Skip to Main Content

Hope for the world’s most vulnerable children impacted by COVID-19

October 01, 2020
by Michael M. McCarthy and Nancy Fallon

C20 Summit 2020

On Saturday October 10, Yale faculty will join with their international colleagues from the Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) to discuss early childhood development (ECD) strategies in relation to COVID-19 at this year’s Civil Society 20 (C20)’s virtual annual summit. According to the C20, “This year’s summit is sure to be the biggest virtual gather of thousands of civil society leaders and change makers in the G20 process”.

ECPC Panel Session

ECPCs panel session Response to COVID-19 for children in fragile and conflict-affected settings: The promise of early childhood development will examine the invisible impact of COVID-19 on the world’s most vulnerable children, and how investing in early childhood care and education can combat COVID-19’s short- and long-term impact on children living among conflict, war, and displacement.

COVID-19 has impacted the world in ways that were unimaginable just one year ago. Attention must be given to the long-lasting harmful effects this virus can have on the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development of our young children, particularly regarding our most vulnerable children. COVID-19 has added additional strain on our most helpless children who have been or are continuing to be exposed to unsafe environments, war, conflict, and displacement across the globe. Often these young children are overlooked, making it our responsibility and duty to ensure that COVID-19 has a minimal permanent impact on our world’s future leaders. Investing in early childhood development (ECD) plays a critical role in protecting the physical health and emotional well-being of children.

The ECPC panel discussion will gather leading international experts in ECD who will share varied perspectives on how to develop and implement health and education policy that targets and curbs the negative effects of COVID-19 on the development of our young children.

What does science teach us on the importance of ECD in the context of COVID

James F. Leckman, MD, PhD, Neison Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology, a distinguished 40-year faculty member in the Yale Child Study Center who has ongoing ECD research projects across the Middle East, South East Asia, Latin America and Europe, will present on the latest evidence-based science. According to Professor Leckman, there is no question that there are and will be many life-threatening adverse consequences of the pandemic for millions of children across the globe, especially the most vulnerable. “Children are, in many ways, the hidden victims of the pandemic.”

The good news, he says, is that developmental neuroscience has led to a revolutionary shift in assessing the interplay between genetic alterations in the developing brain and early life experiences, both positive and negative. The neuroscience and other multiple disciplines, such as epigenetics, psychology, and economics, indicate how ECD services can prompt members of high-risk groups to rebuild trust, re-connect, and develop long-lasting resilience.

Science heralds a new era

Also, representing Yale as session moderator and presenter on the overview of this critical situation is Rima Salah, PhD, ECPC Chairperson, Assistant Clinical Professor in the Yale Child Study Center, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, and former member of the United Nations High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations. According to Professor Salah, the COVID-19 outbreak and containment measures exacerbate existing crises and further violate vulnerable children’s rights. The pandemic not only severely affects young children’s physical, mental health and social and emotional development, but their safety, eco¬nomic security, access to education, play, recreational activities and more (United Nations).

Professor Salah upholds “The science heralds a new era, asserting that ECD is a vital opportunity for building a sustainable future fit for the world’s children and empowering them through promoting The Culture of Peace, as called for by the United Nations” (UN Resolution A/RES/74/21).

Promising ECD program development, evaluation and implementation

Joining Yale on the C20 panel are a prominent group of ECPC international professionals in the field of ECD that focus on 1) program development, evaluation and implementation in the context of peacebuilding, 2) on-the-ground intervention programs in humanitarian situations, and 3) and the right to education for all, including the most vulnerable.

  • Siobhan M. Fitzpatrick, CBE, MBA, MSSC, CQSW, BScFormer Chief Executive Officer, Early Years - the organisation for young children (N. Ireland)
  • Nada Elattar, MPHEarly Childhood Development Specialist - Emergencies, UNICEF
  • Ghassan Issa, MDCo-founder and the General Coordinator of an Arab regional non-governmental organization, director of the Arab Network for Early Childhood Development – ANECD (Lebanon)
  • Ana TenorioGlobal Technical Director, Education, TSO, World Vision International

How to participate in this panel discussion

Given COVID-19’s potential lifelong impact on our young children’s social, emotional, and physical development, we invite you to join our 90-minute discussion on how to utilize ECD policy as a tool to tackle the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on our most vulnerable children.

The ECPC interactive 90-minute session will broadcast LIVE on C20 online channels from 9:30 to 11:00 AM ET (4:30-6:00 PM Saudi Arabian Time - UTC+3:00).

Register for the interactive ECPC session to learn how investing in early childhood care and education can combat COVID-19’s short- and long-term impact on children living among conflict, war, and displacement. Participation in and registration for this year’s C20 summit is free and open to the public.


About the C20

As one of the Group of Twenty’s (G20) eight official engagement groups, the C20 has a diverse coalition of civil leaders spanning across 80 countries who play a prominent role in fostering social and economic justice across the international community and holding our world leaders accountable for protecting the rights of all people. This year’s summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia, is expected to have more than 4,000 participants and will focus on 5 core themes: the world’s response and recovery to COVID-19, economic and social justice, sustainable development, protection of human rights as well as the accountability and transparency of governments across the world.

[Read the C20 Summit Guide.]

[Watch the video Civil Society 20 - #BreakingEveryBarrier]


About the ECPC

The Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) is a global movement of United Nations agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, academia, practitioners and the private sector focused on sharing scientific and practice-based evidence on how investment in early childhood development (ECD) can contribute to sustainable peace, social cohesion and social justice. We recognize that investing in ECD is a powerful and cost-effective strategy for reducing violence, poverty and exclusion and for building peaceful societies

#C20Summit #ECD4peace #FutureChild

Submitted by Lauren Perry on October 02, 2020