By Karen Majerly, Communications at Work and Beth Williams, Our Kids Network Communications Manager
As we carry on into October with managing the return to school – and work for some of us – in person or virtually, you can probably use a few more trusty tools to help families as they grapple with these uncertain circumstances. Now is the perfect time to get familiar with the resources on the Our Kids Network website – all there to support your vital work with Halton children, youth, and families.
Strengthening the capacity of the professional community
Let’s start with the centre of it all – the Our Kids Network community. As a collective impact network, OKN builds the capacity of community organizations that support children and their families. You are likely already familiar with OKN’s vision: All children and youth thrive! Be sure to review the full explanation of OKN’s renewed mission and role to fully understand how the network builds capacity in the professional community.
As a professional working with children and youth, you might know that OKN conducts and shares research, develops resources to help you achieve your goals, and brings people together to achieve collective impact. Collaboration and knowledge-sharing among organizations means everyone across the region – including you – is supported in their work toward the Halton 7, the ideal living conditions we want for kids and families.
Using data to plan and improve programs and services
Our Kids Network collects and shares research on what children and youth need to thrive. This trusted information can support your day-to-day work and planning. Visit the Research Resources section on the website to find a range of community reports, survey results, and planning tools that include neighbourhood-level data.
Make this your first stop to learn more about your neighbourhood and municipality, as well as how to interpret and use data to best plan and deliver services.
Upgraded Data Portal
OKN website users like you report that the new Data Portal 2.0 makes it even easier to find the data you need, then customize it to make your own maps, charts, and graphs.
The DP 2.0 contains Halton data from the 2003-18 Early Development Instrument survey, Kindergarten Parent Survey, and Tell Them From Me (TTFM) / OurSCHOOL survey, and includes the most recent health and Canada Census data.
Also in the Research Resources section, you can learn about the frameworks and strategies OKN uses to guide its work and support alignment.
One of these key elements is the Asset-Building Framework. And at the heart of asset-building sits meaningful relationships – the key to OKN’s and your work.
Visit the Building Relationships section to learn more about Developmental Assets and Family Assets, and definitely explore the popular Asset-Building Toolkit, full of information and inspiration to help you bring positive child and youth development into your own practice and work environment. In the Facilitator’s Library, you’ll find tools to help you present workshops such as “Everyone’s an Asset-Builder,” and conduct informative meetings to educate families.
Enhancing understanding of Indigenous Reconciliation
Explore the informative information available to help you increase your own and others’ understanding of Indigenous history and perspectives. Expand your own Indigenous literacy – an understanding of the culture, context, and rights of Indigenous people and the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples – and then share what you’ve learned with your colleagues and clients.
You may be particularly interested in viewing examples of Indigenous Land Acknowledgements and learning about how to determine territorial lands.
Take advantage of the OKN community and resources
You’re part of a community of organizations, agencies, and professionals across Halton that Our Kids Network strives to connect and support. Use the diverse OKN website resources to inform and inspire yourself and other professionals as you make your many positive contributions to the lives of young people and their families.
Thank you for your efforts and please reach out with your comments, questions, and ideas.
How These Findings Can Impact Your Work with Young Children and their Families
By Elisabeth Wells, Ph.D., Our Kids Network Research & Knowledge Broker
We know that early childhood development is an important determinant of health and wellbeing across the life course. In Halton, one of the ways we monitor the developmental progress of children is with the Early Development Instrument (EDI). This is a population-based tool used to assess children’s development in five key domains. A questionnaire completed by kindergarten teachers across Canada, it is also conducted in Australia, parts of the United States, and in Halton. It helps us understand how children are doing developmentally in the context of their community.
The EDI measures developmental health. This refers to a child’s ability to meet age appropriate developmental expectations in five domains: physical health and well-being; social competence; emotional maturity; language and cognitive development; communication skills and general knowledge. When children are vulnerable in these areas, they can struggle in school, with relationships and have poor health.
In 2018, 28.4% of Halton children aged five years were considered Developmentally Vulnerable on one or more EDI domains.
