National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy

Approved by Cabinet on 9 December 2015

UNICEF South Africa/2015


The Government of the Republic of South Africa has prioritised early childhood development within its National Development Plan 2030: Our Future-make it work. Overwhelming scientific evidence attests to the tremendous importance of the early years for human development and to the need for investing resources to support and promote optimal child development from conception. Lack of opportunities and interventions, or poor quality interventions, during early childhood can significantly disadvantage young children and diminish their potential for success. This National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy is aimed at transforming early childhood development service delivery in South Africa, in particular to address critical gaps and to ensure the provision of a comprehensive, universally available and equitable early childhood development services.

The Policy covers the period from conception until the year before children enter formal school or, in the case of children with developmental difficulties and disabilities, until the year before the calendar year they turn seven (7), which marks the age of compulsory schooling or special education.

The Policy development process included four expert consultations on scale, media and communication, developmental delays/disabilities and nutrition, as well as consultations in all nine provinces in November and December 2013, and a national consultation on the draft Policy in March 2014. This resulted in a Draft Policy Document that served as a discussion document towards a National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy, which was gazetted for public comments from 13 March to 24 April 2015 for the public and relevant stakeholders. All feedback and comments received during these consultative processes and public comments were considered.

The purpose of this Policy is:

  1. To provide an overarching multi-sectoral enabling framework of early childhood development services, inclusive of national, provincial and local spheres of government;
  2. To define a national comprehensive early childhood development programme and support, with identified essential components;
  3. To identify the relevant role players and their roles and responsibilities for the provision of the various components of early childhood development services; and
  4. To establish national integrated early childhood development leadership and coordinating structure.
Republic of South Africa
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