Projects

Currently, the Centre has several ongoing research projects:

  • Building the Capacity of Early Childhood Educators to Support the Social-Emotional Development of Children and their Families: Evaluating the Implementation of the Pyramid Model in NS
  • How is the Pandemic Influencing the Lives of Maritime Families with Young Children? A COVID-19 Focused Research Project
  • Illustrating the Experiences of Immigrant Families in Nova Scotia: A Photovoice Project Exploring the Experiences of Newcomer Families with Young Children
  • Responsive Feeding Environments in Early Learning Settings: A Scoping Review of the Factors Influencing Implementation and Sustainability
  • Positive Solutions for Families: Promoting Positive Parent Behaviours to Support Social-Emotional Health
  • MSVU SSHRC Exchange Connections Project
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Atlantic Connections Outreach Project 
  • Inter-University Research Network (IURN) – Play
  • EDI Mapping Project

Building the Capacity of Early Childhood Educators to Support the Social-Emotional Development of Children and their Families: Evaluating the Implementation of the Pyramid Model in NS

In Fall 2018, Nova Scotia began implementing The Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children. The Pyramid Model is an evidence-based, positive behavioural intervention and support framework for early childhood educators and parents to promote social and emotional development and address challenging behaviours.

The ECCRC is leading the evaluation of the Pyramid Model across the province. We are examining how the existing infrastructure and partnerships support the Pyramid Model’s implementation and how the model influences the awareness, knowledge, and value of social-emotional learning.

How is the Pandemic Influencing the Lives of Maritime Families with Young Children? A COVID-19 Focused Research Project

Given the coronavirus’s novelty (COVID-19) global pandemic, the exact impact of COVID-19 and the associated closures and physical distancing advice on Maritime families is still unknown. We have introduced an online survey to understand how the global pandemic influences the lives of Maritime families with young children, including their routines and needed supports. This will lead to future research focused on learning how family life has adapted as a result of COVID-19.

Illustrating the Experiences of Immigrant Families in Nova Scotia: A Photovoice Project Exploring the Experiences of Newcomer Families in Nova Scotia: A Photovoice Project Exploring the Experiences of Newcomer Families with Young Children

In partnership with the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, this research explores how immigrant families understand and experience early childhood programs and services offered in their communities. Families will use photographs to illustrate their lived experiences accessing the supports they need.

Responsive Feeding Environments in Early Learning Settings: A Scoping Review of the Factors Influencing Implementation and Sustainability

This is one of two scoping reviews we are conducting to comprehensively explore and synthesize the related literature on a topic important to our work at ECCRC: Responsive food environments. Specifically, we seek to answer the question: What is known about the factors influencing the implementation and sustainability of responsive food environments in early learning settings?

Positive Solutions for Families: Promoting Positive Parent Behaviours to Support Social Emotional Health

Positive Solutions for Families (PSF) is a population-level intervention initially developed by the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL). PSF is designed to develop family protective factors for mental health promotion through parenting strategies that focus on building supportive environments for social and emotional learning during early childhood. This project will adapt, implement and evaluate the PSF program. PSF is a complementary program to the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children.

PSF is delivered through online or in-person sessions. Sessions include group discussions, evidence-based practice and role-play and cover topics such as building relationships, strategies to promote positive behaviour and play as a powerful parenting practice. The program will be facilitated by staff from the Nova Scotia Early Childhood Development Intervention Services (NSECDIS). The NSECDIS provides province-wide specialized services to families with young children between birth and school entry, who either have a biological risk or a diagnosis of developmental delay. The research includes an evaluation of the PSF sessions through surveys, training evaluation forms, and interviews. The research will be conducted with families participating in the training sessions and with the facilitators who deliver the training.

The project will focus on implementing and evaluating the existing PSF workshop sessions and follow-up phone call protocol for three various regulated childcare centres across Nova Scotia. The remaining months will focus on implementing and evaluating the adapted sessions with five different regulated childcare centres across the province. The project will support knowledge exchange by creating regional and provincial opportunities to exchange lessons in implementing the intervention. The project will also explore the interest, feasibility, and cultural appropriateness of the Mi’kmaq and newcomer communities’ intervention.

