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Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce at Scale: Community health workers and the expansion of first 1000 days services in South Africa
As global focus shifts towards the potential of community-based caregivers to address inequitable health systems and aid countries’ drive towards universal health coverage (UHC), there is increasing belief, and evidence that, well-supported para-professionals, including CHWs and other home visitors, can be effective partners in delivering these services. There is limited information about the specific set of services CHWs provide, the time each service takes, and the relative quality of service provided.6 While as many as 72,000 community-based workers have been identified in South Africa, their training, skills, and functions vary considerably. This study underscores the importance of considering the context in which the workforce operates when assessing the viability and sustainability of expanding services. In South Africa, this means addressing the implementation gaps and aligning training with needs for best outcomes for vulnerable children and families.