Investing in Young Children Globally: The Cost of Inaction

"Child development is one of the world’s grandest challenges. It really is in its scope, in its scale and in its impact… Inattention to child development in policies and programs is tearing apart the socioeconomic fabric of countries. Not paying attention to early child development can lock countries into poverty, while focusing on it represents a potential exit strategy from poverty…” Dr. Peter Singer, CEO, Grand Challenges Canada, keynote address.

With support from the CDC, the National Institutes of Health and PEPFAR, the Institute of Medicine’s Board on Children, Youth, and Families launched the first workshop on April 17–18, 2014, as part of a 3-year Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally. The interactive public workshop featured presentations and discussions highlighting opportunities for scientifically grounded investments in young children globally. Investments are broadly conceived to include allocations of economic, natural, social and other resources that sustain or promote human development and well-being. Speakers explored the question of whether the science converges on a set of universal elements that support optimal development from preconception to age 8. They also addressed elements that vary by geographic context and issues impacting diverse populations, including children with disabilities. A set of research presentations focused on interrelated themes of promoting optimal development through investing in young children and the potential economic consequences of inaction.

The next Forum meeting will take place August 26–27, 2014, in New Delhi and will focus on financing investments in young children. The meeting is open to interested participants and will be webcast.