Healthy Child Development and the Early Years Ontario Library Association (OLA) Super Conference February 1 4, 2012 Ministry of Children and Youth Services Starting Early to Support Success The evidence is clear investing early supports children to achieve their full potential now and in the future. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) is committed to giving children the best possible start in life and our Healthy Child Development programs play an important part in helping us meet that commitment. Healthy Child Development programs include: Healthy Babies Healthy Children, the Blind-Low Vision, Infant Hearing, Infant Development, Early Literacy Specialist and
Preschool Speech and Language programs as well as Ontario Early Years Centres, the Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit and the Student Nutrition Program. These programs support children and their families in all areas of child development, including speech and language, literacy, hearing and vision, nutrition and parenting and family support. 2 With Our Best Future in Mind Based on the work of Dr. Charles Pascal and continuing the implementation of Best Start, MCYS is supporting Best Start Hubs with a goal of expanding seamless services for children and their families. The ministry is funding 4 community-wide action research projects in London, Sudbury, Hastings-Prince Edward and Toronto. Through an additional Innovation Fund, MYCS is also supporting 16 community projects in 15 communities to focus on service integration.
Seven communities have been selected by MCYS, the Ministry of Education (MEDU) and the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC) to demonstrate the provision of speech and language services for children from age 0 to Grade 3 in ways that are more effective, seamless and supportive of childrens key transitions. The findings from all of these projects will guide future policies, strategies and processes in developing programs and services for young children. Libraries can play an important in supporting service integration by participating in local planning, working with community partners, inviting programs to use library space or taking library programs to community locations, acting as service hubs. The Critical Importance of Literacy The Evidence: Educational attainment is essential to lifelong security. Eighty percent of children identified with a speech and/or language delay are at risk for difficulties in developing their reading skills. Students who do not learn to read by Grade 3 have a 75 percent
chance of never becoming literate and never graduating from high school (Catts, 2002). Literacy supports child and family health and well-being. Low parental literacy levels are associated with poverty (Association of Food Banks, 2008) and adverse paediatric health outcomes, including infant mortality (Green, 2009). 4 The Critical Importance of Literacy The Evidence: Our diverse society impacts services. Children of new immigrant families take seven to eight years to achieve the Canadian literacy norm. If literacy skills continue to be deficient, these children will show a 20% wage earnings gap as compared to nativeborn Canadians (Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network, 2009). Parents are critical: Parents involvement in their childrens schooling and aspirations for their childrens educational achievement are important factors in improving reading
ability, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds (Canadian Education Statistics Council, 2009). Reading improves most when parents read books with their child, when they talk about things they have done during the day and when they tell stories to their children (Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009). Realizing Our Potential: Our Children, Our Youth, Our Future The MCYS strategic goals are: Every child and youth has a voice. Every child and youth receives personalized services. Everyone involved in service delivery contributes to achieving common outcomes. Every child and youth is resilient. Every young person graduates from secondary school. 6 Implications for Literacy We cannot improve childrens school success unless we support their development of early language and literacy skills.
We know that there is a clear relationship between a childs early language development and his/her literacy skills. We also know that one of the best ways to improve childrens language and literacy skills is to give their parents the knowledge and skills they need to support their childrens development. The long-reaching implications of poor literacy skills make it critical for us to get to children early and prevent problems before they begin. The chances of later social isolation, economic hardships and decreased resiliency can be significantly reduced if we reach children in the early years and support their development appropriately and effectively. We know that early years programs must be personalized to fit the individual needs of the child as well as the needs of his/her family. Working together through our early years system we can help achieve the goal that every youth graduates from secondary school.
MCYS Healthy Child Development Programs Public libraries are key partners in this ministrys early literacy programming. Many MCYS programs are local partners with public libraries. Screening MCYS supports screening to both confirm normal development and flag concerns, including speech and language difficulties: Healthy Babies Healthy Children (HBHC): The program provides early identification and intervention services to women and their families in the prenatal period and to families with children from birth to their transition to school. HBHC provides screening for pregnant women and every new baby and mother. Based on this screening, a public health nurse determines whether the family would benefit from additional services of the HBHC program, including home visiting. HBHC promotes parenting and optimal physical, cognitive, communicative and psychosocial development in children. Enhanced 18-Month Well-Baby Visit: This visit is a developmental review and evaluation for children at 18 months of age completed by the primary health care provider in collaboration with parents. Tools for use at the visit support education, information and activities that promote literacy and communication in the early years (e.g. Rourke Baby Record, Nipissing District Developmental Screen - NDDS). Upcoming 36-Month Developmental Screen: Working towards a developmental screening that would include speech, language and literacy with the goal of support for transition to school. Preschool Speech and Language (PSL): The PSL Program identifies children with speech and language disorders as early as possible and provides these children and their families with services to enable them to develop communication and early literacy skills so they are ready to start school.
PSL services include: Early identification of children with speech and language disorders and delays; Simplified access through one toll-free number and direct parent referral; Assessment of children for speech and language disorders; and A range of age- and disorder-appropriate interventions (e.g. parent training, group therapy, one-on-one intervention). Seven communities have been selected as speech and language demonstration sites. These sites are implementing varying models to improve speech and language services in their community, allowing the ministries to learn from their different experiences and outcomes. An external evaluation and impact assessment of the demonstration sites (Fall 2011 to August 2012) will inform future changes to provincial speech and language services. 8 MCYS Healthy Child Development Programs Ontario Early Years Centres (OEYCs): OEYCs provide a variety of programs and services related to literacy, numeracy, health and nutrition, parenting workshops and seminars, as well as linkages to a wide range of other early years services. Every OEYC offers programs designed to help parents support their children, and to help children be ready to achieve success in school. OEYCs achieve this goal by offering the following core services which are free to all parents and caregivers of young children: Early learning and literacy programs for parents and their children;
Programs to support parents and caregivers in all aspects of early child development; Programs for new parents on pregnancy and parenting; Book and resource lending programs; Links to other early years programs and services in the community to promote community collaboration to support and promote effective early literacy and language development; and Outreach activities to allow all parents to become involved with their local OEYC. Early Literacy Specialists Program (ELSP): ELSP strengthens, supports and promotes effective early literacy and language development for young children and their parents. Forty-three lead agencies employ 63 early literacy specialists to deliver training and supports to early years professionals and parents to promote childrens early language and literacy development. Early literacy specialists form linkages with other community-based early years programs such as HBHC, PSL, child care centres and libraries to deliver programming that improves childrens literacy and numeracy skills. 9
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