Our developmental vulnerability rate in 2018 is similar to our 2015 rates, yet it remains at an all-time historical high for Halton.
The 2018 vulnerability rate has stabilized to 28.4% since increasing from 23.8% in 2012 and to 28.1% in 2015.
In 2018, physical health and well-being is the developmental domain with the most vulnerability. The domain with the least vulnerability is language and cognitive development.
The EDI results provide important information about the developmental wellbeing and progress of our Kindergarten cohort in Halton. The next steps are to explore the findings, have conversations about what the results mean, and plan to work together to respond to these findings.
How to Use these Results in your Work to Support Early Childhood Development
Developmental vulnerability varies by geography. Some neighbourhoods see consistently high developmental vulnerability. For example, Acton has traditionally had some of the largest percentages of children developmentally vulnerable in Halton, as well as South Central Oakville and West Milton. Use the Community Profile and the OKN Data Portal 2.0 to explore the differences between neighbourhoods.
Examine EDI results at the local community level by including other pieces of data, such as the Kindergarten Parent Survey (KPS) results. Using multiple indicators as evidence of strengths and needs provides a more comprehensive picture of wellbeing.
Data Conversation tool with your team to talk about the results,
interpret what they mean and how
they relate to your programming and service delivery with children and
how Halton youth are doing? where are the fastest areas of growth in Milton? how many children under the age of 5 live in Burlington? what are the social demographics of Oakville neighbourhoods? if you should expand your program or what community should you try to reach? how to convince a funder about the needs of your neighbourhood?
By Elisabeth Wells, PhD, Our Kids Network Researcher & Knowledge Broker
Data is more than just numbers. It is about asking questions, telling stories and then inspiring action. For years, Our Kids Network has been using data to better understand the “why, when, where and how” of helping children and families do well. The original OKN Data Portal was designed to be another resource to help us access, visualize and use data to improve the lives of children, youth and families in Halton. Since 2014, Halton professionals have been using the Data Portal as a resource for program planning, resource allocation, to identify needs and to support funding applications and reports.
We’re excited to share that we have recently upgraded the Data Portal to version 2.0. This upgrade has the same features you know and enjoy using, but gives you more options and control. New and improved features include the complete customization of your maps, charts and graphs in the way you visualize your data. The streamlined and simplified look makes it easy to find the data you’re looking for, and work with it to tell even more compelling and meaningful stories about the children, youth and families of Halton.
You can continue to use the Data Portal 2.0 to better understand and interpret data. Ask questions, spark conversation, plan and design evidence-based services and program, and turn research into action.
Here are a few examples of how Halton professionals have been using the Data Portal 2.0:
Halton Region Children’s Services have used the original Data Portal at team meetings to respond to staff questions about their clients and service delivery, and to help visualize their caseloads.
The Neighbourhood Groups program used the Data Portal to explore their neighbourhood groups locations, and develop plans to address any gaps in programming. They looked at Early Development Instrument scores, neighbourhood demographics and the Map my Data feature to plot program participants.
Milton Community Resource Centre used the Data Portal to make a strong case for funding. They used the Map my Data feature and demographic data to demonstrate the need for transitional funding to convert a preschool room to a toddler room.
Burlington Public Library used the Data Portal to support collaboration and partnership with their community-led model of library service delivery. They explored OKN early years data and plotted schools and their branch locations to give staff a greater understanding of the schools within their catchment and the challenges and opportunities they face.
And of course, we’ve added our latest data from the Kindergarten Parent Survey, Tell Them From Me (TTFM) / OurSCHOOL elementary survey, and the latest Census data from Statistics Canada.
structure needs a strong foundation. The OKN Asset-Building
Toolkit is constructed of valuable resources and information that
have been used by Halton professionals for years in building Developmental
Assets. They’ve also used the toolkit to help families build Family Assets. Important
accomplishments, but we felt something was missing to make this work really concrete.
