More than a quarter of Canadian children lack all the developmental assets they need by the time they reach kindergarten. This has effects on everything from children’s brain development to their success as adults.
In fact, Canada ranked last among industrialized countries on a UNICEF report card for early childhood development, meeting only one of its 10 benchmarks.
In response, kidSKAN’s (and SPHERU’s) Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine and Fleur Macqueen Smith have worked with Lynell Anderson and Martin Guhn of UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership and education consultant Monica Lysack to produce the Canadian Family Policy Assessment Tool. The aim is to provide a “made-in-Canada” assessment tool to monitor policies and set out near-term achievement indicators that promote children’s developmental health.
The tool was commissioned by the Quebec-based National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy (NCCHPP). The NCCHPP has just released the first in a series of fact sheets looking at different aspects of the report. It’s currently available through the NCCHPP website.
This first fact sheet outlines what is meant by “developmental health,” as well as how malleable the brain is in the first few years of a child’s life. The research team also presented a poster on the Assessment Tool at the Canadian Public Health Association's 2012 conference in Edmonton in June 2012, available here.
Other things covered in the fact sheet include:
• The social determinants that support children’s developmental health;
• Key indicators of children’s development outcomes in Canada;
• The long-term impacts of early years development; and
• The need for a family policy framework emphasizing education, care, services and supports, and guided by the principles of consistency, universal access, quality and adaptability to local contexts and culture.
The complete policy tool is scheduled to be released on the NCCHPP website in May 2012.
By Mike Chouinard, kidSKAN managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.