Minutes-old newborn in the United States.
The State of the Worlds Children 2001:
What happens during the very earliest years of a childs life, from
birth to age 3, influences how the rest of childhood and adolescence unfolds.
Yet, this critical time is usually neglected in the policies, programmes
and budgets of countries. Drawing on reports from the world over, The
State of the Worlds Children 2001 details the daily lives of
parents and other caregivers who are striving - in the face of war, poverty
and the HIV/AIDS epidemic - to protect the rights and meet the needs of
these young children.
Choices to be made: The opening section
makes the case for investing in the earliest years of childhood, before the
age of three, when brain development is most malleable and rights are most
vulnerable. It sets out the options governments have about where and when
to make investments to ensure that children under three have their rights
protected and their needs met. And it introduces the importance of early childhood
development programmes, not only for children, their parents and caregivers,
but for the progress of nations as a whole.
A necessary choice: Attention to the
youngest children is most needed where it is most difficult to guarantee:
in countries where the seemingly intractable grip of poverty, violence and
devastating epidemics seriously challenge parents hopes and dreams for their
children. This section argues that early childcare can act as an effective
antidote to cycles of violence, conflict, poverty and HIV/AIDS.
The only responsible choice: Parents
struggle, often against great odds, to do right by their children. In industrialized
and developing countries alike they find advice and aid from informal support
networks and community agencies with innovative childcare programmes. The
final section describes these experiments and experiences and makes the case
why, in the long run, investment in ECD pays off.