Credits Photo: UNICEF Argentina
Published on January 17, 2024

Early Childhood and Sustainable Development in Argentina

Before COVID-19, Argentina faced challenges regarding their lack of an early childhood care system. Access to quality care services was insufficient, with significant differences depending on where a child was born, the labour conditions of their parents, and their income level. The pandemic deepened these pre-existing social and economic inequalities and highlighted the care crisis.

Placing care policies at the centre of recovery plans was crucial to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty, ensuring the exercise of children's rights, improving the quality of life of society as a whole, and providing the State with more effective tools to bridge gender gaps.

The early childhood and sustainable development joint programme supported the Argentine Government in implementing the National Early Childhood Strategy (ENPI in Spanish), which focused on strengthening childcare services at national and sub-national levels and reducing the inequality gaps among the 5.2 million children, of which 2.7 million live in vulnerable communities. The programme supported increasing the investment for the ENPI and identifying consolidated investment gaps at national and provincial levels.

The flexibility of the UN Resident Coordinator, with the leadership of UNICEF, ECLAC, UNDP and ILO, has been instrumental in allowing the programme to adapt to changing needs amidst the pandemic, reorient resources and redesign activities while maintaining the original goal: to contribute to the design and implementation of comprehensive early childhood care policies with a gender perspective.


Almost 3,000 early childhood education and care services workers across four provinces were trained on the socioemotional impact of COVID-19 and the impacts of social distancing and social confinement on children, giving them tools to comfort and nurture them. Comprehensive Early Childhood Strategies are in place and de facto improving service provision across daycare centres across the country where the new curriculum focuses on child daycare centres being a place of belonging, affection, and care.

At the same time, the UN’s integrated policy support to the Government enabled the scale-up of public policies to improve the living conditions of vulnerable women and mothers and their young children.

The UN generated timely evidence to improve early childhood public policy decision-making and funding. This included an integrated system of ECD-related indicators to monitor policies and the development of the Federal Care Map to count and track the current supply of care services for early childhood (public and private) with geo-referenced information. Gathering evidence on the specific impacts of the pandemic on early childhood and on women (predominantly female single-headed households) to inform public-policy responses is strengthening innovative responses for ECD policy aimed at indigenous children living in rural areas. At a broader outcome level, improving childcare services and working conditions are raising awareness of the importance of a fairer and more equitable organisation of care across all vulnerable groups. 



The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.