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Early Childhood Development

ECD is the period of life comprised from gestation until 5 years of age, during which the basis for children’s cognitive, language, motor and socio-emotional development is laid. These are crucial years to ensure adequate learning and health conditions.
Early years are a unique window of opportunity for investing in human capital. Evidence shows that early life experiences and interventions have a lasting effect throughout life. Therefore, policy interventions to foster development in this period favor equality and create economic benefits far larger than their costs.

Early Childhood Development in LAC

The region has made major strides. These include:

  • Expanding childcare service coverage both in centers and programs working with families.
  • Prioritizing childhood development on the political agenda; this involves rising public spending for this segment of the population, strengthening the institutions in charge, and developing regulatory and legal frameworks.
  • Strengthening coordination and harmonization among different government sectors and levels, taking an integral perspective of the services.
  • Designing initiatives to generate information and evidence for the decision-making process.
Child development work presents an opportunity to promote coordination between sectors such as health, education, and social protection.

But there are still some major challenges to tackle. Among them:

  • The persistence of equity gaps in areas such as service access, development levels, and household environment quality, affecting mostly children from vulnerable populations.
  • There still is a lot of room for improvement in terms of ensuring ECD services’ sustained quality and expansion.
  • Efforts to improve ECD workforce are insufficient. In particular, more progress is needed in the areas of staff selection, training, coaching, motivation, and professional growth of people working in this field.
  • Information on children development evolution needs to be improved, with regular population indicators that are comparable between countries and standardized data on suppliers and service quality, among other issues.
  • More also needs to be done to boost sectoral integration between areas such as health, education and ECD social protection.

In order to learn about and understand both progress and challenges ahead it is necessary to foster learning, knowledge, dialog, and coordination among the different actors involved in ECD. The region has made major headway in terms of producing evaluations and careful studies that have helped design and improve public policies around the world. This platform seeks to boost access to these resources to help us learn from our own experiences and which should translate into knowledge so children can develop to their full potential from their very early years.