Early Childhood Development and Livelihoods

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Helpdesk Query:

What evidence is there regarding the positive impact that ECCD has beyond the core benefits for children, particularly on the ability of women to engage in livelihoods activities and or work. Are there examples where ECCD is being implemented where this issue has been looked at, or where livelihoods impact has been a specific objective of ECCD programmes?


There is some evidence that Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) has increased women’s workforce participation.  The majority of the literature on ECCD comes from an education viewpoint and is child-focussed. It notes that parent or family carers are more able to work or study due to childcare programmes. The point generally seems presumed and further explicit evidence or explanation is not given.

Another body of research comes from more of an economic viewpoint and focuses on women’s increased labour force participation but not always quality of childcare. This research often uses the term childcare rather than ECCD which may be interpreted differently and should be taken into account for the purpose of this query. Some childcare programmes did note development aspects but this was not always explicit.

There seems to be an absence of research or programme examples focusing on child development and livelihood improvements together. Investing in young children is found to be economically efficient. It is more cost-effective to implement preventive measures and support for children early on than to compensate for disadvantages as they grow older.  Other benefits to ECCD beyond core benefits for children include greater gender equality, greater encouragement of women to participate in higher education or training to prepare for workforce participation and improved maternal depression rates.


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