Whole Child Development: A Commitment and a Responsibility

Kate Schuenke-Lucien is the Director of ACE Haiti and a member of the Measuring What Matters Learning Partnership, which the Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child (GC-DWC) chairs. Kate joined the GC-DWC’s Communications Associate, Anna Hart, for a conversation on how to communicate whole child development (WCD), with a specific look at Haiti based on ACE Haiti’s Strong Beginnings initiative. The following article is based on this interview.

Whole child development (WCD) approaches to education, family, and community programming in low-resource contexts can often be met with resistance due to common misconceptions over what WCD actually is and encompasses. The most salient of these misconceptions is that a WCD approach necessitates less focus on the development of academic skills, which is generally a priority for parents and donors alike. However, if you pause and begin to break it down, WCD becomes fairly intuitive and rational to stakeholders. It is about looking at a child and understanding the relationship between all of their needs and committing to recognizing the impact these needs have on one another. At a very basic level, WCD recognizes society’s commitment to children and their most basic needs: it is both a commitment and a responsibility. When broken down in this way, with details that a stakeholder can personally understand, most can get behind WCD; however, the task of communicating WCD remains a challenge and one that must be approached with great intentionality.

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