The Bernard van Leer Foundation is a private grant-making foundation. Our mission is to improve opportunities for children up to age 8 who are growing up in socially and economically difficult circumstances. We see this both as a valuable end in itself and as a long-term means to promote more cohesive, considerate and creative societies with equal opportunities and rights for all. 

Latest news from the Bernard van Leer Foundation

Webinar on Responsive Parenting 10-07-2014

Three authors from the latest edition of Early Childhood Matters - Jennifer Lansford (the Better Parenting Programme in Jordan), Adrienne Burgess (Reaching out to fathers: ‘what works’ in parenting interventions?) and Catherine Ward (Parenting for Lifelong Health: from South Africa to other low-and middle-income countries) - present their articles in this hour-long webinar, which includes an audience Q&A. You can also download the webinar presentation

New corporate Twitter account 10-07-2014

The Bernard van Leer Foundation has just launched a brand new corporate Twitter account! Follow us @BvLFoundation to stay updated on the latest news regarding our Foundation.

Join our webinar on Responsive Parenting 30-06-2014

Join us for the Early Childhood Matters webinar on Responsive parenting as a strategy to prevent violence, coming July 10th.

Further to the newest published edition of Early Childhood Matters, a webinar will be held that features brief presentations and Q&A opportunities with three authors of articles in this edition:

- Jennifer E. Lansford, Research Professor, Duke University Centre for Child and Family Policy;
- Adrienne Burgess, Joint CEO and Head of Research, Fatherhood Institute;
- Catherine L. Ward, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Safety and Violence Initiative, University of Cape Town.

This webinar will take place on July 10th, 2014:
16:00 hrs - 17:00 hrs (Amsterdam local time)
10:00 hrs - 11:00 hrs (New York, USA)
19:30 hrs - 20:30 hrs (Delhi, India)

To register please click here.

Early Childhood Matters on responsive parenting 23-06-2014

ECM 122 cover imageThe new edition of the Bernard van Leer Foundation's biannual journal, Early Childhood Matters, addresses the theme of responsive parenting, and in particular the potential for responsive parenting programmes to reduce the incidence of violence against young children.

Download the pdf, read online at, or request your free printed copy now.

Accelerating the New Macho 16-06-2014

As players stride onto the pitch at the World Cup in Brazil this month, they will enter hand-in-hand with a child. Kids have become the brand of one of the most competitive global sports. The iconic FC Barcelona even sports the UNICEF logo on its jerseys.

This is one example of how men who have historically been symbols of toughness are embracing a new archetype of manliness—one in which they care for their kids, are sensitive with their partners, and share power without losing respect. A “new macho” is emerging, and change is spreading. A 2013 Pew Research study on the “new American father” illustrates several examples.

There is still a long way to go. Traditional stereotypes of strong men—dominant, physically forceful, unemotional—still perpetuate problems such as sexual assault, domestic violence, and bullying. However, rather than focusing on bad behavior, social change leaders should be looking for answers in the experience of the tough guys who are changing.

What motivates men who embody the new macho, and how can we combine the answers with new insights from behavioral science to accelerate the transformation?

Read the complete article by Lisa Witter & Michael Feigelson on the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

The Jamaican Study: Investing in the early years pay off 02-06-2014

It's a sad fact that children born in poverty start out at a disadvantage and continue to fall further behind kids who are more privileged as they grow up. But a new analysis of a long-term study in Jamaica shows that surprisingly simple ways of stimulating children’s mental development can have dramatic benefits later in life.

The children were participants in the Jamaican Study, a project geared towards improving cognitive development begun in the mid-1980s by child health specialists Sally Grantham-McGregor of University College London and Susan Walker of the University of the West Indies, Mona, in Jamaica. They focused on children between the ages of 9 and 24 months whose growth was stunted, placing them in the bottom 5% of height for their age and sex (an easy-to-quantify gauge of extreme poverty). Children of normal height in the same neighborhoods were also studied for comparison. For 2 years, community health workers visited the families weekly. One group was given nutritional assistance only (a formula containing 66% of daily recommended calories, along with vitamins and minerals). One group received a mental and social stimulation program only, and one group got stimulation and nutritional assistance. A final group had no intervention and served as a control.

Follow-up studies over the next 20 years revealed that the Jamaican children who received the mental stimulation had better grades and higher IQs, showed fewer signs of depression, and got in fewer fights. The new study, reported online in Science, focused on the children's economic achievement as young adults. Gertler, Grantham-McGregor, Walker, and colleagues tracked down 105 out of the original 129 growth-stunted children. Those who had received the stimulation intervention had earned 25% more than the children in the control group. Even more exciting, Gertler notes, is that they had closed the gap—in physical and economic stature—between themselves and children in their neighborhoods with normal height and weight. Adding nutritional assistance to the mental stimulation didn’t improve outcomes any further, and nutritional assistance on its own had no effect—likely because this kind of intervention must be used before a child’s growth has been stunted, Gertler says. "Mental and social stimulation at around 1 year of age really matter," Gertler says. "It was enough to reduce and possibly eliminate inequality in the long term." Gertler emphasizes that the interventions were inexpensive, consisting of toys, books, and conversation—not pricey, high-tech gadgets like iPads, for example.

"Investing in the early years pay off," Joan Lombardi, Senior Advisor of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, says. "It's time to translate this growing science into improved policies and new investments in young children and their families around the world."

Read the complete article in Science Magazine.

Prevention of child abuse in municipalities in the Netherlands not enough? 21-05-2014

Municipalities in the Netherlands are not doing enough to prevent child abuse, according to a research report presented today by Children's Ombudsman Marc Dullaert.

One of the report's recommendations is for municipalities to use the Kind Veilig Preventiepakket (Child Safety Prevention Package), developed by the Bernard van Leer Foundation in partnership with Augeo and Stichting Kinderpostzegels, which gives them support and guidelines about how to fulfil their duties with regard to the prevention of child abuse.

Part of this package is the Monitor Aanpak Kindermishandeling (Monitor on the Approach to Child Abuse), created by Het Nederlands Jeugdinstituut (The Dutch Youth Institute) and commissioned by the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The Monitor is a management tool for municipalities to track the effects of their policies and compare their performance with that of other municipalities.

You can find the report of the Children’s Ombudsman (in Dutch) here.

For more information on the Monitor Aanpak Kindermishandeling, please visit the website of Het Nederlands Jeugdinstituut.

The effect of the Klokhuis-episodes on child abuse 21-05-2014

The four Klokhuis-episodes (a famous Dutch TV-show for children) on child abuse which aired last year, the corresponding school curriculum and the website on child abuse have stimulated the communication about this topic amongst children. One of the other effects is that children recognize the different forms of child abuse better and that they have contacted the Kindertelefoon (a phone help line for children in the Netherlands) more often.

These are some of the conclusions from the report ‘Are children taking the floor? Effect evaluation of Het Klokhuis on child abuse’, that is handed to (mayor of Amsterdam and president of the Taskforce on Child Abuse) Eberhard van der Laan and to Kim van Laar (one of the main characters of the Klokhuis-series) today during the International European Congres on Child Abuse and Neglect (EUCCAN).

The effect of the episodes and curriculum is researched by Trimbos-Institute, commissioned by the Bernard van Leer Foundation. More information about the research can be found on the website of Trimbos-Institute.

The full report (in Dutch) can be downloaded here.

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