Growing Steady and Strong

Early Childhood Development Regional Guidance in East Asia and the Pacific

Image from a project trip of children posing for the camera


Young children need to be nurtured and cared for in a holistic manner by their main caregivers and service providers. This means that as early as during pregnancy, mothers should receive all the necessary physical and emotional support and services to secure a safe pregnancy and delivery. Babies should have a protective, healthy and adequately stimulating environment, while toddlers and young children should be nourished, protected, and ready to learn by the age of 5. Governments and stakeholders can contribute to achieving this through integrated policies and programming. Robust financing and assessments are needed to track child development and the quality of early childhood development (ECD) services for countries to firmly advance towards the achievement of target 4.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The ECD Regional Guidance in East Asia and the Pacific, Growing Steady and Strong, aspires to provide clear, useful and context-adaptable tools for advancing the ECD agenda in countries. It presents the most up-to-date research, tools and global guidance from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as well as other ECD expert organizations. It contains country examples and best practices to strengthen the regional community of learning and practice to support UNICEF country offices in planning and advocating for ECD policies and programming. 

In recent years, countries in the region have made significant gains in reducing the number of children at risk of not reaching their maximum developmental potential. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed this trend by exacerbating the inequity gaps, which has highlighted the importance of sustainable and sufficient investments for countries to build back faster and better from the crisis. Therefore, sustainable and equitable investment in ECD interventions, especially targeting the most vulnerable (such as children with developmental delays and disabilities, children from ethnic minority groups, and rural and dispersed areas), is a strategic and effective way for countries to mitigate the negative impacts the pandemic has brought upon younger children and their families. 

Now is the time for all relevant stakeholders to implement high quality, timely and sustainable, scalable actions to push forward the ECD agenda towards urgent recovery to build back better. Growing Steady and Strong reflects UNICEF’s commitment to young children and their families by providing technical guidance and support to all UNICEF country officers and stakeholders to move forward the ECD agenda in the region. 

Growing Steady and Strong report cover
UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office
Publication date


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