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Marking a New Era for Young Children and Families Around the World: Early Childhood Matters 2016

Published July 25, 2016 – by Joan Lombardi

September is the first anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals. For the early childhood field, it has been a year filled with activity: new champions for young children have emerged, evidence documenting the importance of the early years grew, and efforts to find new solutions and scale services expanded around the world. Yet at the same time, violence rages in communities across the globe, families are torn apart by war, poverty and malnutrition continue to take their toll on young children, and migration and natural disasters add unimaginable stress to families. While the field advances, the journey ahead remains very long.

The Sustainable Development Goals provide some hope that we can change the conditions that impact the developing child. They jump start a new era in efforts to end poverty, eliminate violence, and promote better health and education for all. To mark this important opportunity, the Bernard van Leer Foundation has renewed its efforts to raise the visibility of the issues, document emerging solutions and highlight efforts to scale early childhood programmes around the world. Through a reformatted journal, now published annually, the Foundation hopes to capture the spirit and vitality of those efforts taking place to address the needs of young children and families.

The first issue of this reformatted journal, Early Childhood Matters 2016 was launched in Toronto in June. Reflecting the importance of a multi-sectorial approach to early childhood development, it features articles by leading authorities from UNICEF, WHO, the Global Partnership for Education and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. The journal also includes important examples from leaders in the field working to provide creative solutions, from Uruguay to Liberia to India and beyond.

As solutions continue to emerge, the real challenge remains in learning how best to scale programmes and policies. This issue highlights some of these challenges, from financing to capacity building. Future issues will continue to capture promising efforts to scale services with a particular focus on supporting parents as well as those who work directly with children and families every day.

Photo: © iStock.com / Silvia Boratti

It is our hope that those working in communities around the world will share these important voices with others to build support for addressing the comprehensive needs of young children and families. We hope you share the evidence with others – from policymakers to the private sector; share the solutions with those struggling to make things work in their own countries; and share the lessons learned about scaling with all those who need to believe that it is possible to improve and expand services.

And, above all, we hope you share the belief that each and every person can make a difference in this journey to assure that all young children get off to the very best start possible.


Joan LombardiBlog author: Joan Lombardi, Senior Advisor, Bernard van Leer Foundation and guest-editor of Early Childhood Matters 2016