MSVU SSHRC Exchange Connections Project

The ECCRC hosts a series of online seminars that strengthen relationships and promote collective learning amongst early childhood professionals and families while also supporting program development and policy refinement. The objectives of the online seminar series include 1) To build on existing knowledge and identifying new understandings in early childhood, and 2) To facilitate collaboration and relationship-building among policy-makers, practitioners, service providers, families, and researchers. The project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

First in the series: Bridging the Gap: Enhancing Communication Between Early Childhood Educators and Families to Support Children’s Social and Emotional Development, (February 2021).

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Atlantic Connections Outreach Project

The Connections Outreach Project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The project will build on existing relationships and focus on mobilizing data collection and reporting on children’s development in Atlantic Canada. It will support knowledge mobilization efforts that focus on moving toward integrated data systems across Atlantic Canada to monitor quality ECEC experiences on child development.

The project involves collective discussions with early childhood policymakers, researchers, and practitioners from across Atlantic Canada. Early childhood research representatives from the four Atlantic provinces, and Dr. Magdalena Janus from McMaster University in Ontario, will facilitate a series of five discussions to share current progress and explore aspirations for the future in Atlantic Canada.

Inter-University Research Network (IURN)- Play

This study will explore parents’ perception of outdoor risky play in African Nova Scotian communities where the children are experiencing an achievement gap. To gain an understanding of varied perspectives, participants will be recruited from across the province to participate in individual interviews (virtually), targeting communities that have representatives from the African Nova Scotian population.

EDI Mapping Project

The EDI mapping project aims to identify geographic patterns of childhood vulnerability across Nova Scotia’s sub-areas and how they have changed in recent years. We looked at low school readiness (vulnerability) patterns using provincial Early Development Instrument assessments by a custom geographical area unit called Community Clusters. We want to add clarity to our understanding that, in addition to individual and family circumstances, structural determinants of health in the community context are also an important factor that influences early childhood vulnerability.

Past Projects

Growing a Family in New Land: A Scoping Review of the Factors Shaping Newcomer Families’ Experiences with Early Childhood Supports

This is one of two scoping reviews we conducted to comprehensively explore and synthesize the related literature on a topic important to our work at ECCRC: Immigrant families. Specifically, we seek to answer the question: What is known about immigrant families’ experiences with programs and services to support early childhood development in Canada?

Establishing a Current State of Healthy Eating Practices Across Early Learning Environments

Building upon the momentum of the revised Canada’s Food Guide and the increased policy attention on early childhood in Nova Scotia, the ECCRC seeks to build a research program to support healthy eating practices across early learning environments. We are currently using a Knowledge-to-Action model to build an understanding of current healthy eating and responsive feeding practices in early learning environments and support partnership development among a collaborative team of academics, practitioners, and policymakers.

Facilitating Quality Early Learning Environments: Evaluation of Professional Development for Nova Scotia’s Early Learning Curriculum Framework

In the summer of 2018, Nova Scotia launched its early learning and curriculum framework (ELCF) entitled Capable, Confident, & Curious: Nova Scotia’s Early Learning Curriculum Framework. It was the ninth province in Canada to do so over the last twelve years. The ELCF is an evidence-based support framework for early childhood educators and parents to promote and facilitate social and emotional development within classrooms and curriculum.

The Early Childhood Collaborative Research Centre (ECCRC) is leading the evaluation of the ELCF training initiative on behalf of the Dept. of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD). The purpose of this evaluation is to provide information on the implementation and short-term outcomes of the implementation of the Professional Development (PD) to support Nova Scotia’s Early Learning Curriculum Framework in early learning environments. An interim report will be released in the spring of 2020.

