Using the power of research, relationships, and knowledge to help children, youth and families thrive now and in the future
The first year of our three-year Our Kids Network (OKN) development plan has come to an end and we’re seeing steady progress on our four priorities: Engagement, Knowledge Mobilization, System Navigation and Research. It’s clear in our initiatives and activities over the last year, that the network is more cohesive and more engaged. Committees and groups are evolving as needs are identified or change. We are becoming more intentional when putting knowledge into practice.
This is an exciting moment in our long history of collecting and sharing data. This year marks the first generation of children that have completed the OKN data cycle, over a twelve-year period. (Surveys are conducted every three years.) In total, 75,000 children, youth and families have participated in five OKN data cycles. This is invaluable to our mandate of evidence-based planning for children and families. There will be more exciting news on this milestone in 2017 as the community begins conversations on how to interpret and use the latest data to support children, youth and families in Halton.
This year in particular, the power of our relationships emerged as a driving force in how we meet challenges, solve problems and achieve success. We see this in Acton with the Early Years Project and local partners reacting to data that showed that a high number of children were starting school with vulnerabilities. It’s their strong relationships that empower the Acton Early Years team to continue to address these concerns on numerous levels with tangible benefits for children and families. We now have funding to expand this initiative into six additional neigbourhoods in Halton. This is a perfect example of the critical role relationships play in our success and growth.
From local groups planning family fairs to meetings with our elected officials, OKN knowledge is being shared and discussed across Halton. We see the Early Years Project team using data maps to stimulate discussion. @OurKidsNetwork is an important channel for knowledge transfer and engagement with stakeholders. Our partners at Halton Public Health ensure that each year the parents of Kindergarten students and students starting high school receive information packages to help with the transition. And these are only a few examples of how we’re intentionally making knowledge accessible, understandable and useful for professionals and families.
The OKN Collective Impact Report 2016 provides a snapshot of our collective action as we continue our focus on the Halton 7 (seven population outcomes) that are our common agenda. In the second year of our OKN network development plan, we will continue to identify needs and gaps, build on the activities of 2016, and will embark on some exciting new ones. It is you – our network of people – who advance this work, and I hope you will continue to stay involved and engaged in 2017.
On behalf of Our Kids Network, I wish you and your families the very best in the coming year!
Director, Our Kids Network