The critical window of development of the First Thousand Days (FTD) is in the spotlight. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, from conception to two years, that has disproportional influence in the lifetime flourishing of an individual.
This period is both a great opportunity and a great risk. Over 50% of children in South Africa (picture a million new young lives each year) are born into adverse conditions and will not receive enough of what they need to maximise this period and realise their God-given potential both now and into the future of their lives. This is a great injustice.
For children to thrive in the FTD, they need essential building blocks provided to them in the context of at least one loving, stable and responsive relationship with an adult. The people who provide this are family members and caregivers. These quality relationships are foundational for all other care the child needs.
For families to care in this way, they need communities around them, strengthening, supporting and encouraging them. Parenting is difficult and all parents need support, encouragement and affirmation.
The church is a gathered community (like a modern village) that can connect with and support families. It can intentionally strengthen parents and build their capacity to better provide responsive, nurturing care in this critical phase.
We are convinced that every local church is uniquely positioned and equipped to make a significant difference to families and the care they provide to their young ones.
Sikunye’s big idea is that churches across South Africa connect with and support families, so that families are providing responsive care, so that children receive what they need to thrive.
Supporting families of 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 Organization, 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.