Early childhood development
For every child, early moments matter.
Faster than we ever thought: the first years of a child’s life set the stage for all future growth.
In the earliest years of life, especially from pregnancy to age three, babies need nutrition, protection and stimulation for healthy brain development. These early years also provide the basis on the Pacific region’s human capital: investing today reaps rewards for the future. Unfortunately, many children in the Pacific region are not enjoying the opportunities to develop to their full potential.
Given the state of Early Childhood Development (ECD) in the region, UNICEF Pacific is working to strengthen support and services for every child to give them the best possible start in life.
“Young children being born now in several Pacific Island Countries are only going to be achieving about 47 per cent – not even half – of their development potential due to limited opportunities in health and education.”
What is ECD?
ECD is a comprehensive approach to policies and programmes for children from birth to age of school entry, their parents and caregivers. In the Pacific, this age of school entry is typically five years old.
What is the goal of ECD?
The long-term vision of change is that all young children in the Pacific achieve their developmental potential in equitable inclusive care environments, programme and policies, including in humanitarian settings. Subsumed under this goal are two objectives on ECD:
- By 2022, children in the Pacific up to age of school entry have equitable access to optimal early childhood development services (quality child care, health, nutrition, protection and early learning services); and
- By 2022, parents and caregivers in the Pacific practice nurturing care that supports early childhood development.
UNICEF Pacific works with governments to make systemic improvements in legislation, policies, management, financing and technical capacity on ECD, meanwhile working with parents, communities and partners to improve the delivery of essential services to young children and families.
UNICEF Pacific is employing six strategies to promote ECD in the region:
1) Fostering multi-sectoral coordination for ECD;
2) Improving delivery of essential services;
3) Promoting caregiving behaviours, demand for services and social norms for positive parenting;
4) Broadening data and evidence-gathering systems;
5) Strengthening public financing for ECD; and
6) Using advocacy and communications to support ECD programmatic goals.