STOCKHOLM, 23 May 2017 – The non-profit H&M Foundation and UNICEF today renewed their mutual commitment to improving children’s early development. The three-year partnership will continue to build on the achievements made by the organizations’ previous collaboration, aimed at driving an increased understanding of how experience and environment during early childhood can permanently and positively shape brain development.
Under the new agreement, the H&M Foundation will invest more than USD 6.5 million in UNICEF’s Early Childhood Development programs, helping to reach 145,000 children, parents, teachers and influencers in Timor-Leste, Egypt, Mali and Vietnam.
The funds will help UNICEF train teachers and health workers in early childhood education, and give parents the knowledge and support they need to provide their children with nurturing care, helping to strengthen social cohesion in the four countries, including in fragile and post-conflict societies.
Providing infants and young children with good nutrition, love, protection and stimulation during early childhood helps foster healthy cognitive, physical and emotional development. Supporting parents and caregivers with services that help them provide their children with nurturing care is one of the most cost-effective ways of giving children the best possible chance of reaching optimal development.
Lack of nurturing care during and prolonged exposure to adversity or violence in the early years can inhibit optimal brain development in babies and young children, leading to lifelong consequences for individual children and their societies.
“During the past three years, we have taken bold steps to put Early Childhood development on the global agenda to be part of the transformative change needed. Building on the results and learnings from the last years, we are now taking the partnership to the second phase. By giving the most vulnerable and excluded children the best start in life, it will not only strengthen the individual child and its family, but also drive positive, long lasting change in communities and help countries reduce poverty and increase tolerance”, said Diana Amini, Global Manager of the H&M Foundation.
”Nearly 250 million children under the age of five in developing countries are at risk of poor development,” said UNICEF Chief of Early Childhood Development Pia Britto. “We rely on support from our partners to reach the most vulnerable and excluded children to help change their life paths.”
“UNICEF is grateful to the H&M Foundation for its ongoing support helping to make sure babies and children experience the love, good nutrition, stimulation through play and early learning, and protection they need in the critical early moments.”