22 July 2021 – Today, the First Years First Priority Campaign launches a series of Country Profiles and an accompanying Cross Country Analysis highlighting a need for better data and greater investment in public policies for early childhood development (ECD).
Nine Country Profiles share data collected by national campaign coordinators in Bulgaria, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, and Spain. Each Profile provides a snapshot of the current state of ECD within the country and includes sections on six key areas – child poverty, maternal and child health and nutrition, child’s safety and security, early learning including early childhood education and care (ECEC), parenting and family support, and cross-sectoral coordination for ECD. These Profiles used the data to emphasize country priorities related to ECD.
Accompanying the Country Profiles, the Cross-Country Analysis, Snapshot of early childhood development data and policies in nine countries, synthesizes the data, providing essential insights into the findings across countries:
- The scarcity of data on children in their early years – especially children under three – across policy areas, indicates insufficient knowledge of, and attention to, early childhood development
- The limited or non-existent disaggregated data on the lives of young children under six – especially those under three – who are living in poverty and social exclusion hinders efforts to improve public policy and investment for young children facing multiple and intersecting vulnerabilities
- There is a need to guarantee universal access to ECEC across countries, especially for the youngest and most vulnerable children
- There is a need for an integrated multi-sectoral approach to early childhood policies and funding, with leadership and coordination that addresses children’s and families’ needs in a comprehensive way
There is widespread recognition that children’s early years are fundamental for their healthy development and wellbeing. Improved policy measures and public investment in early childhood are necessary to ensure every child has the best start in life. The Analysis highlights priorities that can help policymakers identify where to act. Initiatives such as the European Child Guarantee, the Council Recommendation on High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care and the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child should be harnessed by governments to support early childhood development as a national priority.