By Elisabeth Wells, PhD, Our Kids Network Research and Knowledge Mobilization Manager
The Halton Youth Impact Survey is our opportunity to understand how our young people are doing, and how decision-makers can support young people in our communities.
Halton was invited to participate in the UNICEF Canada Child & Youth Wellbeing Survey (Halton Youth Impact Survey), supported by UNICEF Canada, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, Medivae Foundation, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Halton is one of four communities participating in this project, which will be used to develop a national index of child and youth wellbeing. OKN is leading the implementation of the survey here in Halton and helping UNICEF build a survey that will be used across Canada.
Important NEW data
Our community has been facing a gap in comprehensive, local data about child and youth wellbeing. The Halton Youth Impact Survey provides an opportunity for OKN and Halton to collect and share new, quality, local data and evidence to support the delivery of programs, services, policies and initiatives that are critical to the wellbeing of children, youth and families in Halton.
The survey is for children between 9 and 18 years-old. It measures key factors related to child and youth development and wellbeing, such as connection to family, schools, community and peers, physical and mental health, participation in extracurricular activities, safety and leisure, and risk behaviours such as smoking and drug use.
OKN is deeply committed to making data free and accessible to anyone who wants to use it. We will use the data to support the needs of all of our community partners working with young people. We expect to start sharing the results back with the community in late Fall through various learning events, reports, webinars, workshops, community presentations and in the data portal. Not only will we be sharing the results, but we will be providing tools and resources to help professionals access and use the results to support their work.
By the community, for the community
We built this survey with you and for you. The survey content, and the promotional strategy, have largely been developed by our community partners. Over the last few months, we reached out and met with numerous professionals and youth to ensure your voices are at the center of the project. Through these meetings, we heard loud and clear about how our community partners are supporting youth engagement, and how critical it is to have new data about youth wellbeing. Read about how our community partners are planning to use the results from the survey!
There are just over 76,000 youth in Halton between 9 and 18 years of age. My goal is to hear from as many of our young people as possible. We need many diverse youth voices from across Halton to participate so we can learn what life is like for youth right now. We have 27 different neighbourhoods in Halton, and we know that each community is unique. That’s why we want to hear from youth across Halton – tell us about your community and what wellbeing means to you in Acton, East Milton, South East Oakville or Aldershot, for example. We want all youth to have a strong voice in the project so that, ultimately, they will have a strong voice in the programs, services and initiatives that impact them in their communities.
To help us do that, our peer-to-peer engagement strategy was developed in partnership with the Halton Youth Initiative through youth labs, community meetings and the creation of our Halton Youth Impact Ambassador team. Youth are promoting the survey in their own networks, and our team Ambassadors are leading this campaign.
Make an IMPACT! Help us get the word out!
The campaign runs until Monday, June 14. As a professional working with children and youth in Halton, we know you want to have a positive impact on the lives of young people in our communities. You can make a difference by encouraging youth in your networks to do the survey and have a say in matters that effect them. The Community Partner Promotional Kit is full of information about the survey and resources to use in promoting it. Download your kit from Dropbox or Google Drive or visit the Halton Youth Impact Survey webpage.
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