Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Understanding the Early Years in Niagara

A breakfast forum was hosted by the Early Childhood Community Development Centre this morning in St. Catharines. Data was presented on the results of a survey of neighbourhoods in the Niagara Region. An instrument called the Early Development Instrument was developed to measure 'readiness to learn in school' and the results are based on an overall sample size of 3,014. Glory Ressler, Coordinator, Understanding the Early Years Niagara Region, and Tiffany Gartner, Data Analysis Coordinator, Ontario Early Years Niagara Region reviewed some fascinating results of the survey. The following conclusions were reviewed.
  • almost 1 in 4 Niagara children are not ready for learning
  • poor scores impact future success and, eventually, community health and prosperity
  • larger percentages of children living in poverty are vulnerable
  • the largest number of children at risk live in middle/upper income families
  • small changes for a large proportion of the population will have the most impact
  • neighbourhood makes a difference - not always in a predictable manner
  • access to resources also seems important
  • low scores, differences and surprises can inspire further study and action.
As with all good studies we have completed in Niagara, what counts now is what we do with the information. It's time for our individual communities to learn more about the local information and then decide how to work together to ensure that every child has the opportunity to develop his/her full potential. As Thomas D'Aquino, President of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives said "If Canada is to succeed in forging a creative economy, we cannot afford to waste the talents of a single Canadian."

In the photo from left to right: Heather Carter, Aaron Bell, Ojibway Storyteller, Glory Ressler, Coordinator, Understanding the Early Years Niagara Region and Dr. Robin Williams, Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner of Public Health.

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