Social protection programs and early childhood development: unexplored potential

Social protection programs and early childhood development: unexplored potential

The rapid growth in social protection programs has been fuelled in part by the promise of its ability to reduce poverty, including emerging findings on improved child health and education outcomes. Early childhood care and development (ECCD) is gaining wide recognition as a robust and viable approach to building human capital and alleviating poverty, but there has been relatively little inquiry into the relationship between social protection and early childhood development. 

This report addresses this knowledge gap by taking a systematic review methodology to examine the effects of social protection programs on ECCD outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. The study finds that there are clear implications for scale-up. For programmes to have greater impact, the authors argue that they must explicitly target ECCD outcomes in order to measure and evaluate the effects. Additionally, programs must be generated considering applicability across contexts, with a clear theory of change, and include early and ongoing evaluation with a phased scale-up. 

Adapted from authors’ summary.