We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.

Early Childhood

UNICEF in action

© UNICEF/Uganda/Wandera
Children walk in the hot sun to a water tap to fetch water in Lokore village. Prior to its installation, they competed for water or accessed water from dirty ponds.

Early Childhood Development interventions cut across all UNICEF programme areas. Ensuring that children develop to their full potential requires interventions in programmes for child survival and development, education, HIV/AIDS, child protection, and social policy and partnerships. For example, UNICEF’s work to support community and family care practices that impact the lives of young children not only use health and nutrition interventions but also add early stimulation and interaction. Similarly, ensuring that young children are developmentally ready for school is an integral part of UNICEF’s education priority.

UNICEF focuses on four areas of intervention for early childhood development:

  1. quality basic health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, education and protection services;
  2. good care practices for children within the family and community;
  3. early child development policies; and
  4. peacebuilding in early childhood. UNICEF works with governments, civil society, private sector, communities, inter-governmental agencies and other partners to achieve the following objectives:

  • Improved service delivery capacity for early childhood development at the national, district and local levels;
  • Improved family and community care practices for survival, growth and development;
  • Develop policies and coordinating structures to include early childhood development into national development plans, funding and mechanisms;
  • Increased ability to monitor child development and family care competencies for informed decision-making;
  • Young children included in programming and policies in emergency response -providing play and learning to ensure their continued development.

By systematically and critically employing a number of proven evidence-based strategies, working across sectors and with partners, utilizing innovative communication channels, building on local strengths and needs, using scientific knowledge and linking services to existing interventions, UNICEF is able to reach communities, parents, families, caregivers and most of all, children.

In this context, UNICEF’s Programme Guidance for Early Childhood Development provides a framework for implementing the commitments made for ECD within the Sustainable Development Goals and the Strategic Plan (2018-2021). It identifies evidence-based multi-sectoral intervention packages, delivery platforms, implementation strategies, and organizational arrangements needed to advance the ECD agenda. One of its key purposes is to help strengthen and scale up the implementation of programmes supported by government, UNICEF and other partners to assist parents, care givers, and other service providers in delivering developmentally appropriate interventions and services for young children. 



New enhanced search