In Focus: The best start in life for every child

Supporting early childhood development

 A mother in Turkmenistan holds her new baby at home during a celebration to welcome the child into the world.


Every child has the right to the best possible start in life, which paves the way for healthy development and lifelong learning. A poor start, however, can lead to lifelong

To ensure the best start for their children, all families need some support. But some vulnerable families, who face additional challenges such as poverty, disability or social exclusion, need more help than others.

UNICEF focuses on three key elements. First, we support young children and their families by tapping into their contact with health workers during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, when the most rapid development of the human brain builds the foundations for health, well-being and achievement. Our work promotes positive parenting, caring for the care-giver and non-violent forms of discipline.

Second, we promote early learning for all children, aged 3 to 6, by strengthening pre-primary education so that children arrive at primary school ready to make the most of their education.

Third, we promote the full inclusion of all children 6 years old and under who may have developmental delays or disabilities. We aim for universal access to high quality early intervention services that help them catch up and reinforce their skills – a sound investment that saves major resources for individuals and societies.

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