Author(s): Arup and Bernard van Leer Foundation
The Proximity of Care Design Guide was developed by Arup and the Bernard van Leer Foundation to support the design and implementation of child- and family friendly interventions in vulnerable urban environments, with benefits for the entire community.
Currently, up to 1 billion people are estimated to live in informal settlements – hundreds of millions of them are children. Nearly half of the world’s 25.4 million refugees reside in cities, and 85% of these displaced people are being hosted in developing countries. 52% of the global refugee population are children, and 4.25 million of these refugee children are under the age of five. Furthermore, over 250 million children in developing countries are at risk of not attaining their developmental potential.
In these areas, the needs of the youngest and most vulnerable often go unheard in decision-making and planning. This is critical as the shape of cities and urban settlements increasingly determines children’s health, lives and their futures.
The early years of a child’s life are crucial for healthy physical and mental development. Neuroscience research demonstrates that a child’s experiences with family, caregivers and their environment provide the foundation for lifelong learning and behaviour.
To develop to their full potential, babies and toddlers require not only the minimum basics of good nutrition and healthcare, clean air and water and a safe environment; they also need plenty of opportunities to explore, to play, and to experience warm, responsive human interactions.
For young children to make the most of their surrounding environment, those places need to cater to age-relevant developmental needs, while providing affordances and barrier-free access for caregivers.