New Global Survey shares the Status of Inclusive Programs

A Global Survey on the Status of Inclusive ECD/ ECI Programs

Inclusive early childhood development (IECD) and early childhood intervention (ECI) programs have a pivotal role to play in ensuring the rightful support to all children and their families throughout the critical early childhood period.

Recently the RISE Institute, in partnership with UNICEF and the Early Childhood Development Task Force released the results from a global survey of inclusive early childhood development and early childhood intervention programs. This global survey, which presents information on 426 programs in 121 countries in all world regions, aims to fill in existing gaps in our knowledge about the status of IECD and ECI programs internationally. Specifically, the main objectives of the survey were to:

  • Map current implementation of IECD and ECI programs and related activities;
  • Describe key IECD and ECI program features;
  • Identify gaps and challenges in providing accessible IECD and ECI services;
  • Document factors associated with successful implementation and scale-up; and
  • Generate recommendations to inform future policy and program development and national planning and implementation efforts.

The study reports program types and participants, legal frameworks that support the development and implementation of programs, program objectives, multi-sectoral cooperation, service provision, financial support and parent involvement across regions. The study also revealed various barriers that inhibit program development, growth, demand and quality. Major barriers include among others limited financial investment and lack of support to the workforce. Those barriers have also been found to inhibit program implementation in the recently released Early Childhood Workforce Initiative country brief from Georgia.

Both results from the global survey and from the Country Brief from Georgia highlight the important role of enabling policy environments, competent workforce and collaboration among agencies and sectors for developing, improving and expanding program provision and ultimately for enhancing program success.

Based on the robust findings and conclusions of the study, the authors formulate 20 recommendations that can support the development, scale up and effectiveness of the IECD and ECI services globally. Further, they issue a Call for a global agenda for the improvement and expansion of IECD and ECI programs. The Call presents the following strategies and initiatives:

  • Expand and improve national leadership for IECD and ECI programs
  • Conduct expanded advocacy and communications for development campaigns
  • Assess the development of IECD and ECI programs in each nation
  • Strengthen multisectoral involvement
  • Place top priority on developing policies, strategic plans, and laws for IECD and ECI systems
  • Establish universal developmental screening and referrals
  • Improve the quality of IECD and ECI programs and encourage parent involvement
  • Increase investment in IECD and ECI programs
  • Provide high quality and fully accountable IECD and ECI services in each nation
  • Expand networking and coordination for IECD and ECI services

Both the authors of the global study and the Compendium of the 6 Country Briefs that were recently published from the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative indicate that barriers and enabling factors are cross-cutting and quite consistent across countries. The Country Brief from Georgia “Training Early Childhood Intervention Workers to Close a Workforce Gap” could offer invaluable insights to other countries into how we can empower the ECI workforce, how we can develop and sustain effective collaboration among agencies and into mechanisms that can support building the capacity of the services and the workforce.