Convenings bring new ideas on Urban95 and Parents+

In 2017, we held two “convenings” on our investment areas Urban95 and Parents+, bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders from the early childhood field and beyond with a view to making new connections and generating practical ideas to inform a “starter kit” that synthesises what we’re learning. The Urban95 convening took place in May, and Parents+ in December.

Bus stops, playgrounds and walking tours

Participants in the Urban95 convening came from all over the world and included architects, urban planners, experts in how cities can make better use of data to improve social policy, and experts in branding and storytelling. Ideas included making bus stops more playable; making playgrounds more attractive for parents to spend time, with places to buy coffee and sit down; and creating a position in a city government dedicated to representing young children’s interests in every department – an idea we are currently trialling in Tirana.

After the convening, we adapted our Urban95 strategy – more fully incorporating our traditional early childhood development activities focused on parenting into our newer work on mobility, data and public space, and more actively engaging the planning and design communities through events such as a walking tour of child-friendly public spaces in London for city officials from around the world.

Designing and implementing bundled parent coaching programmes

When experts from 17 countries gathered in Amsterdam to explore and define best practices in delivering coaching to parents on child development, we reviewed together programmes that have and have not successfully scaled, and looked for common characteristics; identified good practices to overcome common challenges; explored how to brand parenting interventions; and discussed how best to use media, technology and behavioural economics to improve the cost-effectiveness of programmes.

Highlights included an interview with Linda Leijdekker from the First 1000 Days team of Amsterdam’s Healthy Weight Programme, which the Bernard van Leer Foundation is supporting. Three days of discussions ended with over 70 new ideas for exploration, an emerging consensus on the kind of guidance needed to help partners design and implement bundled parent coaching programmes, and a request from participants for more consistent learning across countries.