At the end of 2013, working sessions were held with potential partners interested in early childhood development in Panama. The aim was to formulate a pilot project to remodel existing ECD infrastructures. To further this proposal a Panamanian delegation traveled to Colombia in 2013 to visit, observe, and experience the “First Thing’s First” program and the Colombian model of an ECD center.
ALAS’ model of operation is to work exclusively in a country where private donors and the local government have both voiced their interest in cooperating towards the expansion of coverage for children under age 6. This characteristic was met in Panama and to this effect a Memorandum of Understanding was officially signed, by the Ministry of Social Development and ALAS, on September 8th 2014. This agreement aims to implement a pilot project to improve the quality of services provided in four Centers for Child and Family Development (COIF: Centros de Orientación Infantil y Familiar) in this Central American country; and will be supported by Stanley Motta, ALAS’ benefactor, philanthropist and Chairman of Copa Holdings, SA.
The Ministry of Social Development will ensure the sustainability and maintenance of these facilities. Juan Antonio Pungiluppi, ALAS’ Executive Director, highlighted the importance of this agreement, stating: “Signing this agreement is a step forward for the promotion of early childhood development in our region with the best possible partners, the Government of Panama. We believe that this joint effort between ALAS and the Ministry of Social Development will pave the way to innovate services offered by our neighboring country in favor of early childhood. We could not be happier to realize this joint dream in Panama, the place where our great Latin American movement for early childhood, called ALAS, all began.”
To date, 5 potential Centers have been initially identified and are being evaluated in order to determine their viability. In addition, each center will receive technical assistance, provided by Early Childhood experts, on topics such as: nutrition, early learning, among others.