Scaling Up Early Childhood Development (ECD) (0-4 years) in South Africa: What Makes a Difference to Child Outcomes in the Period 0-4? Inputs for Quality ECD Interventions

Research Report. Human Sciences Research Council

This paper is one of a series developed to inform the Scaling Up ECD Services (0–4 years) Research Project with the aim of improving child development and significant job creation. Dawes et al present the evidence for programmes to improve child outcomes in the years 0–4, looking at the populations, outcomes and interventions identified in the NIP. The focus is on the design of effective interventions to improve child development in vulnerable populations, with the ultimate goal of ensuring a sound physical and psychological foundation for health and development. The paper reviews the literature to ascertain the specific factors associated with programme effectiveness in ECD, and the key ingredients of successful interventions. It reviews majority country settings, but includes developed countries where appropriate. The main objective is to identify the ingredients and design parameters of home-based and formal programmes associated with improvements in children’s development. Based on a Rapid Evidence Assessment, the paper summarises the key findings on what works best to improve early outcomes in the following areas: nutrition, early psychological development, parenting, early stimulation and child care (in the home and group settings), and systems that promote access to services. It does not consider interventions to improve child health other than those that increase parents’ awareness of factors that promote health and provide them with links to health services.