Every child has the right to a standard of living that meets their physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

- Article 27, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989

Early childhood is the most critical time for growth and development and sets the foundation for the rest of a child’s life. When loved, nourished and cared for in safe and stimulating environments, children develop the skills they need to embrace the opportunity and bounce back from adversity.

Nearly 43% of children under 5 in low- and middle-income countries are not getting the nutrition, protection and stimulation they need. This diminishes both the child’s potential and sustainable growth for society at large.

The good news is that early childhood presents an incomparable window of opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life. The right interventions at the right time can counter disadvantage and boost a child’s development. 

Across the world, UNICEF’s early childhood development programs combine early learning, health & nutrition, water, health and sanitation, protection and support parents, caregivers and communities – to help vulnerable children get a fair start in life. We promote the inclusion of marginalised groups, in particular children from ethnic minorities, children with a disability and focus on the impact of gender, so that every child is reached.

UNICEF Australia currently supports the following early childhood development programs:

  • Holistic Early Childhood Development in Papua New Guinea
  • Improving Early Learning and Child Development in Lao PDR (with contributions from the Australian Government)
  • Supporting Integrated Approaches to Early Childhood Development in Cambodia (with contributions from the Australian Government)