Consultancy for a Rapid Assessment of Caregiving Practices on Early Childhood Development in for 4 Months, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 192 views

Consultancy for a Rapid Assessment of Caregiving Practices on Early Childhood Development in Saudi Arabia for 4 Months

Job no: 528393

Position type: Consultancy

Location: Saudi Arabia Division/Equivalent: Amman(MENA)

School/Unit: Saudi Arabia

Department/Office: Riyadh, Gulf Area Office

Categories: Programme Management

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, hope

How can you make a difference?

UNICEF Gulf Area Office (UNICEF GAO) supports the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries to advance the rights of children under the framework of a sub-regional programme ending in 2023. This programme emphasizes four priority areas: advancing early childhood development, strengthening child protection systems, improving the collection and quality of data, and strengthening partnerships with a view to amplifying results for children.

Under the early childhood development pillar, UNICEF and partners will be pursuing two streams: the development, adoption and promotion of early childhood development services, policies and programmes; and to increase the number of communities, families, and caregivers who are reached through nurturing and parenting programmes.

The focus on early childhood development is borne out of the emerging evidence that the” first 1000 days” of a child’s life -from pregnancy through to the age of 2 years of age, presents an unparalleled opportunity to invest in a child’s development and future potential due to the sheer amount of transformation that occurs in a child’s brain. In fact, evidence has shown that 80% of a child’s brain has formed by the age of

  • UNICEF’s 2017 Programme Guidance for Early Childhood Development states: the brain requires multiple inputs: it requires stimulation and care to spark neural connections across multiple regions of the brain, to increase its capacity and function for early cognitive and language skills, social competency and emotional development; it requires good health and nutrition at the right time to feed and nourish not only the body but also the brain; it requires safety and protection to buffer against stress and pollution and allow absorption of nutrients for the growth and development of the nervous system, including the brain. All these aspects of the environment must work together to build a better brain during the early childhood period of life.

In 2017, the medical journal, the Lancet launched a Series, – Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale-consolidating the latest evidence and research on what works in early childhood development. This evidence promotes an accepted standard of care through the -nurturing care framework- which encourages a seamless investment in health, nutrition, early learning, protection as well as responsive caregiving.

National stakeholders in Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of the Family Affairs Council, are seeking to invest in appropriate context-responsive interventions, polices and programmes that would strengthen the availability and quality of integrated early childhood development services. To be able to tailor these efforts appropriately, partners in country must be equipped with an understanding of the current situation -particularly, the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) that drive parent/caregiver interaction with children from conception through to the first two years of life. With this information, national practitioners and stakeholders will be better placed to identify appropriate interventions and services packages that address key gaps.

Saudi Arabia’s national VISION 2030 plan, gives emphasis to human capital formation. This includes specific goals to ”enhance family involvement in preparing for their children’s future” and to promote ”lifelong learning”. UNICEF GAO, the Family Affairs Council and its partners are committed to ensuring this research product contributes to these national efforts.

With this backdrop, UNICEF GAO is seeking an institution or consultant that can undertake the following:

  • Review current legislation, policies and national programmes that spells out services directed at addressing early childhood development from 0-2 years of age;
  • Develop a methodology, including questionnaires, interview protocols, and reporting tools for focus group discussions and key informant discussions with care givers, service providers and other relevant persons, to better understand prevailing knowledge, attitudes, and practices around early childhood development among caregivers. This should assess the extent to which components of the nurturing care framework spelled out in the Lancet Series, ”Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale” is being practiced in the context of Saudi Arabia. Relevant domains to assess would be caregiving attitudes, behaviours and practices around health, nutrition, responsive care-giving, security and safety and early learning.
  • Under the guidance of the Family Affairs Council, and informed by the literature review, conduct focus group discussions, interviews and consultations, ensuring nuances in the diversity of experiences and perspectives across the Kingdom is captured (ie. geographical differences);
  • Produce an analytical report with the findings of the interviews, and the outlining recommendations (reflecting also best practices in early childhood development) to guide national plans to address substantial gaps in services, legislation, or programmes available.
  • Present the findings in a national validation workshop, and then proceed with the finalization of the report.

The objective of this consultancy is to Produce a report on prevailing knowledge, attitudes and practices of caregivers on ECD in Saudi Arabia, informed by discussions with service providers and caregivers and a literature review, to better understand early childhood development care practices in the country.

