The State of the World's Children 2001 - Early Childhood

Published on


What happens during the very earliest years of a child’s life, from birth to age 3, influences how the rest of childhood and adolescence unfolds. Yet, this critical time is usually neglected in the policies, programmes and budgets of countries. Drawing on reports from the world over, The State of the World’s Children 2001 details the daily lives of parents and other caregivers who are striving - in the face of war, poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic - to protect the rights and meet the needs of these young children.
  • Choices to be made: The opening section makes the case for investing in the earliest years of childhood, before the age of three, when brain development is most malleable and rights are most vulnerable. It sets out the options governments have about where and when to make investments to ensure that children under three have their rights protected and their needs met. And it introduces the importance of early childhood development programmes, not only for children, their parents and caregivers, but for the progress of nations as a whole.
  • A necessary choice: Attention to the youngest children is most needed where it is most difficult to guarantee: in countries where the seemingly intractable grip of poverty, violence and devastating epidemics seriously challenge parents’ hopes and dreams for their children. This section argues that early childcare can act as an effective antidote to cycles of violence, conflict, poverty and HIV/AIDS.
  • The only responsible choice: Parents struggle, often against great odds, to do right by their children. In industrialized and developing countries alike they find advice and aid from informal support networks and community agencies with innovative childcare programmes. The final section describes these experiments and experiences and makes the case why, in the long run, investment in ECD pays off.


Carol Bellamy

Available languages