Sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Week of the Young Child was established in 1971.
It is well-recognized that the first 8 years of life are critical to a child's physical and emotional growth. The purpose of the Week of the Young Child is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to support the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.
In the United States, there are about 23 million children between the ages of birth through 5 and another 23 million children between the ages of 6 to 11. Events and celebrations marking the Week of the Young Child are often designated to increase public awareness to some of the issues affecting our youngest citizens. Some of these issues include quality childcare, poverty, health care, and abuse.
NAEYC hightlights some specific goals for improving childcare for young children.
What must be done to meet the nation's child care needs?
- The federal government and individual states must increase their child care and early education commitment to ensure that funds are available to help families access child care.
- America's working parents need paid parental leave.
- Local governments should expand their role in helping to improve the affordability, quality, and supply of child care and early education services.
- The business sector must become a stronger partner in meeting the child care needs of their employees by providing more on-site care and by helping parents pay for care.
- Community group and agencies need to make child care and early education a top priority.
- Services that keep children safe and nurtured must be supported and replicated.
- Child care providers must have access to good training and education programs and be fairly compensated.
The Week of the Young Child is first and foremost a grassroots celebration. Local communities may tailor the celebration to best meet their own needs. Many communities have had success in coordinating efforts that create broad visibility and support for young children. Agencies, programs and individual providers have shared their celebration ideas here.