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At the IDB, we believe that together we can go farther. Our partnership network is making positive differences in Latin America and the Caribbean every day, and this blog is our channel for telling that story. Stay tuned for literature on partnership perspectives, stories from the field, changing trends, outlooks for development and the region, information on ways and opportunities to partner, and more. Thanks for stopping by.

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What Does Quality Look Like to a 15 Month Old?

By - May 26 2016

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As both a parent and development professional, I whole-heartedly believe in the importance of early childhood development (ECD). I subscribe to the notion that those earliest years are the most formative, and that investing in our youngest children is investing in our collective future. Yet while I recognize the critical nature of this period, I personally find challenging to identify quality in ECD interventions and services.

For both my 5 year old and my 15-month old, quality ECD remains a priority, but also a bit of a gray area. I read what my friends and colleagues write. I was involved in a startup for a Montessori cooperative in the city. I have reviewed ECD graduate programs looking for teachers. Yet, I still find it very difficult to choose between ECD programs and approaches. In a 15 minute visit to an early childhood care center, what can parents really determine? I know I am lucky to have choices, and I know that quality matters, even if I don’t know exactly what it looks like. So what do I do? I always go with my gut, which is not terribly scientific, and maybe even somewhat appalling considering the importance of this short window in my children’s lives.

But I know that in facing the obstacle of identifying quality ECD, I am not alone. This issue extends beyond my household to ECD efforts everywhere. For instance, while countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have made important progress in recent years as they’ve worked to expand coverage in ECD services, it’s been difficult to ensure the accessibility of quality programs. In particular, challenges have emerged as countries work to  ensure these services reach the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

To help change this trend and expand access to quality ECD in Latin America and the Caribbean, in 2015 the Bank published The Early Years: Child Well-being and the Role of Public Policy. This edition of Development in the Americas, a flagship IDB publication, focuses on the well-being of children from conception to 8 years of age, and makes the case for public intervention in improving child outcomes that are shaped by experiences at home, in daycare centers, and at school. Check out the book to learn about how public policy recommendations can improve those experiences, and explore the Bank’s blog “Primeros pasos” to read about the importance of quality and other questions related to ECD.

Yet while quality ECD is the combined responsibility of governments, educators, and caregivers, we as parents can also stand to learn new tips for improving our children’s quality experiences. This week, the DC premier of “The Beginning of Life,” strives to do just that. An inspirational film-based movement presented by the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, Bernard Van Leer Foundation, Alana Institute, and UNICEF that aims to raise awareness on the importance of the first years of a person’s life, the film invites parents—and society more broadly—to reflect upon how we can optimize this brief and unique time period in children’s lives, and how to understand the impact that it has today and on the future.

During this film premier, which will be held at the Inter-American Development Bank on May 26th at 6:00 pm, governments, teachers, parents, and caregivers must consider: what works and what doesn’t? What innovations are needed to make quality improvements to center-based care and early childhood education? What do scalable parenting programs look like? How can we integrate ECD into other interventions during the early years? The Bank invites partners interested in these questions to join us in co-creating and co-learning about quality ECD, and about how we as agents of change can answer these questions to bring access to quality to children everywhere. Contact us today.

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