Research has shown that experiences in the early years influence a child's development, life trajectory and life outcomes. The first 1,000 days from conception to the end of age two are generally recognised to be the most critical and sensitive periods of brain development. From prenatal through the initial few years of life, the brain undergoes its most rapid development, and early experiences determine whether its architecture is sturdy or fragile. Children from low-income families are at greater risk of experiences that affect their development, sometimes even before they are born.
The international evidence base for early childhood intervention continues to grow, showing that benefits are greatest for upstream early intervention programmes that provide support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and during the earliest stages of child development. For these children, having a good start in life can help to narrow the development gap between them and their peers, increase their life opportunities, and improve social mobility.
•Moore, T.G., Arefadib, N., Deery, A., Keyes, M., & West, S. (2017). The First Thousand Days: An Evidence Paper. Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Centre for Community Child Health, Parkville, Victoria.
•Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University (2007). The impact of early adversity on child development (InBrief).
•Hackman, D.A., Farah, M.J., Meaney, M.J. (2010). Socioeconomic status and the brain: mechanistic insights from human and animal research. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11(9), 651-9.