Early childhood care and development

Last update: February 2022 | Next update: May 2023

Early childhood is an essential period of a child’s life, requiring an engaging environment and nurturing care to support and facilitate development. Children with disabilities risk missing out on the care and stimulation they need in the early years due to increased exposure to factors that make them more vulnerable. These include poverty, stigma and discrimination, exclusion from early learning opportunities, institutionalization, violence, abuse and neglect. Exclusion from stimulating environments can significantly hinder participation in learning opportunities and negatively impact the achievement of important skills and educational outcomes. Caregivers’ knowledge, attitudes, expectations, and skills also influence the amount and quality of stimulation experienced by children. Children with disabilities often require different approaches to play and stimulation for them to find play activities accessible and engaging. The various challenges that parents face in engaging their children in early stimulation and activities often results in children with disabilities being more likely to be neglected and lack supervision or stimulation activities by a caregiver than children without disabilities.