Erradicating cholera from Hispaniola

The Mother-Child Pastoral Service joins the fight against cholera

Health and Nutrition: Zero Tolerance Initiative

Childhood Malnutrition


Early Childhood Development


Early Childhood Development

© UNICEF/DR/2006/Piantini

A good start in life

Evidence clearly shows that the first 36 months of a person’s life provide the fundamental basis for their physical, emotional, intellectual and social development.

Enjoying health, nutrition and education, as well as good care and affection from parents during the early stages of life prevents the risk of causing delays in development that could be irreversible. This is why article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child. Ensuring the best possible start in life for boys and girls provides the basis for ensuring the fulfilment of all their other rights.
For many years children’s early development was solely in the hands of parents and the extended family. However, nowadays, poverty, diseases, poor nutrition, lack of birth registration, violence, absence of quality services, breakdown of traditional family structures and other factors, hinder parents’ ability to provide the care, affection and security that children need in order to develop their full potential.

Policies designed for children in early childhood must have an integrated focus, which means that it needs to include all the areas of growth: sensory/perceptive, linguistic, physical, mental, emotional and social. This is a focus that seeks to ensure that every child is healthy and well nourished, and lives in a clean and healthy environment.

In order to ensure integrated childhood development, birth registration is a fundamental aspect, a right that opens doors to other rights. If children don’t have a name, a nationality or an identity, THEY DON’T EXIST legally, they are not considered in planning processes and they don’t have access to health and educational services, or to protection and participation.

Strategies for integrated childhood development need to include working with fathers, mothers, community members, government institutions (health, education and birth registry service providers), and non-governmental organisations that provide programs and services and care for children in the under-five age group.

There are a range of initiatives, programmes and direct care services for children under the age of five in the Dominican Republic, which represent a progressive response to the need for care, treatment and education in early childhood, but this is still incomplete. The Early Childhood Care Office (DAPI), reports that it provides care services for 12,275 girls and boys under the age of five.

The lack of statistical information and national research is a limiting factor when making reliable estimates about coverage, level of care, quality, efficacy and relevance of the programmes and initiatives under way at a national level.

It is estimated that of the Dominican population (8.7 million), 1.6 million are children under the age of five who require a series of coordinated services that support their integrated development and guarantee their rights during early childhood.
The UNICEF-Santo Domingo office has been supporting the country in several processes aimed at strengthening and improving state programmes for integrated early childhood development. It provided support for carrying out research into “Parenting practices and Integrated Development of Children under the age of five in the Dominican Republic. Exploring the profile of risk from the perspective of rights and life cycles” (2004).

© UNICEF/DR/2006/Martinez

The results of this research indicate that in order to increase opportunities for boys and girls under the age of five to have adequate integrated child development, they need: to have an appropriate family environment, meaning that children should live with both parents, that these should have an educational level above primary schooling, that they should be in paid employment, and that there should be no abusive practices within the family. Children also need to live in an acceptable environment, in a community with health and education services and the chance to take part in local organisational experiences.

Currently, UNICEF is providing support for the creation of integrated childhood development spaces, areas and centres in eleven Child Friendly Municipalities located in the East, Northeast and border regions, with the aim of making these centres into care models for the rest of the country.

At the same time, support is being given for training for 120 professionals in techniques, skills and tools for working with the under-five age group, with a diploma on “Roles and Responsibilities for Local Actors in Integrated Child Development” in coordination with three of the country’s regional universities: Universidad Central del Este (UCE), Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago (UTESA) and Universidad Tecnológica del Sur (UTESUR). The professionals who are studying for these diplomas are training, in turn, 1,200 people who are involved in the process of preparing the early childhood care spaces in the Child Friendly Municipalities.

New Representative visits the Mother-Child Pastoral Project





"Children First" Campaign

PriceSmart Dominicana, S.A. and UNICEF-Santo Domingo- informed that their “Children First!” campaign had managed to raise a total of US$16,114.00. The funds raised by PriceSmart’s clubs in the country will be used in UNICEF’s Early Childhood Development projects, to improve family and community practices in the care and development of children under the age of five, strengthening the links between health, education and other sectors, always with a view to supporting activities that increase the availability of services for this age group.

More information about the campaign (in Spanish)

Press Release
 (in Spanish)


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