Headquartered in the Netherlands, the Bernard van Leer Foundation has a long history of working in the country on early learning methodologies, access to childcare and preventing child abuse. Since the adoption of our new strategy in 2015, our focus has shifted from reactive to more preventive care and interventions for young children (pregnancy until the age of three). We believe it is in this crucial period that interventions and programmes can have the largest impact on the health and happiness of children. To achieve our goals, we work together with civil society organisations, governments on the local and national level, and the private sector.

Our Parents+ programme supports several initiatives that have proved their effectiveness in reaching and coaching parents, and are ready to be taken to scale. In Rotterdam, for example, we support the scaling strategy of the Mothers of Rotterdam programme, which was initiated by the municipality of Rotterdam, Bureau Frontlijn and the Verre Bergen Foundation. It involves professionals from the medical and social domain working together to strengthen the financial and social independence of 400 multi-problem mothers and the healthy development of their newborns. In Amsterdam, we work closely together with the municipality to scale and further develop the “first 1000 days” strategy of the Amsterdam Healthy Weight Initiative, and we are exploring scaling the approach outside of Amsterdam. In 2017, we aim to start a new initiative focused on improving the quality of parenting support for refugees with young children.

Our Urban95 programme looks at support for young families from an urban planning point of view, focusing not only on safety but also – for example – on how city design can contribute to the development of informal social networks. Together with the Eindhoven University of Technology, we have designed a course for graduates on urban planning and early childhood development.

Finally, within our Building Blocks programme, we share the story of why investing in children’s first 1000 days is so important for the Netherlands. The ultimate objective is to secure more national investment and more leadership from municipalities in light of their increased responsibilities, including prevention. One example is the work we do with WomenINC, the Rutgers foundation and the Chair on Fatherhood at the University of Amsterdam on the topic of expanding paid leave for fathers and increasing their involvement in their children’s lives.