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Our Vision

THEORY OF CHANGE

The effects of conflict permeate through relationships between children, families, communities and governments. Our theory of change outlines how commitment to and investment in Early Childhood Development (ECD) services by governments and other key stakeholders can lead to improved short-term outcomes for children, caregivers and families and how these can contribute to sustainable development, more peaceful societies and social cohesion.

 

Social ecological theories of child development can inform peacebuilding efforts in conflict-affected countries by acknowledging that although children are individually impacted by the conflict, they are also active agents amidst the ecosystems. Children can have a multidirectional role in the hierarchical social structure by preventing violence, resolving conflict and contributing to more peaceful societies. The importance of providing nurturing care to children and reducing adverse experiences which lead to toxic stress in a child’s life have recently been considered but its measurable impact is not yet evident at the familial and community level. The contribution of ECD services to long term sustainable communities is a growing priority for policy makers and it is crucial that the relationship between child, parent, family, community and further roles is fully demonstrated. We outline this further in our measurement framework.

RESOURCES

Global evidence suggests that many children do not have nurturing experiences. It has been estimated that approximately 250 million children (43%) younger than 5 years in low-income and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential. Multi-sectoral ECD services which address health, nutrition, education, and protection have been shown to reduce inequalities and improve children’s development in the early years.

 

It is important that children are raised in an environment where nurturing care is provided allowing them to reach their potential. Risk factors which inhibit child development include premature birth, poverty, malnutrition, under stimulation and poor health all of which are addressed in high quality ECD services. ECD services have sought to address the impact of these adverse experiences by providing a wide range of programs and interventions that seek to support a child’s development during this phase. They typically include: prenatal health provision; home-based programmes for parents and caregivers; health, social care and education services provided through community-based centres or schools; and the provision of child care centres, nurseries and preschools. ECD services can, therefore, play a key role in contributing to sustainable development and thus reducing societal risk and sustaining peace through improved and equitable education and employment opportunities.

MEASUREMENT FRAMEWORK

By being at the heart of families and local communities, ECD services can be a major vehicle for social cohesion when they include essential elements outlined in our measurement framework.

High-quality ECD services are uniquely placed to engage with families and communities affected by conflict delivering much more than improved short and long-term outcomes for individual children. These services need to explicitly address peacebuilding and social cohesion in their policies and programs based upon a rigorous and comprehensive conflict analysis that sets out a systematic study of the nature, causes, actors and drivers of conflict in their context. In order to enhance relationships between individuals, groups and government institutions ECD services must be provided on an inclusive and equitable basis to all. Through improved short-term developmental outcomes leading to long term benefits for children, their families and communities, we suggest these benefits will also lead to more peaceful and sustainable societies.