The Early Childhood Development Task Force (ECDtf)) is a global network of more than 800 professionals and parents committed to ensuring that young children with disabilities will achieve their full potentials. http://ecdtf.org
Our initiatives focus on the inclusion of young children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families in emergent global and regional development agendas and priorities (e.g., Sustainable Development Goals; strategic plans of organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, GPE, , )
We aim to establish and expand high quality services for inclusive early childhood development (IECD), early childhood intervention (ECI), and inclusive nurturing care (INC). We promote multi-sectoral and cross-sectoral policies, programs, and practices in all nations. Our 800+ volunteer professionals and family members affiliated with over 160 organizations and hailing from 96 countries across nine regions of the globe. We serve as a network hub for an orchestrated ECD-ECI voice within the .
We foster the inclusion and equitable participation of young children and their families in education, social protection, health, and nutrition. By connecting-the-dots between the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), we galvanize and coordinate global and national efforts toward inclusive and sustainable development, focusing on the needs and rights of young children with disabilities and their families. By twin-tracking our efforts to enhance both a) policies and programs aimed universally at all children and b) policies and programs aimed at the particular needs of young children with disabilities and delays, we strengthen holistic and responsive systems of health, education, and well-being. We are a diverse community of practice, a sophisticated advocacy platform, and a hub for professional development.
Our vision is to ensure that young children with developmental delays or disabilities achieve their full potential. We aim to promote multi-sectoral policies, programs and practices from preconception to eight years of age in all nations. Our goals are to establish and expand high-quality inclusive services for early childhood intervention in natural and community-based environments and to enhance the inclusion and equitable participation of young children and families in social protection, education, nutrition, and health, including in emergency situations.
Since the 2012 inception of the Global Partnership for Children with Disabilities (GPcwd), stakeholders committed to the challenges and opportunities inherent in early childhood development (ECD) as a vital pathway toward inclusive development have contributed to the enterprise. As the first wave of Task Forces began their work in Education, Nutrition, Assistive Technologies, and Humanitarian Action, it became increasingly clear that the essential and cross-cutting perspective of ECD would enhance and enrich GPcwd deliberations and actions.
A survey on priorities and governance options fielded by the GPcwd Secretariat in 2013 identified strong interest and a compelling rationale for establishing an ECD Task Force. GPcwd asked a network of advocates and experts convened by the Partnership for Early Childhood Development and Disability Rights (PECDDR) to launch and coordinate a new ECD Task Force (ECDtf).
From this small group of a dozen PECDDR volunteers in 2012, ECDtf has grown to become a network and community of practice with more than 800 volunteer professionals and family members affiliated with over 160 organizations and hailing from 96 countries across nine regions of the globe. We serve as a network hub for an orchestrated ECD-ECI voice within the Global Partnership on children with disabilities (GPcwd). We work in concert with kindred initiatives focused on the inclusion of young children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families in emergent global and regional development agendas and priorities (e.g., Sustainable Development Goals; strategic plans of organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, GPE, ECDAN, etc.). We “connect-the-dots” between the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) with advocacy for an inclusive approach to early childhood development.
1. Policy advocacy and leadership
2. Knowledge development: documents, tools, processes, research
3. Capacity building thru pre- and in-service training and technical assistance
4. Improvement and expansion of inclusive services
5. Early identification through developmental surveillance and screening
6. Networking, knowledge transfer and information exchange
7. Asserting the rights of young children and families
ECDtf members are actively engaged in each of the interrelated priorities. To stimulate engagement with key policy and practice issues, task teams of ECDtf members galvanize resources and generate capacity in significant ways.
Communications to members and other interested professionals and families
Ø Newsletter provides information on past and current activities, archived at http://ecdtf.org/ecdtf-newsletters.
