HELP Internationally

Global Knowledge Network for ECD

In 2005, the World Health Organization Commission on Social Determinants of Health designated HELP as the Knowledge Network for ECD. Led by Dr. Clyde Hertzman, HELP embarked on an intensive two-year research project, the result of which was the report Early Child Development: a Powerful Equalizer.

Children are the world’s most vulnerable population. There is increasing recognition that when children have a good start in life they will be healthier adults. As a result, they will be more capable of building better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.  

HELP's comprehensive investigation of early child development is working to answering fundamental questions about the types of early environments and experiences that support children and families to thrive. This work informs social policy, early childhood education programming and intervention activities that are directly applied to the welfare of children globally.

The Global Knowledge Network for ECD works to improve health and health equity at a population level with a focus on promoting ECD internationally through various collaborative initiatives.

HELP's International Initiatives

Early Childhood Rights Indicators Project

Working with international partners, and led by Dr. Clyde Hertzman, HELP developed a child rights indicators framework to assist States Parties in meeting their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This research is currently being led by Dr. Ziba Vaghri, Assistant Professor, University of Victoria. For more information, please visit the Early Childhood Rights Indicators website.

Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission

HELP has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission. The purpose is to collaborate on establishing a scientific early child development program base in Shanghai that will conform to standards adopted by the World Health Organization and relevant United Nations organizations. Part of the Shanghai project will also include designing an ECD evaluation system, as well as family and parent guidance materials.

International EDI

HELP and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) are partnering to build expertise at the Aga Khan University in Pakistan to explore future use of the Early Development Instrument (EDI).

Reports and Resources

Handbook of Early Childhood Development Research and Its Impact on Global Policy (2013). Chapter 19: “Monitoring Progress Toward Fulfilling Rights in Early Childhood Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families.” Sponsored by the Society for Research in Child Development and UNICEF, the papers in this publication draw attention to the inequities and inequalities in early childhood development primarily in developing countries, and point to the need to place early childhood development at the top of the global policy agenda.

Health in All Policies: Seizing opportunities, implementing policies. Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland (2013). Chapter 6: “Promoting equity from the start through early child development and Health in All Policies (ECD-HiAP).” This publication brings together international health researchers, policy-makers, academics and community advocates who explore integrating a ‘health in all policies’ approach to inter-sectoral public policy making with the goal of achieving workable solutions to achieve health equity.

Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health (2008). WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Final Report.  Social justice is a matter of life and death. It affects the way people live, their consequent chance of illness, and their risk of premature death. We watch in wonder as life expectancy and good health continue to increase in parts of the world and in alarm as they fail to improve in others.

Total Environment Assessment Model for Early Child Development (2007). For the World Health Organization's Commission on Social Determinants of Health. This report provides a framework for understanding the environments (and their characteristics) that play a significant role in providing nurturing conditions to all children in an equitable manner.

Early Child Development: A Powerful Equalizer (2007) Final Report to the WHO. This document synthesizes knowledge about opportunities to improve the state of early child development on a global scale. In keeping with international policy standards, early childhood is defined as the period from prenatal development to eight years of age. What a child experiences during the early years sets a critical foundation for the entire life course. This is because early child development (ECD), including health, physical, social/emotional and language/cognitive domains strongly influences basic learning, school success, economic participation, social citizenry and health. Also available in French, Mandarin and Spanish.