Thursday
Mar262015

Success By 6 Hosts Energizing Day of Linking and Leveraging

On February 19th, 2015, Success By 6® Edmonton hosted early childhood professionals from the Alberta Capital Region for a day of linking and leveraging.  The group of 50 represented a continuum of supports for children; including early caregivers and educators, home visitors, government officials, funders, health care and mental health professionals, researchers and early intervention specialists.  The focus for the day was exploring how as a province we can build adult capacity to support children’s social and emotional development.

Healthy social-emotional development in young children or early childhood mental health includes the ability to:

  • Form and sustain positive relationships
  • Experience, manage, and express emotions
  • Explore and engage with the environment

The foundations of social competence which are developed in the first five years of life affect a child’s later ability to functionally adapt in school, form lasting relationships, become an effective parent, hold a job, work well with others, and become a contributing member of society. (Centre on the Developing Child Harvard University, 2004).  Among the professionals at the Linking and Leveraging Day there was a shared consensus that it is important to dedicate our work to the development of the whole child. 

Informing Our Work

The day began with presentations on current Alberta based research and a sampling of existing regional projects.  We learned from the Alberta Centre for Child, Family & Community Research that the findings of their 2013 provincial benchmark survey indicate that a high percentage of adults are confident in their parenting skills yet have low knowledge of child development milestones. 

We discovered that the Early Development Instrument (EDI) results indicate the percentage of children developing appropriately in all five areas of development varies a great deal from one community to another in Alberta, and a higher percentage of young children in Alberta are experiencing developmental difficulties as compared to the Canadian norm (www.ecmap.ca).

We found out about the ASaP continuum project and how the Teaching Pyramid Model provides training and support to enhance the skills, knowledge and confidence of early learning and care staff for meaningful inclusion of all children.  MacEwan University shared that the much anticipated Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework for Alberta is now available at www.childcareframework.com

Many community initiatives are underway in Alberta all demonstrating a positive change in early years practice.  The following were highlighted: The Relentless Connector, FIND (Filming Interactions to Nurture Development) a video coaching program, Respite Framework, City-Wide Coalitions, Aligning Early Years and End Poverty Edmonton.  By using research, evidence based best practices, partnerships and collaborations we are seeing better solutions and improved outcomes for children and families.

 

Collective Impact

For the second half of the day participants had the opportunity to reflect, brainstorm and share their thoughts on individual, organizational and collective next steps to build adult capacity around social and emotional competence. Mary Stewart, Interim Director of Education at the United Way related our work to the adage ‘getting everyone rowing in the same direction’. 

As I listened and transcribed the discuss points one message was clear.  Group members identified that in the Alberta early childhood landscape there are an abundant number of working groups, programs and resources but what is needed is a driving force at the helm.  The next steps given the highest priority involved coordination of our efforts through key messages and common language, post-secondary education curriculums which include content on social-emotional development, a ministry for children, consistent and ongoing screening and evaluation, and knowledge translation to service providers and caregivers who need it the most.

Call to Action

It is our responsibility as parents, caregivers, agencies, and decision makers to create caring and socially responsible communities, that support consistent and responsive relationships free of toxic stress and full of play based learning.  Often we can get caught up in the day to day but it is gathering opportunities like this that energize and remind us of the bigger picture and our role to play in being a champion for children!

Tammy Greidanus

Community Investment Specialist

United Way Alberta Capital Region

Wednesday
Nov272013

Mary Gordon honoured 

Every year, The Canadian Insitute for Child Health (CICH) holds the Crayons and Cravats Gala to recognize those who have made a significant contribution to the health and well-being of children. This year, Mary Gordon, founder of Roots of Empathy, was honoured with a National Child Day Award for her "dedication to raising children's social and emotional competence, breaking cycles of violence and improving parenting".

Roots of Empathy cultivates empathy and respect in children thorugh interactions with babies. The Honourable Landon Pearson comments that "the wisdom of babies can teach us-- and our children--  to be human."  Others have commented that sowing the seeds of empathy in children will build a more civil society and even lead to world peace. You can learn more about Roots and Empathy and its founder Mary Gordon, by visiting: rootsofempathy.org

If you live with, work with or care about children, CICH's work over the past 25 years has probably impacted you in some way. CICH is dedicated to monitoring, educating and advocating for children's health. They focus their work around five pillars: acting as a voice for Canadian children, supporting healthy pregnancy and childbirth, fostering healthy child development, ensuring our environment is safe for children, and monitoring the state of children's health.  (Please note: if you open the links to any of these pages, you will need to scroll down to see the information) 

Thursday
Nov072013

Great New Resources for Parents Launched by Alberta Health Services

By Ilene Fleming

Yesterday, I participated in the launch of “Healthy Parents Healthy Children” by Alberta Health Services. Every parent wants to do their best to raise a healthy child and the resources launched will provide support and guidance for families.

I was delighted to be asked to participate as a parent, because being Olivia’s mom brings me so much joy. Since Olivia was born, almost three years ago, I’ve experienced enormous growth as a parent. I’ve also been bombarded with plenty of advice and opinions (sometimes unsolicited and even contradictory!) about how to parent. I had no idea just how complex the parenting role would be! So, it’s wonderful to have this trusted source of information to support me, support Olivia.

The resources launched include a website and two comprehensive books: “Pregnancy and Birth” and “The Early Years.” I like that I can go online and search for information, whenever I need it. For instance, I can find out how to encourage healthy eating or good sleeping habits and what to do to support transitions that our whole family experiences as Olivia grows.  

The books are comprehensive and cover topics I hadn’t even considered, like:  when do I start flossing Olivia's teeth?  I love that there are pictures, quotes and suggested activities for us to support her next stage of development.  

It’s good to know that if I have a concern about Olivia’s development or if I need help, there is a list of additional resources! I can find out what to do and where to call. This information can be found in the books, under the section “Where to go for more information” and online as well.

And, I am so happy that there are reminders for parents to take care of ourselves. Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do, but healthy parents are a key ingredient for healthy children. And, in order to do our best, we all need support as parents.

I encourage all parents to check out these new resources and share them with others in your community. Helping parents feel connected and supported is a wonderful way to support children.

Photo (L-R):  AHS Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Richard Musto; Director of Community Building and Investment for Children and Youth, Success By 6, United Way, Ilene Fleming; Director, Healthy Children and Families at Alberta Health Services, Maureen Devolin; Executive Director, Healthy Living, Population and Public Health, AHS, Sara Jordan; Associate Minister of Wellness, Dave Rodney

 

Tuesday
Mar122013

Supportive Workplaces Foster Work-Life Balance

Returning to work after having a baby can be a stressful experience for parents. For months prior to my return, I dreaded the thought of leaving my son. My first full day back I felt torn about leaving him in the care of someone else, not to mention guilty. I pictured him crying and screaming as I walked out the door of his dayhome. As the weeks went on it did get easier, but one thing that helps immensely is having a supportive employer who is understanding and willing to accommodate a flexible work schedule. I made the decision to return to work four days a week, which has allowed me to maintain a healthy work-life balance and helped make the back to work transition a lot smoother for my family.

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Wednesday
Feb202013

Dr. Clyde Hertzman - A Champion for Children 

It is with sadness that we mourn the loss of Dr. Clyde Hertzman. Dr. Hertzman was a champion and advocate for the importance of early childhood development, social justice and for the elimination of poverty.

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Tuesday
Feb122013

Learning doesn’t begin when we start school – it begins at birth

When most people hear the word “education” they immediately think of school, usually starting with kindergarten. But the truth is, learning doesn’t begin when we start school – it begins at birth.

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