POLICIES AND PRACTICES TO ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF HIGHLY VULNERABLE YOUNG CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
Although the global movement to support early childhood well-being has resulted in the development and expansion of many programs to support early development and learning, most of these programs fall short of meeting the needs of highly vulnerable young children and their families. This paper discusses the complex, multiple needs of these children and their families and the importance of providing them with the comprehensive, customized services needed to address the many challenges these families face, particularly challenges caused by poverty. It includes an examination of the characteristics of programs and services that appear to hold promise for meeting the needs of these families and improving outcomes for highly vulnerable infants and young children, and why such extra-strength programs and services are scarce. The paper then explores the ways in which social workers can engage at both the practice and the policy level to address inequality and other forms of injustice and ensure that these programs and services are sufficiently available to the young children and families who desperately need them.
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