The Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at the University of British Columbia conducts population-level research on child development across BC. A key research tool is the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a questionnaire that is completed by kindergarten teachers throughout the province for all children in their classes. The EDI measures five core areas of early child development known to be good predictors of adult health, education and social outcomes.
Over the years, the data are showing an overall downward trend in EDI scores, particularly in the areas of social competence and emotional maturity. This reflects an increased vulnerability to poor developmental outcomes among BC’s children.
A provincial scan commissioned by the Cross Ministry Early Years Advisory Group on Social/Emotional Wellbeing identified potential opportunities to increase the province’s capacity for promoting social/emotional health and development in the early years. This includes:
1. Developing a conceptual framework
2. Identifying current programs, based on research that fit within the framework
3. Engaging in social/emotional development literacy campaign
4. Providing coordinated and evidence based training
Child Health BC is the secretariat for the BC Healthy Child Development Alliance (the Alliance), a cross-sectoral coalition of more than 40 organizations in BC. The Alliance developed a training toolkit and materials for providers that focus on healthy social-emotional development of infants and toddlers. The materials have been incorporated into provincial resources and programs such as the Growing Together Toolkit, Healthy Families BC, the GP Practice Support Program Child & Youth Mental Health Module, and Family Resource Programs.
Child Health BC is also actively involved in responding to the identified opportunities for increasing BC’s capacity for promoting social-emotional health and development in the early years.