Revitalising Evidence-Based Multisectoral Investments in Early Childhood Development for Sustained and Inclusive Economic Growth in India

The early years, particularly the first 1,000 days, are a critical period in a child’s development, with lifelong impacts. Evidence shows that one of the most effective strategies for economic growth is investing in the developmental growth of at-risk young children. However, early childhood development (ECD) programmes are severely challenged by the sheer scale of need in the face of early childhood care and education losses due to COVID-19 measures, growing global food insecurity, and low budget allocations for ECD during austerity. This brief makes a case for greater multisectoral investments in ECD (such as health education, nutrition, and child protection) and coherent policy responses. It uses India as a proof of concept with global potential by (1) understanding multidimensional deprivations among children under six; (2) tracking investments in ECD; and (3) ensuring sustainable access to nutrition and early learning opportunities in a ‘business not as usual’ manner.