About Early Childhood Matters

Early Childhood Matters is the annual journal of the Van Leer Foundation. It has been published and distributed free of charge since 1998.

Vision and objectives

Early Childhood Matters aims to elevate key issues, spread awareness of promising solutions to support holistic child development and explore the elements needed to take those solutions to scale.

Who it is for

It is written to be accessible to a broad international audience of policymakers, advocates, civil society organisations, civil servants, practitioners and researchers.



Early Childhood Matters grew out of a newsletter first published in 1971 to keep the Foundation’s partners updated on each other’s news and broader developments “in the field of compensatory education for the culturally and socially deprived child”.


Over the years, reader surveys revealed that the newsletter was being used well beyond the Foundation’s network of partners: “for teaching/training, to spark off discussions, to share ideas”. In 1998 it was rebranded as Early Childhood Matters.


Initially, Early Childhood Matters was published twice per year and each issue addressed a theme, such as play, participation or violence. Since 2015, Early Childhood Matters has been published annually, covering advances in early childhood from the previous year.

Early Childhood Matters: themes over the years

Early Childhood Matters aims to reflect the interests and priorities of the broad community of advocates, policymakers, academics and practitioners whose work relates to the field of early childhood. These naturally evolve as contexts change and new research points towards new ways to support young children and their caregivers. The below graphics illustrate the main themes addressed in Early Childhood Matters articles over the years.

2023 Wellbeing Parenting Caregiving
2022 Behavioural science Parenting Caregiving Public spaces Digital tools
2021 Environment Air pollution Health Nature Displacement
2020 Covid-19 Mental health Digitalisation/adapting services Community Caregiving
2019 Air pollution Health and nutrition Inter-sectoral coordination Mobile technology Refugees
2018 Nurturing care Parenting Workforce Policy Cities
2017 Neuroscience Scaling Refugees Childcare Measurement
2016 Services Social support Scaling Education Health
2015 Brain Caregivers Parenting Health Education

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