Global displacement

Since 2017, the Bernard van Leer Foundation has been working to support young children (aged 0-5) and caregivers affected by crisis and displacement. We originally focused on supporting Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon. In 2020, we established Jordan as a core country and created the Global Displacement portfolio to expand our focus on families affected by displacement.

Displacement refers to people who have been forced from their home by causes such as persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order. As defined by the UNHCR, diplacement includes refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs (internally displaced people – that is, people displaced within their own country) and Venezuelans displaced abroad.

Evidence indicates that early childhood services – including those that support and guide parents, caregivers and families in times of crisis – can mitigate the negative effects of trauma and stress on young children and promote resilience and wellbeing. Although more than one in five babies start their lives in situations of conflict, such services are lacking in crisis situations across the globe.

Photo: Courtesy of Joel Carillet (via iStock)

The Global Displacement portfolio identifies and supports examples of good practice in early years programmes and policies in crisis contexts globally – including but not limited to our current country programmes – and incorporate insights into advocacy to scale up support for displaced families everywhere. These include a focus on the period between pregnancy and age 3, approaches that are truly integrated into sectors with potential to scale, and innovations in how aid is organised and delivered.

The team has two main streams of work:

Scalable programmes and policies

We build new and support existing partnerships to scale up support to caregivers of children aged 0-3 in different crisis contexts, by working with programme implementers, policymakers, humanitarian agencies and other funders.

Examples of our work include a learning partnership with Refugee Trauma Initiative in Greece on scaling up their refugee-led Baytna approach through a hub of grassroots organisations; exploring opportunities to integrate Kangeroo Mother Care for premature babies into maternal and child health provision in humanitarian contexts; and working with major implementing organisations to mainstream their proven early years approaches in crisis contexts.

Credits: Photo courtesy of Bagher Maghsudi

We are also working with partners to strengthen our response to the Venezuelan crisis in various Latin American countries.

Early Years Thought Leadership

We share learnings and participate in joint advocacy activities to increase financing and improve policies and leadership to support the youngest children and their caregivers in humanitarian response globally. Our main platform is the Moving Minds Alliance. Originally established in 2017 by a group of philanthropic foundations, today Moving Minds Alliance is a multi-stakeholder partnership combining programmatic, funding and research expertise to support prioritisation of the youngest refugees and their caregivers.

Currently only an estimated 3% of total development assistance to crises-affected countries, and 2% of humanitarian funding, goes towards providing quality early years services to newborns, young children and their caregivers affected by crisis. A 2018 review of 26 active humanitarian response plans showed only 10% of recommended responsive caregiver interventions were included in the plans.