It was the Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework that steered us to a missing key ingredient – relationships. This important foundation focuses our attention on the central element of relationship building, which underpins the Developmental Assets and Family Assets work.
in Halton is grounded in relationships. Relationships with each other, our
children and youth, our families, and our communities, are the foundation of
successful interactions, interventions, programs and outcomes. We can build
assets more effectively and efficiently if we build meaningful relationships
teen expert with lived experience, supports this thinking in his story about
the power of one relationship in his life.
Leaders can consider the preconditions necessary in organizations for
relationships to thrive, and address barriers to building relationships by
summary from the Search Institute.
These examples are just three of
numerous new resources that have been added to the “relationships foundation” of the improved Asset-Building
Toolkit. Watch for a highlighted NEW! as you tour the website.
know use of the Asset-Building Toolkit is going up year after year? People in
Halton, Canada and well beyond, are accessing and using this comprehensive
resource that we built together.
We know about the power of relationships in Halton. In the spirit of continuous improvement, this NEW and IMPROVED toolkit gives us even more tools, ideas and resources to elevate relationships in our work.
Take some time to explore our renovated Asset-Building Toolkit and discover how you can use it in your work today.
This blog was distributed as the year-end message to our network in December. We can’t say thanks enough so here it is again for anyone who missed it in their inbox!
By Beth Williams, Our Kids Network Communications Manager
Our Kids Network people are creating a hopeful future for Halton children and youth. In 2018 we saw steady progress and it’s clear in our many initiatives and activities that, as a network, we are more connected and aligned in our work. We are intentional when putting knowledge into practice, and we are seeing the results in our data, planning and action going forward.
Thank you for your contributions throughout 2018. As Our Kids Network, we have much to be proud of and we can count on each other continue to be as involved and committed in 2019 as we were in 2018!
2018 Highlights: Our Kids Network’s Committees and Community-based Groups
2015-2016 Tell Them From Me / OurSCHOOL surveys give us important knowledge about the wellbeing of children and youth in Halton. ElementarySecondary
Youth Voices Matter! The North Oakville Youth Development Council (NOYDC), established by youth and aided by adult allies, engaged the community in creating positive change in the neighbourhood and beyond.
Asset-Builders Tell their Stories. Five Halton asset-builders tell their exceptional stories about what building assets means to them.
Learn much more about Our Kids Network on our website.
Wonderful community partners have made the Milton Hub the success that it is today.
Partnerships are what make our outreach into the community work. The Milton Hub’s partners come from the social service sector, not-for-profit sector, the faith community, the Town of Milton, the Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board. This amazing team of partners all share a strong interest in supporting the community and working together to better serve the children and families of Milton. This shared focus is what makes us a “backbone” community table.
Our team of Hub partners meet often to discuss programs that they themselves are running in support of the community, or to learn about programs run by other service providers. This way everyone is knowledgeable about all programs taking place in the community, so partners can better serve their cliental and avoid duplication.
A key aspect of our meetings is the resilient connections forged between agencies and partners that lead to further partnerships and potential programs. Our Kids Network and Halton agencies and organizations are unique in that a majority of agencies serving the community are so very willing to work together to identify issues. They plan and develop programs and then deliver them in unity. They are dedicated to working together rather than in their own individual funding silos. This makes for a better community for everyone – but most of all for our children, youth and families.
Crosstowne Community Church Building on Caring for the Milton Community
One of the Hub’s community partners is Crosstowne Community Church – a strong partner for many years. Each August, the Hub hosts a Backpack and Community BBQ program with Crosstowne, and this past August, we provided over fifty backpacks to children in need.
We’re excited about this November 10, when the Milton Hub will again host a winter clothing pop-up shop and coat drive in partnership with Crosstowne Church at “The Corner”, 100 Nipissing Rd., Unit 3. The focus of the pop-up and coat drive is newcomers to Milton and Canada, and community members accessing mental health support.
In the past two years, while the church organized the event, the Hub contributed its extensive community contact list to help spread the word and ensure the Hub team partner agencies let their clients know about the pop-up shop. As well, Hub partners, such as schools, helped acquire donations.
Last year’s events were well attended and many people in Milton were able to have and enjoy winter clothing that they are not able to afford.
This is only one wonderful example of the spirit of partnership at work in Milton!!