In 2014, the Hemera Foundation pledged support to its Bermuda-based directors by establishing a donor fund at the Bermuda Community Foundation (BCF). With its wider interest in promoting human flourishing, Hemera aimed to support programmes in Bermuda ranging from early childhood development to mindfulness, and other areas of social impact.
The Hemera Foundation Fund at BCF became increasingly invested in early childhood education. Its Directors championed founding contributions to the BCF’s Early Childhood Development Project and Research Fund (ECDPR) to pilot organisational and system-wide capacity building efforts to the sector by seed funding ECD projects. With contributions from the Gutteridge Family, the CV Zuill Fund, the Bank of Bermuda Foundation and private individuals, the ECDPR Fund funded the research and publication of the “Zero to Three in Bermuda: What Further Role Can Philanthropy and Government Play to Support Early Childhood Development” report.
The report revealed that in addition to funding for better and more ECD information and education, the strategy to achieve better outcomes for young children requires:
Flexible funding to reinforce ‘bright spots’ (public, private and nonprofit) with identified strategic needs
The expansion of, affordable and increased access to promising high quality programmes
Support for the development of the infrastructure (including standards and curricula) to coordinate an effective early childhood system across the islands of Bermuda.
The report became a catalyst for discussion and policy on how to better meet the needs of young children in Bermuda, and to help them thrive.
From 2016 onwards, the Hemera Fund continued to seek opportunities to make impactful social investments, developing a core set of champions working in the early childhood development field to improving outcomes for kids. In 2017, they agreed to fund the establishment of a website.
The website was initially meant to target child care providers and parents with information on best practices, i.e., caregiver to child ratios, child care facilities, CPR certification, and care philosophy. For parents, the idea was to grow their understanding of parenting and to inform them about things like regulations for caregivers and that they can have expectations for care, past CPR qualifications to information like a curriculum, important development markers, the nutritional value of food that the child is given during the day -- what you need to know, what you should expect, best practices to parents. The site was to offer a comprehensive list of childcare providers.
However, updates to the Government site began to address some of these information gaps (i.e., regulations for caregivers and tips on what to look for in a daycare), creating an opportunity to divert Hemera’s funds to another information gap: a comprehensive web-based resource on important developmental markers of healthy childhood development and a comprehensive listing of local resources.
There had already been some work done in this area.
A resource called the Red Flags Guide was first piloted in 2002, by the Simcoe County Early Intervention Council in Canada. In 2014, Bermuda Government’s Child Development Programme adapted the Red Flags Guide to promote the early identification of children who need additional resources to meet their developmental milestones. But the Bermuda adaptation of the Red Flags guide was only available to child care providers. With Bermuda being such a small island community with the pool of people caring for children quite small and overlapping, a public-facing tool that could inform parents, professionals and the larger community needed to be developed.
It took almost a year of desk-top and field research, followed by the review and classification of more than 250 nonprofits and services providers with a connection to early childhood development, and then the adaptation of guidance made available by the York Region of Canada, to introduce this customised Red Flags product to Bermuda.
The Hemera Foundation thanks the Bermuda Community Foundation, who in partnership with Sargasso Designs, brought www.RedFlagsBermuda.org - a resource for parents, caregivers and community members who have concerns about a child’s wellbeing, to fruition.