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Health Systems for
Early Child Development

In 2021 UNICEF ECARO, WHO Regional Office for Europe, and the International Step by Step Association (ISSA) joined efforts to launch Health Systems for Early Child Development initiative to accelerate efforts in Europe and Central Asia to build more “developmentally oriented” and family-centered health systems and services empowering caregivers to provide children with nurturing care – a safe and enabling environment that ensures good health and nutrition, protects them from threats, offers opportunities for early learning and encourages responsive and emotionally supportive interactions with parents and caregivers. The Initiative will curate and share contemporary, evidence-based guidance, resources, and examples of recommended practices; create and nurture a learning community, and advocate for the change of policies and practices.

The overarching goal is to enhance the wellbeing of children and families in the Europe and Central Asia region, by strengthening early childhood development-oriented health systems, policy, and practices, endorsed by a movement engaging international organisations, policy makers, and professionals at the national and regional levels.

The initiative is implemented with the European Commission’s support under the framework of the Regional project to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of children and families in the Western Balkans and Turkey.