Early childhood development

UNICEF works to ensure all children have access to early childhood services

a young child with her mother, Moldova

The challenge

Research findings indicate that there is a need to further improve parenting skills in Moldova.

Children who grow in a secure, loving and nurturing home environment are better able to withstand life’s challenges and achieve their full potential. Positive and supportive parenting is essential for the physical and mental development and well-being of children from early years, throughout childhood and adolescence and into adulthood. Positive parenting helps to develop strong self-control and builds the resilience to cope with setbacks and has long-term benefits for children. In contrast, poor parenting practices are associated with adolescent emotional and behavioural problems.

Moldovan parents are increasingly aware of the need to play with, talk to and read to their children, but parenting skills are still falling far short of a child’s necessary threshold.

Only two per cent of mothers and caregivers recognize the two danger signs of pneumonia. And less than 20 per cent of all parents believe children with disabilities should attend regular preschools together with other children.

There is still little progress in the number of families applying positive care practices. Many parents consider beating acceptable. More than half of children between 2 and 4 years old are reported to have been physically punished.


Many parents consider beating acceptable. The younger the child is, the more likely it is she will be physically punished.

father reads

Less than one in two fathers read to their children of three to five years old.

roma children

Only 20 per cent of Roma children attend a pre-school compared to 80 per cent of non-Roma children.

The solution

UNICEF works with medical staff, pre-school educators and social workers so that they can teach early childhood development skills to parents. Caregivers’ engagement, capacities and skills are being reinforced, allowing them to take greater responsibility for appropriate childcare, health, development, education and protection. In particular, capacities in stimulation of young children and positive disciplining are improved.

This includes helping mothers and fathers to interact more with babies and young children, recognize child development stages, understand the role of nurturing care and play, stimulate children’s cognition and use positive, non-violent practices to raise their children from birth to adolescence.

UNICEF continues to promote communication between parents and other caretakers, creating a greater appreciation for diversity, including acceptance for children with disabilities. It supports the development of the cross-sectorial policy documents on positive parenting.

Why are the first 1,000 days important? In the first years of life, neurons in a child's brain form new connections at the rate of 1,000 per second: a pace never repeated again.