WHY SHOULD WE ALL CARE ABOUT CHILD DEVELOPMENT?
The human brain develops more during the first five years than any other time in life. This makes the early years a unique window to invest in human capital. Policy interventions that support early childhood development can also reduce inequality, as they give everyone a chance to reach their potential. At the Inter-American Development Bank, we work to promote and implement effective policies and programs that strengthen early childhood development (ECD) by providing high quality care and education to children ages 0 to 5 and their families. There is a direct and positive correlation between the quality of ECD services and child development, so investing in high quality programs at this stage can yield economic benefits that far outweigh the costs. The return on investments in children is especially high when these investments center on the most vulnerable households. For this reason, child development policies help narrow opportunity gaps in Latin America and the Caribbean.
BUT WHAT IS EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT?
ECD is the stage of life from gestation to age five in which the foundation is laid for cognitive, linguistic, motor, and social-emotional development. These years are critical for setting the child up for good health and learning throughout the life course. The impact of the experiences and interventions in the early years is powerful and lasting.