The institution would be expected to undertake the following:

  • Undertake an inception mission that would interview UNICEF GAO, the Family Affairs Council, and a number of other key line ministries to develop the scope and methodology for producing a report on prevailing early childhood development practices. This mission would also gather information related to legislation, policies and programmes currently informing early childhood development services. The inception report should list and critically discuss the materials and documents received for the desk review and propose a methodology for conducting the focus group discussions with caregivers and key informant interviews with service providers, including the tools elaborated for this purpose, and it would offer an outline of how the final report is expected to be organized.

Timeframe: Mission expected during week of 5 January.

Deliverable: Inception Report expected week of 26 January. It should include the literature review, a list of proposed stakeholders to interview, interview protocols, and outline for the final report.

Please note that all materials developed for the purposes of interviewing caregivers will be subject to UNICEF’s ethical clearance review.

  • Carry-out the focus group discussions and interviews based on the” nurturing care framework”. Given the diversity of geography in the Kingdom it is anticipated the interviews and discussions will allow for a means of gathering input from regions outside the capital. The process for doing this, the tools to be used, and approach would be developed under the guidance of UNICEF GAO and the Family Affairs Council.

Timeframe: Mission expected to take place during the week of February 9 and 16.

Deliverable: Reports from each interview and discussion.

  • Prepare the analytical report along with the literature review presenting findings and analysis. The report should also annex the literature review in accordance with the agreed outline.

Timeframe: First draft to be prepared by March 30.

Deliverable: First draft (including literature review and KAP analysis of focus groups and key informant interviews).

  • Prepare for the validation workshop. This would include integration of UNICEF’s feedback, involve the preparation of the agenda, a list of the expected stakeholders, and presentation to share the findings of the report.

Timeframe: Validation workshop expected to take place week of 19 April.

Deliverable: Presentation, agenda, and related materials for workshop.

  • Finalization of the report with a section for recommendations to be considered when developing a national action plan for strengthening early childhood development services for children under 2 years of age.

Timeframe: 30 April

Deliverable: Completion of report comprising of the literature review, KAP assessment process and findings, and recommendations.

Ethical consideration:

This consultancy involves primary data collections from individuals through Focus Group Discussions and Key Informant Interviews, and should follow the UNICEF Procedures for Ethical Standards in Research, Evaluation, Data Collection and Analysis ( ).

Before the collection of data (FDGs and KII) a written informed consent must be sought from all participants. The purpose of the study should be thoroughly explained to them, along with the role, and what information will be asked from them, and the assurance of the confidentiality and voluntariness of their answers.

The tools for data collection (FDGs and KII protocols, including the informed consent forms) and the inception report should be submitted to an Ethics Review Board for clearance. The UNICEF Regional Office for MENA will facilitate the process of request of the clearance.

Reporting: The Lead Consultant/ and or institution will report to the UNICEF Gulf Area Office Deputy Representative.

Payment Schedule:

Tranche 1 (20%): Upon submission of the inception report.

Tranche 2 (40%): Upon submission of the first draft of the report.

Tranche 3: (40%): Upon delivery of workshop and submission of final report.

Consultancy Fees:

The lead consultant should submit the application and state the lump sum fee for the assignment. This fee to be paid to the lead consultant should factor in:

  • Any additional expertise according to the thematic areas of the assignment;
  • Travel within KSA to 1-2 locations for 1-2 days each for field work, in addition to travel to KSA for the inception mission, field work and validation workshop.

UNICEF will assist with the visas related to the lead consultant and any additional experts identified at time of application.

The total fee structure will be discussed with UNICEF in detail before finalization of contract.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have¦

  • The institution must have demonstrated experience in assessing, recommending and designing early childhood development programmes that primarily focuses on the first two years of life.
  • Such expertise should be multi-sector and demonstrate expertise in evidence on nutrition, health, responsive caregiving, safety, and early learning.
  • At least 15 years of developing research studies in the field of early childhood development, including participatory approaches, designing early childhood development interventions, and a demonstrable track record in aiding national level partners. Should be able to demonstrate ability to distill best practice to context.
  • The institution members should have advanced degrees in the social sciences, including qualitative and quantitative research methods as well as early childhood.
  • Language: Fluent in English (written and spoken); Arabic skills would be an asset.

Other Prior work or research related to high income country settings, including the Gulf region is an asset. As would Arabic language skills within the team.

For every Child, you demonstrate:

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

View our competency framework at

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles.


Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with UNICEF and an underlying premise of the international civil service.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Advertised: Dec 09 2019 Arab Standard Time Application close: Dec 22 2019 Arab Standard Time

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