Facility-based health care for
Early Child Development

Facility-based health care services in Europe and Central Asia have a unique opportunity to support holistic child development, as well as caregivers with knowledge and guidance on how to meet the needs of their developing child. For health professionals, managers, and policy makers, the key challenge is to utilise the “touch points” or regular encounters with children and their families, to introduce and integrate support for early child development.

The regular health encounters with families of young children (well-childcare and immunisation visits, parenting sessions, antenatal visits, etc.) can be used to deliver guidance, counselling and model parenting behaviours that are developmentally sensitive and support child’s motor, socio-emotional, language and cognitive development. The content should be relevant for parents and families and should include positive and responsive parent-child interactions, stimulation, and early learning through play, as well as child safety and general advice on parenting practices (e.g., positive discipline, praise, reading, etc.). Health care workers can also support parents to understand child development and age-appropriate needs, they can also identify and flag potential delays and difficulties, as well as open a space to discuss and address parent’s concerns. Routine visits to facilities are also an opportunity to provide care for the mental health and well-being of caregivers.