Nurturing care "cost-effective, relatively easy to provide" and delivers "incredible financial return to communities"

The Nurturing Care Framework has the potential to improve the lives of millions of children worldwide and to boost the global economy by trillions of dollars, say two U.S. leaders in the field, writing for the Seattle Times. They express strong support for the approach: “These interventions are cost-effective, relatively easy to provide, and can even be added to existing programs. And they deliver an incredible financial return to communities.” The authors cite the work of Nobel laureate economist James Heckman, who has shown that investments in children aged 0-3 produce the highest financial returns (more). Heckman also showed that such returns diminish when governments and nonprofits delay support until children are older. You’ll find the Seattle Times article here.


Nurturing Care Framework

Launch of the Nurturing Care Framework

The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the World Bank Group, in collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health and​ the Early Childhood Development Action Network, launched the​ Nurturing Care Framework for Early Childhood Development during the 71st World Health Assembly, on 23 May 2018.

Read about and watch the launch event

Read the Nurturing Care Framework and Executive Summary


A woman draws the image of her hand on a window.

Nurturing care for early childhood development

The Nurturing Care Framework was created in response to strong evidence (see the Lancet Series ) and growing recognition that the early years are critical for human development.

Commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy provide the impetus for countries and stakeholders to act. More than 1000 individuals and organizations from 111 countries informed the drafting process of this framework.

The Framework was developed by WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, in collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, the Early Childhood Development Action Network and many other partners.

Investing in early childhood development is one of the best investments a country can make to boost economic growth, promote peaceful and sustainable societies, and eliminate extreme poverty and inequality. Equally important, investing in early childhood development is necessary to uphold the right of every child to survive and thrive.

The Framework provides an evidence-based road map for action and outlines how policies and services can support parents, families, other caregivers and communities in providing nurturing care for young children. It calls for attention to be paid to communities where children are most at risk of being left behind.

The five components of nurturing care

To reach their full potential, children need the five inter-related and indivisible components of nurturing care:
good health, adequate nutrition, safety and security, responsive caregiving and opportunities for learning.

In the first years of life, parents, intimate family members and caregivers are the closest to the young child and thus the best providers of Nurturing Care. This is why secure family environments are important for young children.  In order to provide caregivers with time and resources to provide nurturing care, policies, services and community supports need to be in place.

Open each petal below to read more.

“If we change the beginning of the story,
we change the whole story”

The Beginning of Life