a Whole of Society Approach

Together, we can see a bright future for our children

A brighter future for South Africa is possible. By investing in the care for children in their First Thousand Days (from conception to two years of age), brain foundations can be laid that have lifelong positive impact.  

But whose job is it to invest in children and lay these foundations? What is needed is a Whole of Society Approach. Different role players are necessary to create communities that embrace young lives and invest in children. From health providers to government, educational bodies to religious groups, a comprehensive and integrated response is needed. It is up to us all – clinics, daycares, churches, workplaces and families. Together we can ensure that all children are set up well to succeed. 

Supporting families with children in their First Thousand Days of life has an exponential return for society at large. In fact, an investment of $1 in this stage yields $13 later on.* 

*World Health Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Bank Group. Nurturing care for early childhood development: a framework for helping children survive and thrive to transform health and human potential. Geneva: World Health Organisation; 2018. 

Investing in the early years has a profoundly positive impact on the child and the nation as a whole. This fits into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – especially in Goal 3 – ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.  

Sikunye is working to mobilise local church communities to use their unique strengths and assets to be the modern-day village around families. Churches are well positioned to do what other agencies are not suited to consistently do. To explore more, read here.

The priority of the First Thousand Days

At a national level, the ‘National Development Plan 2030: Our future-make it work’ (NDP), the government has prioritised ECD and is “calling for the writing of a new story that places early childhood development at its centre”. Part of this included Cabinet approving the new National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy (NIECDP). The NIECDP introduces guidelines for the implementation of a comprehensive ECD package of services for all South African children. You can read it here.

At a provincial level, the Western Cape Government has its First 1000 Days directorate, elevating the need for sound messaging and services for children in this important stage. Read more here.

UNICEF has also highlighted the importance of specialised care for children in this stage. Read their report for South Africa here.

Harvard University has established the Center on the Developing Child, creating a range of resources and videos that connect the science and research with on-the-ground practice.  Explore more here.