Early Childhood Program
The Early Childhood Program promotes the well-being of young children through a rights-based approach and a commitment to social justice, emphasizing parent and community engagement, professional development, and government accountability.
The program grew from the successful Step by Step initiative, which introduced a child-centered and community approach into previously rigid, teacher-centered education systems in Central and Eastern Europe during the 1990s. Step by Step continues to shape early childhood teaching in 25 countries, supported by NGO members of the International Step by Step Association.
The Early Childhood Program’s current objectives are promoting equity and social inclusion and building the field of early childhood education.
We promote equity and inclusion by focusing on the rights of three groups of children who are especially at risk of systemic exclusion: refugees and migrants, children with disabilities and developmental delays, and Roma children.
We aim to strengthen early childhood education at the global, regional, and country levels. We promote innovation and evidence building, and we use our convening power to improve collaboration and boost political interest in, and funding for, the field.
The program is primarily active in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Southern and Western Africa, with growing engagement in Latin America.