|A father and his two children sit outside the emergency room at the Rumah Sakit Gunung Sitoli Hospital in Gunung Sitoli, capital of Nias Island in Indonesia.|
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Families, communities and caregivers play a vital role in the growth and development of young children. A priority of UNICEF’s efforts worldwide is to help empower them through participatory methods to identify issues of concern, define viable solutions and develop their capacity to act on their decisions.
The active involvement of communities is crucial to any programme of work that advocates for the rights of children and women, and to create the social change necessary to foster and support improvements. Our experience in designing and implementing development programmes has shown that meaningful stakeholder participation leads to lasting support for Early Childhood Development interventions. It is this long-term community involvement that results in social change that advances children’s rights. Improving the rights and ensuring the healthy growth and development of the young child through changes in legislation, social norms and practices does not happen overnight. A holistic approach is essential in addressing this deep-rooted social challenge. That is why UNICEF’s efforts combine advocacy, partnerships with community groups and direct interventions to help families and communities adopt health and social practices that help fulfill children’s rights in the early years.
UNICEF works with its partners in empowering families and communities to help every child get the best start in life. These efforts promote growth and development in the critical early childhood years by influencing key household and community practices and addressing the deep-rooted and complex social and economic factors that influence child-rearing practices. UNICEF designs and conducts workshops and training sessions for its own staff, for staff from non-governmental organizations and other partners, and for government counterparts to improve the quality of community-based communication activities. We emphasize building skills in communication planning, group facilitation, participatory methods, monitoring and data management.
All the participatory assessment methods UNICEF has developed empower local communities to take ownership of and promote the social, health and care giving changes necessary to improve young children’s lives.