Fifty people from health, education, child care, recreation and developmental services, etc., including representatives from other children and youth planning tables in our region and Data Analysis Coordinators from across central and east Ontario, attended a presentation by Joanne Schroeder, lead author of “Communities for Children: Toolkit for Action,” on July 5th. Joanne is from BC and worked closely with esteemed Canadian researcher and early child advocate Clyde Hertzman before his death in February.
2006-2011 Early Development Instrument (EDI) results from across Hastings-Prince Edward show that a high percentage of children entering Kindergarten are not doing well in three of the five EDI domains: physical health and well-being, emotional maturity, and communication skills/general knowledge. Gross and fine motor skills and pro-social and helping behavior are key areas of concern. Language and cognitive development scores show the lowest vulnerability which may be attributed to past investment in programs and campaigns that encourage reading to your child. Not having an early years system makes a community-wide approach to reducing vulnerability important.
After reviewing successes in other areas, Joanne recommends the following best practices:
√ Develop strong “upper level” inter-sectoral leadership – comprised of those who have the authority to make decisions about the allocation of resources.
√ Focus on research – layer EDI results with other local research; e.g., talk to parents.
√ Redefine the school system by aligning it with early years development.
√ Address barriers to increase equitable access – balance that fine line between targeted and universal interventions.
The Children and Youth Services Network is setting up the “Kindergarten Students who are Developmentally at Risk” working group to address this priority action issue. The inaugural meeting, will take place on September 13th, 1:30-3:30pm. For those who wish to get involved in moving forward as a community towards reducing vulnerability in our children, please go to CONTACT US.