Survival Program

What is Early Childhood Development?

Early childhood development (ECD) refers to the holistic development of a child from birth to age eight. It goes beyond education to encompass all aspects of a child’s early learning and brain development, including physical, socio-emotional, cognitive, and motor development.

Why is Early Childhood Development Important?

Early childhood development is critical to helping children develop into healthy and fulfilled adults. From time in utero, through infancy and the toddler years, and then into preschool and the elementary classroom, a child’s developmental needs – and the way those needs are responded to – shape the rest of his or her life.

Young children are especially vulnerable during their early years because they are fully reliant on caregivers for proper nutrition, safety, health care, emotional attunement, and survival.

Without proper support and attention from caregivers, a child's brain development is stunted, early learning is hindered, developmental milestones are missed, and a child can suffer from preventable disabilities, illnesses, and even death.

6.2 Million
under 15 years old, died from mostly preventable causes in 2018

5.3 Million
died from mostly preventable causes in 2018

2.5 Million
died in their first month of life in 2018

Sources: World Health Organization

Why Do We Care about Early Childhood Development?

The most effective way to ensure children receive the care and attention they need to survive and thrive is to begin in the earliest stages of childhood. Health care and proper nutrition provided to young children and their caregivers, helps the children survive their most vulnerable early years...and days.

Paying special attention to a child's development early in life sets the child up for success. Focusing on early childhood development equips children with the skills they need to succeed and thrive as they age. By providing opportunities at a young age, healthy development of all aspects of the child are encouraged — spiritually, physically, socially, emotionally, and even economically. Through our holistic child development model, we begin assisting children in poverty, in some cases, when the child is still in the womb, and we continue helping all the way through young adulthood. Our approach to helping children develop begins in early childhood, but is a long-term, whole-life approach that changes as a child’s needs change.

What is Our Approach to Early Childhood Development?

We tailor our approach to child development to the child's age, gender, health, culture and family situation. From pregnancy to the time a child becomes a toddler, Compassion Survival, our program to address the critical needs of babies and mothers, provides nutrition and health care and services that teach caregivers how to provide pre-natal and early childhood care.

In addition, Compassion Survival offers educational opportunities to help moms learn a skill or trade that can help support the family, and it provides regular checkups to assess child health and needs.

Then, at age 1, a toddler can be enrolled in our Child Sponsorship Program, which expands upon the early childhood education and developmental focus of Survival and helps children continue to grow and reach development milestones.

15 Million
are born preterm every year

die every day

age 5 to 14 die every day

Sources: World Health Organization

How does Compassion Survival Help Children and Families in Poverty?

Poverty strips a child of so many things the rest of the world often takes for granted. Proper nutrition, sanitation, health care, and safety – each one of these things needs to be present and needs to be addressed for a child to develop in healthy manner. But for poor children, they’re often absent.

When young children are properly cared for and have the chance to behave like children, growing and devloping naturally without the oppressive effects of poverty, they are freer, less full of worry and anxiety, and more hopeful about the future. They are able to dream and to prepare and learn the skills they need to pursue their dreams.

Through early education efforts, young children grow to know they are loved. Their self-esteem and self-confidence blossom. They become more willing and able to take the healthy risks necessary to learn, grow, and develop.

Our ECD initiative, Compassion Survival, helps strengthen and nurture unborn children, babies, infants, and toddlers, as well as the parents and/or primary caregivers through four key strategies.

Home-based Care

Mothers are visited monthly in their homes by a Survival specialist, who offers education in prenatal care and early child-rearing as well as one-on-one biblical mentoring with parents. The Survival specialist makes sure that the baby's basic needs are met, including clean water, healthy food, vitamins, milk, immunizations, and diapers.

Group-based Learning Activities

Parents can receive basic education and income-generation training to combat long-term poverty and combat isolation through a supportive com¬munity of mothers.

Advocacy for Moms

Assistance that provides and secures funding for medical treatments, ensures mothers are treated fairly by local services and arranges for birth attendants to assist mothers during childbirth.

Survival Centers

Staff help coordinate outreach and care, parenting workshops, and one-on-one coaching that create a safe place and comfortable opportunities for new mothers to learn and grow, all while monitoring and supporting healthy child development.

Donate to Compassion Survival

You can make a difference in the lives of infants, toddlers, and young mothers by donating to Compassion Survival. Help us come alongside expectant and new mothers, teaching and mentoring them on how to be the best caregivers they can be, and supporting mothers and young children through the most vulnerable years of a child’s life. Make a donation today.

Give With Confidence

With Compassion, your donation is used wisely to help children around the world.

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Have Questions About Compassion and How We Work?

Donating to a charity is an important decision. So when you’re passionate about a cause and want to make a difference, we encourage you to do your research. Compassion is 100% committed to financial integrity, stewardship and using each dollar wisely. If you have any questions about Compassion or exactly how your donation will be used, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


"Newborns: Reducing Mortality." World Health Organization, 19 Sept. 2019,

"Preterm Birth." World Health Organization, 19 Feb. 2018,

"Children: Reducing Mortality." World Health Organization, 19 Sept. 2019,

"Mortality Among Children Aged 5-14 Years." World Health Organization, 23 Sept. 2019,


Please call us at 800-336-7676, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT, to speak with a Compassion representative.