Nurturing care will enable children and adolescents to accrue the human capital required to meet UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—Maureen Black, Ph.D., a distinguished fellow in early childhood development at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, and nine researchers from organizations throughout the world, recently outlined the scientific basis for extending nurturing care—stable environments that promote children’s health and nutrition, protect from threats, and provide opportunities for learning and responsive, emotionally supportive and developmentally enriching—from pre-conception through adolescence to build human capital. The conceptual paper was published in BMJ-Global Health.
Researchers found that nurturing relationships, first within the family and then with peers and community members, are the focus of effective programs throughout childhood and adolescence. When principles of nurturing care are applied from preconception through adolescence, that framework can mitigate adversities, enhance resilience, and promote the well-being of marginalized groups, human rights and human capital accrual for impacted children and adolescents.
“Through the implementation of a Nurturing Care Framework, we are strategically positioned to enhance human development, ensure that children and adolescents can reach their developmental potential, and attain the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals,” said Dr. Black. “However, to provide effective nurturing care, multisectoral interventions are needed to support families who rely on communities, services, policies and laws to support their physical and mental health, safety, access to services and opportunities to obtain financial stability.”
The study found that universal policies, including access to free preventive and promotive healthcare, childcare and early childhood education, and quality education from preprimary through secondary, are central to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Other critical policies to enhance human capital include bans against child marriage and corporal punishment of children and youth; policies to enhance appropriate nutrition across the life course; and policies to end institutionalization and promote family care for children.
Adopting an extended version of the Nurturing Care Framework as a comprehensive, evidence-based framework through six child developmental periods—preconception/prenatal, newborn/birth, infancy/toddlerhood, preschool, middle childhood and adolescence—is a critical step in promoting equity and advancing goals that reduce threats of poor health, food insecurity, illiteracy, neglect and cruelty, inadequate resources and limited social freedom.
To view the full conceptual paper in BMJ-Global Health, visit https://gh.bmj.com/content/bmjgh/6/4/e004436.full.pdf