Completing my degree in Therapeutic Childcare last really drove home the importance of a child early years. The impact early negative experiences could have on the whole of a child’s life. The need for awareness and support in this area is high and so much more needs to be done to protect our children. This is why I am truly happy today with share with you the UNICEF campaign #Earlymomentsmatter.
During the earliest years of life, brain cells can make up to 1,000 new connections every second – a once-in-a-lifetime speed. These connections contribute to children’s brain function and learning, and lay the foundation for their future health and happiness. A lack of nurturing care – which includes adequate nutrition, stimulation, love and protection from stress and violence – can impede the development of these critical connections.
According to a recent series in The Lancet nearly 250 million children in developing countries are at risk of poor development due to stunting and poverty. But the need for greater investment and action in early childhood development is not limited to low-income countries. Disadvantaged children living in middle- and high-income countries are also at risk. UNICEF estimates that millions more children are spending their formative years growing up in unstimulating and unsafe environments, putting their cognitive, social and emotional development at risk.
Investment in early childhood is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing the ability of all children to reach their full potential – increasing their ability to learn in school and, later, their earning capacity as adults. This is especially significant for children growing up in poverty. One 20-year study showed that disadvantaged children who participated in quality early childhood development programmes as toddlers went on to earn up to 25 per cent more as adults than their peers who did not receive the same support.
Early childhood development interventions, such as the Care for Child Development package that includes training community health workers to teach families about the importance of playing with their children in a way that stimulates healthy development can cost as little as 50 cents (USD) per capita per year, when combined with existing health services.
UNICEF is calling for governments to increase investments in early childhood, expand health and social services offered to young children, and strengthen support services for parents and caregivers.
My job as foster carer has brought me into contact with children whose early lives have left them for the want of a better word damaged. There whole personalities have been formed in environments of fear of neglect. They brains were hard wired in worlds that weren’t safe. It’s heartbreaking to watch a child who doesn’t know peace.
Here is the UK today is Valentine’s Day, let’s share the love and share this campaign. Let’s celebrate the love of our children and the worlds children and let’s support UNICEF in their campaign to protect our children.
1000 connections in the first 1000 days let’s make them positive ones.