The Child Centered Approach

UNICEF considers the holistic development of a child — from birth through early and adolescent years into adulthood.

School children  happy to see UNICEF staff

Guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), UNICEF Sri Lanka is at the centre of an ambitious development agenda to build the country’s cognitive capital. Our efforts seek to empower, educate and enable Sri Lanka’s children to become the agents of change who drive national development into the future.

Our holistic, child-centered approach is designed to positively impact every stage of a child’s growth and development, from birth to adulthood.

Early childhood

Covering the first 5 years of life, these interventions combine nutrition, protection, stimulation and early education. We also support parents, caregivers and communities in helping vulnerable children get the best possible foundation for further growth and development. 

2022 goals:

  1. Health and nutrition service delivery systems provide quality healthcare, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and nutrition interventions in early childhood
  2. A coordinated child protection system, including alternative care systems, prevent and respond to violence, abuse and neglect in early childhood within home, care and preschool environments
  3. National and local government authorities enable comprehensive and developmentally appropriate early learning and school readiness


Middle childhood

Focused on children aged 5-9 year, these interventions emphasize the delivery of proper health and nutrition services, quality education and the dissemination of critical skills that protect children from violence, exploitation and abuse. We also emphasize creating and maintaining safe, child-friendly environments open to community feedback, to ensure the   realization of child rights and appropriate redressal.  

2022 goals:

  1. Health and nutrition service delivery systems provide quality healthcare, WASH and nutrition interventions in middle childhood 
  2. Children and families have the capacity to prevent violence and abuse in home and school settings during this period of growth
  3. The education system provides holistic and child-centred learning and development in primary schools.



These interventions address the rights and needs of children aged 10-18 years and include a mix of policies, services, support and opportunities for all adolescents to remain engaged in their own development as well as the improvement of their own communities. Specifically, they place a strong focus on relevant and reliable information for adolescents to make informed decisions, improve their access to high-quality health, education and protection services. Also, to ensure they are empowered to participate constructively in community life and contribute to the creation of a cohesive and peaceful society.

2022 goals:

  1. Health and nutrition service delivery systems provide quality healthcare, nutrition and WASH interventions for adolescents 
  2. The justice-for-children mechanisms offer timely, quality and comprehensive justice services for adolescents
  3. The education system is strengthened to promote peace, reconciliation and resilience among adolescent girls and boys.


Across each of these stages of childhood, UNICEF works with multiple stakeholders to strengthen systems, enhance coordination and improve the quality and delivery of essential social services.