Consultancy – Early Childhood Development Roster
Interested in this role? Chat to UNICEF recruiters directly at the upcoming Global Careers For Spanish Nationals event on 14 November.
UNICEF has been working in partnership with national governments in the ECA region, donors (such as the Global Partnership for Education and the Open Society Foundations), non-governmental regional actors (such as the International Step by Step Association), universities (such as Ankara University, University of London, The European School of Maternal, Infant, Child, and Adolescent Health), and professional capacity building associations (such as the Institute of Health Visiting) to support young children’s comprehensive well-being and expand their access to inclusive early childhood education of good quality.
UNICEF supports and promotes Early Childhood Development through advocacy and programming activities in 3 key areas:
Young Child Health, Development and Wellbeing (conception to age 3)
UNICEF recognizes that all families of newborns and young children can benefit from some support, and some families need all the support they can get. In ECA the health sector provides the best entry point to reach and support families for neonatal care and young children’s health, development and wellbeing. Therefore, UNICEF is supporting the development of early child development capacity through strengthened health systems that support families for optimal young child survival, health, growth, development and protection through comprehensive home visiting services as well as through incorporating ECD into health care at various levels (primary/secondary/tertiary). Strengthened home visiting services are expected to contribute to family resilience and knowledge about child development, as well as to identify young children with disabilities and/developmental difficulties for intervention services at the earliest stage to make full use of the period of maximum brain development. UNICEF supports health system strengthening by addressing the various system building blocks including, monitoring, reporting and reinforcement of management information systems. UNICEF also supports the use of digital technology and the media to reach parents with counselling and support to promote the development and wellbeing of their children.
Pre-primary Education (ages 3-6)
Additionally, building on the lessons and experiences from the past decade, and the recommendations of an independent multi-country evaluation of UNICEF’s Early Learning and School Readiness initiatives in the region, UNICEF is now bringing a renewed strategic focus to its pre-primary programming. This incorporates and reflects UNICEF’s increased emphasis on pre-primary education in the SDGs, UNICEF’s Education Strategy and UNICEF ECA’s Regional Flagship Results. The effort is to work closely with partners toward innovating and accelerating efforts to expand access, improve quality and reduce inequities in participation and learning. Across the region UNICEF has focused its programming at a national systems level, recognizing that contributions to systemic change are the most effective and sustainable route to the progressive realization of children’s rights. At the same time, UNICEF engages in system strengthening at the local level through knowledge generation, capacity building, modeling, and reinforcing management information systems.
Early Detection and Early Intervention for children with developmental delays and disabilities (0-6 years)
Global research shows that universal access to high quality early childhood intervention (ECI) services can change a child’s developmental trajectory, prevent severe disability, and improve learning and behavioural outcomes. Countries need to address the challenges faced by children with disabilities and their families – right from the start. Health care services provide a suitable platform for the early identification of developmental difficulties and a smooth transition to the education system and access to quality early learning in a continuum of support to families during the early childhood years. The development of ECI services in ECA needs to be guided by 5 key shifts: A shift from deficit model of addressing disability toward the empowerment model and the use of ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health); A shift from the child-centered toward family-centered model where families are recognized as key and equal patterns in the Early Interventions process; A shift from fragmented services toward developing comprehensive services and a cadre of trained providers, skilled in early detection/Intervention evidence-based approaches; A shift from an early childhood approach to disability—toward a life-cycle approach, allowing for a smooth transition to potentially life-long programmes; A shift toward the use of standardized methods and tools for monitoring ECD and early detection, notably within primary health services. UNICEF also supports the introduction of Assistive Technology solutions for the inclusion of young children with developmental challenges and disabilities, in early education and family and social life.
Technical Competencies and Experience
Minimum of ten years of relevant professional experience, including at least two in the ECA region. Potential consultants will be required to possess at least some of the following competencies:
- Extensive knowledge of global developments in the science of ECD and international engagement strategies, including the application of the equity lens and human rights perspectives to programming.
- Strong ECD policy and sector analysis capacity, including understanding of the core health and education data sets, indicators, tools for analysis of equity, determinants of access to health, nutrition, child development, early learning, and re/habilitation services, budget, cost and financing, health and education system strengthening and management, political economy and the ability to apply those to ECD policy and strategic planning.
- Familiarity with ECD multi-sectoral program design, costing, monitoring and evaluation and reporting.
- Strong ECD planning knowledge/ability, including range of modalities for delivering early childhood education, linkages between different sub-sectors (e.g. ECD, primary, Inclusive Education) and sectors (health, education, child protection, social protection), cost effectiveness and efficiency issues, key institutional structures, components and processes, as well as governance issues.
- Familiarity with innovative solutions, digital technology and assistive technology to promote the wellbeing and inclusion of all children.
- Strong ability to undertake policy analysis: translation of analytical findings and evidence into development programs, national strategies, public administration reform, development of regulations and by-laws, development of monitoring and evaluation frameworks for national policies, development of quality standards, design of new services and delivery mechanisms; policy discussions with partners, including government, development partners, CSOs and academia in relevant areas.
- Good understanding of the overall global development context, including issues such as: poverty, conflict and the impact of these factors on early child development and learning and vice-versa; and cross-sectoral approaches to address such issues in collaboration with other sectors (including Social Policy, Child Protection, Nutrition, WASH, Health and Communications).
- Affiliation with ECD networks and institutions.
- Good understanding of gender and inequity issues in relation to ECD and the application of gender/equity analysis to policy and planning in ECD.
Minimum Qualifications required are as follows:
- Advanced university degree in one or more of the disciplines relevant to the following areas: Early Childhood Development/Education, Psychology, Child Development, Early Intervention/Special Education, Human Development, Maternal and Child Health, Public Health, Social Policy, Child Protection or other relevant discipline/area of work.
- Experience in research and preparing publications at the regional level in at least one of the disciplines relevant to the areas listed above.
- Knowledge of political, social and economic issues in the ECA region.
- Familiarity with ECD, education and early childhood education in former Soviet and Yugoslav countries.
- Fluency in English
- Field experience in ECA countries is an asset.
- Fluency in at least one of the major languages used in the region