Early Childhood Development

The first five years of a child’s life are a critically important period of cognitive and emotional development. Under the right conditions, that period sets a foundation for children to grow into healthy, educated, and productive adults. Yet an estimated 250 million children in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their potential because extreme poverty restricts their access during early childhood to adequate nutrition, quality healthcare, and other aspects of nurturing care.1

Effective interventions to support early childhood development begin as early as possible (and as early as pregnancy), they take a multi-sectoral approach, and they target not only children but also caregivers.2,3,4 These interventions include nutritional supplementation, health actions such as immunization and vaccination, and training for caregivers on behaviors that promote child health and practices that foster psychosocial development.5

Early childhood is the period of life when poverty alleviation investments are most efficient and most cost-effective.6 Successful interventions during this period can result in a wide range of improved life outcomes, including higher test scores, higher educational attainment, and higher wages.6,3 In the long term, moreover, investing in children and their caregivers at this stage of life can help to end intergenerational poverty.7


Related Portfolio Organizations

J-PAL South Asia
J-PAL South Asia
Rigorous evaluation and trusted advice pave the way for effective policy change
Evidence and efficiency help drive an early childhood learning program
Back to king essentials all priority investment areas