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BRIEFJanuary 8, 2024

Invest in Childcare


Invest in Childcare

Driving more and better-quality investments in childcare to improve outcomes for women, children, families, businesses and economies.

In 2022, the World Bank Group launched the Invest in Childcare initiative to drive investments in quality, affordable childcare.  

Expanding access to quality, affordable childcare is among the most important investments that countries can make to build human capital, accelerate equality, and place women and children at the center of economic growth.

Over 40 percent of children globally—or nearly 350 million—below primary-school-entry age need childcare but do not have access to it. The childcare challenge disproportionately impacts families in low and lower-middle-income countries.


Invest in Childcare2, launched in 2022, is an ambitious cross-sectoral work program that strategically addresses the childcare challenge through research, major new data collection, policy changes and new operational approaches that can work at scale.    

  • At the country level, the initiative supports countries to make the case for childcare and design and implement quality projects that maximize benefits for women, children, families businesses and economies. This includes country grants, technical assistance to World Bank country teams and capacity building opportunities. 
  • At both the global and country level, the initiative engages in analytical work, including impact evaluations, data collection efforts and the development of new tools and guidance that help address knowledge gaps, build the evidence base, inform programming and serve as global public goods.

This work program supports the delivery of the new IDA20 policy commitment on childcare (“to support at least 15 IDA countries to expand access to quality, affordable childcare, especially for low-income parents”).  

Invest in Childcare is supported by the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany and the United States; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Echidna Giving; the Hewlett Foundation; and the LEGO Foundation. Combined, these pledges will catalyze at least $180 million in new funding to ensure quality, affordable childcare in available in low- and middle-income countries worldwide. We are also working closely with other multilaterals, civil society organizations and academia to ensure we build on the great work many organizations and partners have been leading in this space. Regular consultations are held to share updates and gather feedback. 

Working together, we can help governments meet five key policy goals to ensure quality, affordable childcare is available for all families that need it and secure better jobs and brighter futures:

Women employment

1 Childcare refers to a service with the primary objective of caring for children while parents are working (or otherwise unavailable). Quality childcare should ensure children are safe and have opportunities to learn and develop positive relationships with caregivers and peers. Childcare provision mostly caters to children from birth up to primary-school-entry age (typically up to age 5-6) but can include after-school care. Childcare can be provided in different settings and financed through various modalities. It may be called various names in different contexts, but tends to fall into three categories: (i) center-based care (e.g. daycares, nurseries, crèches, etc.); (ii) home-based care (either care by someone in the child’s own home or care provided for a group of children in a caregiver’s home); and (iii) family and other informal arrangements (which may or may not be remunerated). Although the primary objective of preschool is to prepare children for primary school, it can also serve a childcare function if designed with consideration for the needs of working parents (e.g. offering full-day, as opposed to half-day, services).

2Invest in Childcare is an initiative of the World Bank’s Early Learning Partnership (ELP) Trust Fund (ELP is associated to the Foundational Learning Compact  Trust Fund). The work is coordinated by the World Bank’s Early Learning Partnership (ELP), working with a cross-sectoral working group of WBG staff, which provides strategic direction and guidance. The working group includes members from Education, Gender, Social Projection and Jobs, Human Capital Project team, Health, Nutrition and Population, Poverty, Skills and Jobs and ECD Global Skills Groups, along with various research and survey units (Women Business and the Law, DEC, DIME, SIEF, Gender Innovation Labs, ECD Measurement) and IFC. In addition, various World Bank Group teams lead on specific pieces of work.

Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024