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Every child has the right to a bright, safe and healthy childhood and future. We have a collective responsibility as a global community to act to ensure that every child can thrive wherever they are born.
By investing in the development and wellbeing of young children caught up in crisis, we can make life better today and tomorrow - and for the generations to come.
It is vital to take action early. What happens in the first few months and years of a child’s life influences their physical and mental health, wellbeing, learning and behaviour over their entire lifetime. 90% of brain growth takes place in the first three years of life; a period when the brain is highly sensitive to environmental factors.
Experiencing nurturing, stable relationships with caregivers and other adults during this time has an enormous impact on the development of the architecture of the brain and children’s overall health and wellbeing.
Evidence shows that prolonged adversity in the early years alters brain development. For children born into conflict or protracted displacement, the long-term impact can devastate and exacerbate inequalities that last lifetimes and span generations.
In these circumstances, caregivers are often coping with loss, violence, forced displacement, depression and adversity. They are overloaded, under pressure and missing support networks – immense obstacles that make it incredibly difficult for them to meet the development needs of the young children they care for. In these circumstances there is often an absence of consistent, responsive and playful relationships and few opportunities for playful learning.
Children are living in contexts affected by conflict or disaster
Children have been displaced by conflict
Pregnant women are living in crisis contexts
The good news is there are solutions. We can accomplish a great deal within existing ways of working. For example:
Taking action to support the development and wellbeing of young children in crisis is critical to addressing today’s challenges and investing in the future. And as an area of focus that spans different existing sectors, investing in early childhood development has a powerful amplification effect.
It paves a smooth road so that all of those working on children’s education, health, safety and other issues can together reach their shared goal of a bright, safe and healthy childhood – and future – for all children.