Quality Matters in Nova Scotia: Evaluating the Process of the Early Child Care Quality Assessment Program

As part of the 2016 report, Affordable Quality Childcare: A Great Place to Grow, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) launched the province-wide assessment program Quality Matters. To understand how regulated child care centres across Nova Scotia engaged this new implementation, ECCRC is evaluating the QM process in partnership with the DEECD. With funding provided by the Margaret & Wallace McCain Family Foundation, ECCRC examines the experiences of centres to understand how Quality Matters has influenced the understanding and integration of continuous quality improvement across the province.

Addressing the Achievement Gap Through Pre-primary (2017-2018)

This research project investigates how Nova Scotia’s Pre-primary Program addresses the achievement gap by ensuring equal opportunities for early childhood education, taking into account societal and community barriers and diversity. This research is funded by the Inter-University Research Network (Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development).

For the Pre-primary Program to provide high-quality early childhood education, recruitment and retention of trained early childhood educators are required. Students enrolled in the Mount Saint Vincent University Child and Youth Study program, and Nova Scotia’s Early Childhood Education training programs with a Mount Saint Vincent/Child and Youth articulation agreement (Nova Scotia Community College, Nova Scotia College of Early Childhood Education, The Jane Norman College and Université Saint Anne) were recruited to complete a survey.

The survey examined how the pre-primary program’s introduction is influencing future Early Childhood Educators in terms of their perception of changes in workforce opportunities and their expectations about future employment. The results will provide information to help inform decision-making around the training, education, recruitment and employment in Early Childhood Education/Child and Youth related sectors.

Expanding Connections to Support Early Childhood Development in Nova Scotia

The ECCRC hosts a series of curated, thematic seminars exploring different early childhood topics (including responsive feeding, social-emotional learning, supporting children with autism, play-based learning). The seminars occur simultaneously across three communities in Nova Scotia. Each session includes a presentation with topic-specific content, storytelling, and facilitated discussion with early childhood stakeholders, especially Early Childhood Educators. Check out a recording of our first seminar here.

Increasing Access to an Affordable Program Focused on Movement and Outdoor Play: Evaluation of the Before and After Pre-primary Program Pilot

From January to June 2019, the Nova Scotia Departments of Education and Early Childhood Development and Communities, Culture, and Heritage piloted a demonstration project, providing onsite programming focused on movement, outdoor play, and physical literacy.

We conducted a developmental evaluation to determine how the shared standards and pilot implementation influenced access to affordable, quality programming for children and their families and how it influenced early childhood educators and recreation practitioners’ awareness and skills in movement, physical literacy, and outdoor play. Results will be shared soon!

 Mobilizing Connections to build early childhood partnerships in Nova Scotia

Through the Connection Grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Dr. Jessie-Lee McIsaac is leading an effort to respond to families’ needs by developing collaborations, sharing best practices and mobilizing research results.

In Fall 2018, a group of multi-sector participants working in early childhood research, policy, and practice in Nova Scotia came together to strengthen collaborations between researchers and policy/practice stakeholders to promote collective learning and strengthen future research partnerships supporting program development and policy refinement. The event met two specific objectives:

1.Support knowledge mobilization between academic and non-academic early childhood stakeholders in Nova Scotia and across Canada.

2.Identify opportunities to enable future collaborations among researchers, policymakers and practitioners in Nova Scotia and across Canada.

Existing early childhood collaborative partnerships within Nova Scotia were strengthened, and new connections between stakeholders working in research, policy and practice were encouraged. The event also enhanced students’ skill development in early childhood research and knowledge mobilization to support future research training and professional aspirations. Priority actions were discussed to identify opportunities for future collaborations between stakeholders. Stay tuned for future developments!

Supporting Young Children and Their Families Through Seamless Access to Play-based Learning Programs: Evaluating Nova Scotia’s Early Years Centres and Pre-primary Program

This five-year evaluation was conducted on behalf of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development with the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation’s funding.

We looked at the province’s Early Years Centres and Pre-primary Programs to understand how they can be integrated into the existing school system to best support children, families, and care providers. Gathering data for this project involved a wide array of methods, including interviews, focus groups, school visits, an online family survey, and the administration of the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale Third Edition (ECERS-3).