In these unprecedented times, we hope you are keeping safe and well. While social distancing has become the new normal, it is gratifying to see people finding creative ways to continue supporting children, youth and families. Our strong communities will get us through this. OKN staff members are currently working from home. We continue to focus on support for service providers and organizations that provide services to children, youth and families.
It is National Indigenous History Month and We are Celebrating!
By Angela Bellegarde, Our Kids Network Indigenous Lead
June is one of the best months of the year! Children and youth look forward to summer and celebrate the end of school. Families look forward to vacations and engaging in outdoor pursuits. This year, Canadians are faced with an entirely new way of spending the summer months, so how about taking the opportunity to discover and learn more about the Indigenous people of Canada?
So where do you start?
Canada.ca The Government of Canada website National Indigenous History Month section is a good place to begin your journey. Make your first stop at the Indigenous History-Makers section and meet Métis author, Cherie Dimaline, Jesse Cockney, an Olympic Inuvialuk cross-country skier, and Dr. Nadine Caron, a member of the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation and Canada’s first female First Nations general surgeon…and many more. These amazing individuals are just a few of the innumerable Indigenous people making Canada and the world a better, more interesting and more creative place to live.
ourkidsnetwork.ca The Our Kids Network website Indigenous Reconciliation section is another great place to look for resources. Want to do a territorial announcement at your next meeting or event? We have a whole section to assist you. (Scroll to the bottom of the page.)
This just the beginning, friends!
In the coming weeks, Our Kids Network will be engaged in many activities to help you learn more about our Indigenous Reconciliation Initiative.
Check your inbox frequently for new messages. Follow us on Twitter @OurKidsNetwork. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our blog to learn about the exciting ways Our Kids Network is celebrating National Indigenous History month!
Halton Providers Can Use the Early Development Instrument (EDI) to Coordinate and Integrate their Work with Young Children & Families
By Elisabeth Wells, Ph.D., Our Kids Network Research & Knowledge Broker
Typically, when we talk about Early Development Instrument results, we talk about the number and/or percent of children who are considered developmentally vulnerable. Percent vulnerable means the percent of children who are struggling in one or more areas of a particular domain or subdomain of the EDI. For example, in Halton 28.4% of kindergarten children in 2018 were vulnerable on one or domains, and 12.6% were vulnerable on two or more domains.
How to Determine and “Turn the Curve” on Key Issues
Come together with partners across sectors to talk about the findings as they relate to your work, and identify gaps and where you might get started. Based on these conversations, you will determine which issues you need to act upon. This is referred to as “turning the curve.” This means taking action on findings that reflect a negative trend in order to turn the trend or curve in a more positive direction. The following is an easy tool designed by Mark Friedman, developer of Results Based Accountability (www.raguide.org) that can move you from talk to action in 45 to 60 minutes. Try using this tool as a way to discuss the results in the Community Profile.
The Early Years Initiative – Using Data to Create Criteria and a Plan
The Early Years Initiative is an example of collective impact to promote early childhood development and reduce the percentage of children who are developmentally vulnerable in Halton. The initiative operated in 6 neighbourhoods that were identified by studying risk factors, EDI data, and other neighbourhood level data and information. Six local community groups and worked together to plan and develop resources that are most needed and supported at the local level to address early children development and transition to school.
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
By Melissa Graves, Health Promoter, Halton Region; Our Kids Network Early Years Mental Health Committee Member
Along with all the fun of trading Valentine cards, paper hearts, and enjoying treats, Valentine’s Day is also a great opportunity to think about and celebrate what we love, appreciate, and value in the important relationships in our lives. It can also bring to mind how those relationships develop.
It All Starts in the Early Years
Developing skills for healthy and strong relationships begins in the early years, by laying the foundation for expressing a range of emotions and healthy social-emotional development.
The foundations of social competence that develop in the first six years of life are linked to emotional well-being and affect a child’s ability to form successful relationships throughout life. As a child develops into adulthood, these same social skills are essential for lasting friendships; healthy intimate relationships; effective parenting; the ability to have successful relationships in the workplace; and to contribute to the well being of the community. (Centre on the Developing Child Harvard University, 2004)
Early Experiences are Important to Mental Health
Research has also shown that early experiences shape the developing brain and underpin an individual’s mental health and well-being. The social-emotional skills developed in the first six years of a child’s life are linked to their later success in school, work and ability to form healthy relationships.
