MPs and early years experts pledge support to make early years a worldwide priority

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A call to put early childhood development (ECD) at the heart of the United Nations' next global development goals has received cross-party support.

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In August, Ivan Lewis, shadow secretary of state for international development and Dame Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, launched a campaign calling for an integrated approach to early childhood development to be included within the Millennium Development Goals’ succeeding framework post 2015.

As part of the campaign, Dame Tessa started a petition, which so far has 2,265 signatures.

The Labour MPs believe that the current Millennium Development Goals, which range from halving extreme poverty and providing universal primary education all by 2015, do not do enough to support children during their earliest stages of life.

A post-2015 Development Agenda will replace the eight goals, agreed to by all the world’s countries, in two years’ time.

The Prime Minister David Cameron is co-chair of the high-level panel that advises on the development framework beyond 2015.

Parliamentarians and other early years and health professionals today pledged their support to the call for ECD to be included within the goals at a Parliamentary reception at the House of Commons.

The reception, sponsored by the University of Northampton, was hosted by Tessa Jowell, with speakers including Michael Ellis, Conservative MP for Northampton, Unicef’s head of early childhood development Dr Pia Britto and Dr Nurper Ulker, previously Unicef’s chief of early childhood development in New York.

Among those attending the event were Laura Henry, managing director of the Childcare Consultancy, Catherine Rushforth, managing director of training and consultancy agency Catherine Rushforth & Associates, and Wendy Scott, president of TACTYC. 

MPs Andrea Leadsom, Frank Field and Caroline Lucas, who are behind the 1001 Critical Days Manifesto, from conception to age two, also pledged their support.

Speaking at the event, Dame Tessa encouraged people to sign her petition to put early childhood development at the core of the post 2015 framework.

Denise Hevey, professor of early years at the University of Northampton, who also attended the Parliamentary reception, said, ‘It makes financial sense to make early childhood development a goal.

‘In order to meet the goal, we need training for childcare professionals that is holistic. Practitioners in nurseries need to be able to recognise when they should refer children to other professionals, including doctors.

‘Now is the time to persuade David Cameron to champion a goal for ECD.’

As part of the event, which formed part of the university’s Early Years Summit, supporters are asked to submit their promise for a Global Promise Tree for Early Childhood Development via Twitter using #Uni4Children, (pictured right is Dr Eunice Lumsden from the University of Northampton with her promise and below Tara Shah, manager of Tudor Court Nursery in Bedford.)

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