The UAE gives top priority to the welfare of children in the age group of 0 to 8 years. Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Community Development, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Prevention are the federal entities that undertake protection of children.
At the federal level, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Community Development, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health and Prevention undertake protection of children.
Federal Authority for Early Childhood Education
Established in 2022, Federal Authority for Early Childhood Education specialises in early childhood education. It has a mandate to develop and implement comprehensive plans to follow up on child development from birth to the fourth grade.
Affiliated with the Cabinet, the entity is responsible for developing policies, strategies, legislations and programmes related to the education needs of the early childhood stage. It issues licences and monitors government and private nurseries in the UAE in coordination with the local authorities.
In Abu Dhabi, the following government entities support child welfare:
In Dubai, Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, and in Sharjah, Child Safety Department support child welfare.
Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) aims to create a high-quality early childhood development system in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It aims to include health and nutrition, child protection, family support, early care and education in its scope of work.
ECA defines early childhood as the period from when a baby is conceived to when he reaches eight years. Established in 2019, the entity is mainly responsible for the following:
As per the statistics published on the website of Ministry of Community Development, the number of nurseries in the UAE in 2014 was 497; they had 35,552 children registered. After the restructuring of the federal government in early 2016, licensing nurseries lies with Ministry of Education.
The childcare provider should be licensed to function so in accordance with the prevailing laws. A number of procedures and legislations are adopted to ensure the highest quality of nurseries, provided they are equipped in a manner that produces a pleasant setting satisfying the needs of children and stimulating their physical, intellectual, emotional and social development.
In addition, the childcare building should be a safe and healthy setting that comprises ample indoor and outdoor areas proportional to the number and ages of children. The provider must ensure safety and security against risks both indoor and outdoor and that all staff are fully aware of the safety and security requirements and procedures.
Regulations concerning nurseries
Many new mothers with government jobs are required to return to work when their children are as young as six weeks old, prompting many to resign or take long-term leave. In 2006, the UAE Cabinet addressed this issue by ordering all federal and local government departments with more than 50 women Emirati staff or where the women Emirati staff collectively have more than 20 children, to offer on-site nurseries.
The directive to establish on-site nurseries aims to support working women and lead them to be more productive by providing them the comfort of having their children in a facility close by which is safe and offers a nurturing environment.
Ministry of Community Development has two initiatives: Tawasul and Nemo for childcare. The Tawasul initiative aims at creating a means of communications with the children with autism and children who have problems communicating. Nemo, which is an upgraded version of Smart Growth for Early Childhood, aims at early detection of undernourished children under the age of five years. The benefits of the initiatives can be availed through the MOCD app available on iTunes and Android.
Ministry of Education defines the stage of early childhood to be between the ages of 45 days and four years. The UAE offers a wide variety of pre-school and early childhood education opportunities for children aged 0 to 4 years. Currently more than 120 early childhood education centres are registered in Dubai.
Educational centres dedicated for early childhood development and care
Dubai Early Childhood Development Centre provides family-focused, trans-disciplinary assessment and early intervention services to children (from birth to 6 years) with special needs and those prone to congenital abnormalities. In addition to that, it provides families and community with the appropriate support and educational services required. Read more about the services of Dubai Early Childhood Development Centre.
The Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) of Zayed University (ZU) is a facility which serves the educational development of young children. It operates on Abu Dhabi and Dubai campuses and serves children in the age group of 6 months to 4 years. Children at the centre are communicated to in English and Arabic.
The centre primarily serves the needs of those in the ZU community; the children of ZU faculty, staff and students. It is also open to other community members based on availability of spaces. The centre also acts as a lab school which supports the training of early childhood educators and serves as a research environment to study child development.
Learn how to support children with limited abilities or special needs (people of determination( during their early years.
The Wadeema Law makes a child entitled to breastfeeding and mandates health authorities to educate mothers on the importance of breastfeeding to raise a healthy child. In the federal government, working mothers are entitled to 2 hours' reduced working hours to nurse her child either at the beginning or at the end of the working hours. Such breaks are fully paid for. Read about health services and nutrition guidelines for those in the early childhood and later phase.