Improving ECD Outcomes for HIV-Affected Children

Natalya Pyagay • 30 January 2018

Children have been a priority for the the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for many years. In 2011, the Foundation commissioned a survey of the landscape related to children affected by HIV and AIDS. The research and consultations revealed a gap in services for the youngest children age 0-5 years and indicated that Early Childhood Development (ECD) was not part of the mainstream HIV response, although growing evidence identifies the first 1,000 days as most sensitive for socio-emotional, language, cognitive development and physical development.

In the same year, the Foundation’s Board of Directors approved a five-year grantmaking strategy to address ECD for young children affected by HIV and AIDS – with a focus on improving cognitive, social and physical development outcomes.

Over the initial five-year period from 2012-2016, the Foundation’s Children Affected by HIV and AIDS Strategy focused on three programmatic emphases: 1) building the capacity of parents and caregivers to meet the developmental needs of their young children; 2) strengthening the capacity of community-based organizations; and 3) improving practice and policy via knowledge sharing.

A total of $51 million has been approved for investments in five focus countries in East and Southern Africa: Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. All five countries have high HIV prevalence rates and thus large numbers of HIV-affected children and families. A major lesson learned was the need to place more emphasis on reaching pregnant women and caregivers of very young children from birth through age 2 – during the first thousand days when brain development is most rapid and when stable, responsive caregiving is critical.

The Phase Two Strategy incorporates key learnings with the overall intention to address the key challenges to delivering high-quality interventions that are effective, scalable, and sustainable.

The next five years provide the opportunity to lay the groundwork for achieving the SDGs. The Foundation is eager to contribute to this endeavor, while ensuring that the most vulnerable children affected by HIV and AIDS are not left behind. Building on a successful initial Phase One, the Phase Two Young Children Affected by HIV and AIDS Strategy will aim to support a more focused, evidence-based approach to high-quality interventions targeting pregnant women and caregivers of the youngest children over the first 1,000 days, working through civil society and government systems and networks.

The Foundation's current grantees working on ECD for vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS include: 


The Sustainable Development Goals Philanthropy Platform (SDGPP or the Platform) is a global initiative that connects philanthropy with knowledge and networks that can deepen collaboration, leverage resources and sustain impact, driving SDG delivery within national development agenda.


Established as a global facilitator that enables strong partnerships between philanthropic organizations, the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses, and other stakeholders, SDGPP is led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) and supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ford Foundation, Brach Family Charitable Foundation, UN Foundation and many others.


SDGPP’s thematic focus in Kenya is built around Accelerating Early Childhood Development Impacts. For more information, please see our featured ECD report, a dedicated blog by SDGPP Kenya National Coordinator, and our Innovation Challenge initiatives.