Print to PDF

Early Childhood Development

The programme supports equitable access to quality Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) services

This programme aims at achieving equitable access to and use of quality Integrated early childhood development (IECD) services, particularly for vulnerable and excluded families with young children, such as Roma, and families with children with developmental difficulties. Building on previous IECD achievements, remaining bottlenecks will be addressed through the expansion of IECD and early childhood intervention (ECI) services, including home visiting. UNICEF will leverage resources to improve access to quality IECD services for children with disabilities, Roma children and children from impoverished areas as well to prevent violence against children and family separation. The programme will support the adoption of intersectoral IECD action plans and budgets in 80 per cent of the cantons and 35 per cent of all municipalities; professional development programmes in IECD/ECI for health, social welfare and preschool professionals; and development of parenting skills and encouragement of equal involvement of mothers and fathers. As a result, at least 35,000 children up to age 5 and their families will receive quality IECD and ECI services, including home visiting. The model will be expanded through system changes.

Support to ECD is two-fold and it includes:

1) Support to Governments in development of strategic framework;
2) Support to provision of ECD services.

The results achieved thus far include:

1) Development of Framework ECD Policy for BiH, Policies and Strategies for Improvement of ECD in both entities, Protocols on ECD cooperation at entity and cantonal level signed by relevant Ministries, as well as entity Policies for Improving Child Nutrition and entity Guidelines for Healthy Nutrition for Pre-school and School Children. Currently, UNICEF supports development of new ECD Strategy for Federation BiH, as previous one expired.

2) Support was provided to capacity building of health, education and social welfare professionals in ECD and establishment of ECD services, including home visiting, within the existing system. Scaling up the ECD services continued, and up to date there are 24% of municipalities covered with ECD services. Capacity building entails different forms of workshops and conferences on ECD and ECI for over 500 professionals (that include health, social services and education professionals) and detailed six-days training for more than 150 professionals, which includes theoretical classes and practical work with children with developmental disabilities through individual and group sessions. The most experienced professionals are offered the three-day advanced training, where they exchange their experiences and lessons learned. So far about 40 experts have completed the advanced training.

3) In cooperation with relevant entity ministries, UNICEF supported national experts to develop ECD instruments. Major instrument is Developmental Behavioral Scales for assessing the child development between the first month until the age of six. This is a standardized assessment of early growth and development of children in Bosnia and Herzegovina, focusing on the five development areas, relying on real behavioral norms, which are standardized by testing approximately 1,500 children. Using these assessment scales helps detect deviations in children and monitor their growth and development, guides professionals who work in the service intervention and gives clear instructions to parents / guardians of stimulation and work at home. Other tools developed in the country are:  Guide for Development of Individual Development Programs for Children from Birth to Three, Guide for Development of Individual Development Programs for Children Three to Six and Curriculum for Parents Education.


Contact:   Fatima Čengić, Health and ECD Specialist (UNICEF) 

Project duration:
2015 - 2020
Social affairs
Strategic partner:
CSOs, Ministry of Civil Affairs BiH, Ministry of Education and Culture RS, Ministry of Education and Science FBiH, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of RS, Ministry of Health FBiH, Ministry of Work and Social Affairs FBiH
United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
Project implemented in:
Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska
Tuzla Canton, Zenica-Doboj Canton, Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, Central Bosnia Canton
Municipalities (6):
Banja Luka, Kiseljak, Laktaši, Mostar, Tešanj, Tuzla