By Steve Davis and Peter Laugharn, July 29, 2019 The Seattle Times
The World Health Organization just unveiled an initiative that could improve millions of children’s lives and boost the global economy by trillions of dollars.
The initiative, known as the Nurturing Care Framework for Early Childhood Development, [PDF attached] seeks to change how we raise infants and toddlers. Children’s experiences during their first three years of life heavily influence their well-being as adults, according to a growing body of research.
Today, millions of children lack the nutritional, educational and emotional support they need to develop into healthy, productive members of society. The Framework could help governments, nonprofits and families change this unfortunate status quo.
Children’s brains may not develop fully when they don’t receive “nurturing care,” which includes good health, adequate nutrition, safety and security, responsive caregiving, and opportunities for stimulation and learning. The period from birth to age three is a critical window of opportunity, since 80 percent of the brain forms during these years.
About 250 million young children in low- and middle-income countries lack nurturing care. Tens of millions of children in the United States and Europe face similar challenges. These children face difficulties in school. Poor educational outcomes reduce their future earnings and impact the health and well-being of entire families and societies.