World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Bank Group. Nurturing care for early childhood development: a framework for helping children survive and thrive to transform health and human potential. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030)2 is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals.3Its vision is a world in which every woman, child and adolescent realizes their rights to health and well-being – both physical and mental. That is a world in which they have social and economic opportunities, and are able to participate fully in shaping prosperous and sustainable societies. And an essential part of this vision is that young children’s human rights guarantee them the conditions they need to survive and thrive.
We know why this is important. The period from pregnancy to age 3 is when children are most susceptible to environmental influences.5 That period lays the foundation for health, well-being, learning and productivity throughout a person’s whole life, and has an impact on the health and well-being of the next generation.
We know what threatens early childhood development. The biggest threats are extreme poverty, insecurity, gender inequities, violence, environmental toxins, and poor mental health.6 All of these things affect caregivers – by which we mean parents, families and other people who look after children. The threats reduce these caregivers’ capacity to protect, support and promote young children’s development.
We know what children need to develop to their full potential. They need nurturing care – the conditions that promote health, nutrition, security, safety, responsive caregiving and opportunities for early learning. Nurturing care is about children, their families and other caregivers, and the places where they interact.
We know what strengthens families and caregivers’ capacity to support young children’s development. An enabling environment is needed: policies, programmes and services that give families, parents and caregivers the knowledge and resources to provide nurturing care for young children. Community participation is a key part of this environment, which also needs to consider the diversity of children and families.
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