ØListserv discussion forum at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ecdtf
In partnership with UNICEF and RISE Institute, we published this “Global Survey of Inclusive Early Childhood Development & Early Childhood Intervention Programs” http://ecdtf.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Global-Survey-of-IECD-and-ECI-Programs-2019.pdf It maps the field and fosters communication among our members and with affiliated networks and policy structure
In the current COVID19 pandemic, webinars provide for valuable exchanges of updates and good practices as young children and their families become especially vulnerable and underserved in national and global systems.
At the 2015 outbreak of the Zika virus epidemic, ECDtf focused advocacy and professional development efforts addressing the needs of infants impaired by Congenital Zika Syndrome, anticipating the emergence of developmental disabilities and delays that would challenge families, clinics and schools for years to come.
Webinars and publications include: https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/2220-the-hope-and-challenges-for-the-youngest-children-around-the-world and https://www.hiltonfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/ZTT_journal_global_issue-3.pdf
As the global crises of refugees and migrants continue to evolve, ECDtf members focus on the particular needs and rights of young children with disabilities in the “children on the move” space, e.g., https://learning.careyinstitute.org/learn/leveraging-success-inclusive-early-childhood-development-scenarios-children-disabilities
ECDtf operates a googlegroup list-serve that facilitates communication among members.
In pre-pandemic times, ECDtf convened gatherings of current and prospective members at side-events or program events at a wide range of national and international professional conferences such as: Childhood Education International, European Academy of Childhood Disabilities, International Step-by-Step Association, International Society for Social Pediatrics, UNICEF conferences, among others.
As a professional development resource hub and community of practice, ECDtf engages its members from a broad range of professional disciplines and agencies including health, education, child care, nutrition, social protection, and advocacy. Our commitment to inclusion and family-centered values elaborates our scope such that parents and other caregivers or other community workers or volunteers not necessarily operating as formal professionals are fully appreciated and engaged as teammates and stakeholders. Such partnership is vital to the Inclusive Early Childhood Development (IECD) and Inclusive Nurturing Care (INC) enterprises.
As an advocacy platform, ECDtf unifies and amplifies the voices of its members and stakeholders in ways that advance IECD and INC, thus ensuring the rights of young children with developmental delays and disabilities and their families. Thus a set of internal audiences – members, their agencies, and networks – is coordinated for exchange, adaptation, and dissemination of advocacy messages, tools, and resources.
Simultaneously, the shared audiences of program and policy designers, funders, implementers, and evaluators external to ECDtf by varying degrees compose the key audiences and targets for advocacy. For example, when the large and powerful multilateral agencies UNICEF, WHO, and World Bank launched the Nurturing Care Framework in 2018 as a new program for helping children survive and thrive to transform health and human potential, the role of ECDtf was to coordinate its members for advocacy and collaboration at multiple levels so that the particular needs and rights of young children with disabilities and delays were considered more thoughtfully and explicitly in the Nurturing Care policy. We worked for a better and stronger policy by virtue of ensuring that the focus would be upon Inclusive Nurturing Care. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30977124
The significant growth of ECDtf from its humble beginnings as an adhoc committee of a handful of professionals to a diverse 800-member network including family members, educators, therapists, scientists, advocates, community workers, health professionals, and other volunteers attests to awareness and commitment regarding inclusive early childhood development and inclusive nurturing care enterprises. ECDtf has become a valued and respected partner in a wide range of programs and networks striving for enhancing the lives oy young children with disabilities and delays and their families.
Recommendations for Replication and/or Adaptation
While it is likely difficult to replicate our extended international network, we encourage educators, professionals, and families to use our various sites for strategies and activities for young children with disabilities. Links for accessing newsletters, webinars, updates of best practices are provided under “Activities.”
Continuing innovation in the design and delivery of professional development and collaborative learning platforms is an increasingly vital direction as we are experiencing in these COVID-19 pandemic months.
Donald Wertlieb, PhD
Partnership for Early Childhood Development & Disability Rights (PECDDR)
9 Harvest Hill
Chilmark, MA 02535