When you pay attention to the beginning of the story, you can change the whole story

In recent years, we’ve been vividly reminded of the immense value of community support, particularly amidst profound uncertainty. This sentiment was palpable among First Years, First Priority campaign partners as we convened in Brussels for a three-day meeting in October. There, we exchanged insights, obstacles, and successes in advocating for early childhood development at both the national and European levels. The gathering served as a pivotal moment to renew our collective commitment and strategically navigate forward, considering the potential shifts the June 2024 European elections might bring and the current challenges we face.

Professor Mathias Urban’s insightful presentation during the meeting reinforced the imperative for a comprehensive understanding of the early years in implementing systemic changes and creating competent systems which share knowledge, values, and practices through integrated approaches. Mindset change is a political task that requires a vision for society to be created and material conditions that offer incentives for change. That is why it is so important to keep advocating for a stronger commitment from European and national policymakers so that comprehensive and integrated strategies for early childhood are not just designed and adopted but implemented on the ground providing the opportunity for all children to thrive. Discover further insights in Professor Urban’s blog.

This year, the campaign has focused heavily on young children and caregivers who confront compounded adversities, including those from Roma communities, migrants, refugees, and children with disabilities. With contributions from allied networks such as the European Associations of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, we’ve developed three thematic papers. Debuted at the Brussels meeting, these papers examine the current realities for children and their families within Europe, assess relevant EU and national policies, and highlight exemplary programs and best practices at the country level. Additionally, they present critical recommendations for EU and national policymakers:

With distressing developments dominating the news, most recently from the Middle East, we are gripped by a mix of rage and grief as we witness the profound suffering of children and their families. It is with a heavy heart and an urgent plea that we conclude this editorial: END WAR NOW. We fervently hope that global leaders and the international community will swiftly act to cease the violence and the egregious violation of children’s rights that comes with war.