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Investing Now In Early Child Development Will Have Long-Term Benefits

Gordon Alexander, director of the office of research at UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre, writes in this post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog” that a series published in Friday’s Lancet on early child development (ECD) shows “that the payoff from concerted, integrated action around ECD would be enormous.” Additional focus on and investment in ECD, particularly in the areas of nutrition, maternal and family health, and poverty alleviation, would help children reach their full potential in adulthood, which means “investing in ECD now will quite literally yield billions of dollars in later years,” he says.

“Integrating early child development priorities into health programs can have a dramatic impact too, the research finds,” Alexander writes, concluding, “For this critical process to happen, changes are required in the way governments and development agencies go about business. Vertical programming — of health, education, nutrition — has to give way to combining interventions for children. The answer may well be to look at the lifecycle of a child, and ECD appears to be the perfect vehicle to make the change” (9/23).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.