Watch this video by the Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University about serve-and-return interactions. It illustrates how to use this strategy to strengthen positive interactions between caregivers and children, and shows how caregivers can use everyday moments to build relationships that also foster social competence.
By Siobhan Laverdiere, Initiative Project Coordinator and Lily Viggiano, Youth Asset-Builder, Halton Youth Initiative
The Halton Youth Initiative connects youth and adult community members in Aldershot, Acton, and through local youth-lead committees. The North Oakville Youth Development Council served as a resource and model for this work.
Meaningful relationships are the foundation of asset-building in Halton. They are the key ingredient to our work with youth, communities and each other. One key aspect of this work is to give youth a voice. And one way we do this is through the Developmental Relationships (DR) framework.
When sharing the framework with the youth committees, we asked the question, “What do youth want adults to know?” This question is an excellent conversation starter to introduce both youth and adults to the 5 dimensions of Developmental Relationships: Express Care, Challenge Growth, Provide Support, Share Power, and Expand Possibilities.
Guided by the DR framework, the four committees’ common goals are to:
strengthen assets in youth.
build meaningful relationships between youth and adults (adult allies on the committees, but also adults in the wider community such as neighbours, teachers, coaches, youth workers).
connect youth with their community through various neighbourhood-focused projects.
Acton: Youth Want Adults to Know that Tone and Style of Behaviour Counts
The Acton committee is called the “Seven Somebodies”. Current membership is more than 7 youth, but the young members think the name is cool and decided to keep it as their numbers grew. This group focused on the tone and the style with which adults can control young people. They talked about how they felt adults did or did not Express Care.
There were discussions about how they will tune in to adults who acknowledge their presence, seem happy to see them, and have a good sense of humor – especially in moments of stress. They noted that a smile and warm welcome goes a long way to effect the overall tone of groups. They said that adults must find creative and upbeat ways of shutting down undesirable group behaviour, such as disruptions and staying on topic. These youth felt that they want adults to be in charge, but also be aware of their power to set the tone for the group.
“I can tell when adults go the extra mile, and it means a lot to me. Jenna, Seven Somebodies committee member
Aldershot: Survey Says…Tune into How We Feel and Take Action!
The Aldershot Youth Crew established in April 2019, wanted to pose the question “What do youth want adults to know?” to the larger community of youth. So on September 14, at Alderfest, an annual neighbourhood-building event, our team members took up their clipboards and interviewed 56 local youth.
The results reflected two DR dimensions: Provide Support and Expand Possibilities:
Youth need their voices heard in their households, classrooms, and community.
Give youth more freedom to explore their community and interests.
Kids are awesome!
Tune into how we feel and take action.
“My older cousin takes me to Halton Conservation parks and always points out the signs and information. She tries to teach me new things even though she doesn’t have to. That’s how I know she cares” Chase M., Aldershot Youth Crew member
Milton: See the Best in Us!
The Milton Youth Action Team discussed what they wish adults (in particular program coordinators and volunteer managers) knew about young people. This team wants adults to see the best in them; to see their ability to take advantage of opportunities and to leverage adults’ wisdom and experience to help young people. These statements reflect the Provide Support and Share Power DR dimensions.
“In terms of ideas, youth are good at coming up with ideas and need some authority to make it happen. Adults and youth are a powerful combination – youth power the ideas and adults can make it happen” Rayyan, Milton Youth Action Team committee member
North Oakville: Support and Guide, but Give Us Our Space Too!
The North Oakville Youth Development Council (NOYDC) started in June 2017 and paved the way for the other developing youth councils in our other communities.
In discussions about support and guidance, Daniella a NOYDC member, explained that young people want adults to show that they care about youth and are there to support them. Youth welcome support and guidance but also want personal space to figure out for themselves what they want to do.
Expressing Care and Expanding Possibilities are reflected here. In the discussions with young people at the North Oakville Youth Development Council, they said that expressing care could also be about providing youth with the space they need to think things through in order to form their own identities and perspectives.
“As a youth, I would like adults to know that youth value their community and want to help assist in its proceedings. They like participating in political discussions and love being able to share their opinions, especially if people are willing to listen.” Hargun, North Oakville Youth Development Council member