will run only as long as face-to-face gatherings of children are not restricted, but schools and kindergartens are suspended.

How to keep the children safe?

Within the program, AMURTEL is strictly observing the following hygiene measures to ensure the safety of the children, staff and families:

  • daily disinfection of spaces by means of a UV lamp;
  • frequent ventilation of indoor spaces throughout the day
  • not overheating the indoor spaces (viruses and bacteria multiply more easily in heat) 20-22 degrees maximum is the temperature recommended by the Department of Health for childcare spaces
  • spending as much time as possible outdoors, weather permitting
  • placement of plexiglass panels at tables used by children indoors;
  • a full-time nurse who performs the triage of the children every morning and monitors their temperature and other symptoms
  • frequent handwashing for 20 seconds, both indoors and outdoors
  • disinfecting hand gels in every classroom if a child is observed touching his nose or face
  • frequent disinfection of high-touch surfaces, especially tables, bathrooms, doorknobs several times a day;
  • all staff wear facial protection (masks or visors)

Schedule and rates

  • Short program 1: until 12:00, price 1000 Ron + 6 RON / day for breakfast, fruit snack, no lunch
  • Short program 2: until 13.00, price 1250 Ron + 12 RON / day meals for breakfast, fruit snack, lunch
  • Extended program: until 18.00, price 1350 Ron + 17 RON / day for breakfast, fruit snack, lunch and snack

Extra-long program: until 19.00, price 1400 Ron + 19 RON / day for breakfast, fruit snack, lunch, snack, and dinner

For more details, we invite you to contact the president of the AMURTEL association.

Didi A. Devapriya at the phone number 0744565252