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TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs


TOY for Inclusion aims to improve the transition experience of vulnerable children, especially those with a Roma, minority or migrant background, to schools. It does so by creating community-based ECEC Play Hubs, where relationships between young children and families from different backgrounds are built. There are 37 Play Hubs and 3 Mobile Play Hubs in 9 European countries.



HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.

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Target group
Students early
June 2024
- smoother transitions between home and (pre)school especially for vulnerable children - more inclusive ECEC and (pre)school settings - stronger collaboration between educational institutions and communities - improved intersectoral collaboration - improved socio-emotional skills in young children - improved preparedness for (pre)primary school - increased parental involvement

About the innovation

Why the TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs?

What we do?

TOY for Inclusion aims to improve the transition experience of vulnerable young children (0-10), and especially those with a Roma, minority, refugee or migrant background, to schools. It does so by creating community-based Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Play Hubs, where relationships between young children and families from different backgrounds are built. They are located in areas that are reachable for all families, often where no ECEC services exist, and are designed and run by multi-sectoral teams composed of representatives of communities, school and preschool teachers, health services, parents and local authorities (Local Action Team).

The TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs organize play-based activities designed to help children develop the necessary skills and knowledge for formal education. The Local Action Teams, responsible for each Play Hub, mobilize local communities around young children. Activities can take place in the Hubs but also in other settings in the communities, such as community centers, libraries, parks, squares, preschools, health centers.

The Play Hubs also function as parenting support hub where parents and grandparents can visit with their young children/grandchildren to borrow toys and books, and at the same time, learn about how play supports children’s learning development and access information about other child- and family-focused services and events in the community. Play Hubs are aimed to serve as centers for the community and reach beyond education and care, primarily by offering space for activities dealing with health, nutrition, etc.

Why we do it?

High-quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) is an essential foundation for all children’s successful lifelong learning, social integration, and later employability. Disparities in access to quality education and increasing segregation in schools start at a young age. By creating inclusive non-formal ECEC services and by supporting practitioners from different sectors to work collaboratively to ensure positive transitions, TOY for Inclusion becomes the gateway to education and care for many disadvantaged children and families in Europe.


So far, 37 Play Hubs and 3 Mobile Play Hubs have been opened in 9 European countries. Between 2018 and 2023, more than 40.000 children, 15.000 adults and 2.500 practitioners participated in the activities in the Play Hubs. Approximately 30% of the children, adults and practitioners came from vulnerable groups: migrants, refugees, Roma, low income or special needs.


• Increased access of vulnerable children (0-6) to inclusive and quality ECEC settings and improved transition experience to school

• Increased knowledge and skills of practitioners and local policymakers to work together with and for all children and families

• TOY for Inclusion approach embedded in local educational policies.

• Improved parental skills and increased trust of vulnerable communities in the local services

• Increased trust between families of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

• Ongoing learning, social and emotional support for 6 to 10 year-old children during out of school hours

TOY for Inclusion is coordinated by International Child Development Initiatives – ICDI (NL), in a collaborative initiative in the International Step-by-Step Association Network– ISSA (NL). This included the following ISSA members: Developmental Research Center for Pedagogical Initiatives Step by Step – DRCPI SBS (Slovenia), Open Academy Step by Step – OASBS (Croatia), Centre for Education Initiatives – CEI (Latvia), Wide Open School – WOS (Slovakia), Centre for Innovation in the Early Years – VBJK (Belgium), Associazione 21 Luglio (Italy) and Partners Hungary Foundation (Hungary). 


Monitoring and Evaluation Report 2023
Infographic - Monitoring and Evaluation 2023
TOY for Inclusion Website
TOY for Inclusion Play Hubs: a non-formal, inclusive, community-based Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) model for disadvantaged young children, especially from migrant and minority groups in Europe | Inclusive Education in Action
Recommendations for Policy and Practice This guide documents the promising practices of the ECEC Play Hubs, which support integration of Roma at local level. The practices and the recommendations are based on the evidence from the TOY for Inclusion project piloted in 7 countries.
Operating Guidelines for Mobile Play Hubs and outdoor education by ICDI
ICDI's Toolkit on Inclusive Community-based Non-Formal ECEC
Handbook ‘Play for Inclusion’ on inclusive play-based activities that promote integration and healing from trauma for young refugee children.
Playing as the gateway to school and inclusion
TOY for Inclusion at the European Parliament
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Implementation steps

Community Mapping
The first step is to do a context analysis that describes some general features of the locality where the Play Hub will be located. The second step is to conduct a stakeholder mapping exercise, to identify key individuals and organizations operating in the chosen locality, who are also potential partners and collaborators in the Play Hub.
It is based on these lists that you will identify and select the members of the Local Action Team.
The Local Action Team (LAT)
In each target community, a Local Action Team (LAT) will be established with relevant stakeholders. The LATs should be formed with sustainability in mind: a group of stakeholders representing different institutions and communities trained to work together to support and initiate social cohesion initiatives.
Members of the LAT are trained on the TOY for Inclusion approach and to design, implement and evaluate the Play Hub in collaboration with local services and municipalities.
Need assessment
The LAT assesses the needs of all young children and families, and especially vulnerable groups, in the community/municipality where the Play Hub will operate. The need assessment will help identify the location, which activities to implement and which collaborations to establish. Opening hours and days and Play Hub activities are adaptable and based on needs of its users and collectively agreed upon.
Setting up the Play Hub
The most important factor to consider in deciding on the location of the Play Hub is the accessibility to families with young children i.e., at a walkable distance from where most children are living. Examples of good locations for Play Hubs include: a community centre, a kindergarten, a primary school, a public library.
Now, organise a great opening party and promote the Play Hub to families and services around you.
Monitoring and Evaluation
All Play Hubs collect the same data on an annual basis through standardized forms, which are analysed by ICDI. Findings inform improvements and new directions.

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