Data Systems for Early Childhood Development in Atlantic Canada: A Collective Discussion to Share Current Progress and Explore Aspirations for the Future

The Connections Project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The project involves a series of collective discussions with early childhood policymakers, researchers, and practitioners from across Atlantic Canada. The goal is to build an understanding of current research efforts and to explore opportunities for Atlantic Canadian professionals to work together in collaborative research.

First in the series: How Are the Children? What We Know About Early Childhood Development in (Atlantic) Canada, March 25, 2021

Dr. Magdalena Janus, Professor at McMaster University and Co-Developer of the Early Development Instrument (EDI), facilitated a collective conversation about the importance of measuring and monitoring early childhood development. As an introduction to the series, she provided a broad summary of up-to-date EDI findings from various regions in the context of social determinants of health. She concluded by exploring the potential of the Atlantic provinces’ experience to inform both regional and national discourse.

Mo Dresch illustrated a fantastic graphic capturing the discussions had in the seminar which can be seen in this graphic summary.

Second in the series: Collaborating in the Development of Data Repositories: Recommendations and Opportunities for Atlantic Canada, April 15, 2021

Dr. David Philpott, Early Childhood Researcher and Policy Informer in Newfoundland & Labrador, facilitated a collective conversation about his experience with recommending early childhood data systems and greater collaboration among the Atlantic provinces. He focused on the three areas of inclusive education, student mental health, and the early years. He shared his aspirations for the future using data repositories and discussed the benefits for both service delivery and public policy development

Mo Dresch illustrated a beautiful graphic capturing the discussions had in the seminar which can be seen in this graphic summary.

Third in the series: The New Brunswick Institute for Research Data and Training: Using Data to Support Informed Policy and Decision Making to Promote Health and Social Prosperity for New Brunswickers, May 6, 2021

Dr. Gregory Paterson is the Qualitative Research Analyst Lead with the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Greg facilitated a collective discussion about NB-IRDT’s use of data repositories and how the Institute is engaging in a five-year longitudinal study to support evidence-informed policy for early childhood education. In addition, Greg shared examples of how NB-IRDT’s work is delivering linkable data to provide data informed policy for many departments with the Government of New Brunswick and other non-government agencies.

Mo Dresch illustrated a beautiful graphic capturing the discussions had in the seminar which can be seen in this graphic summary.

Fourth in the series: Mobilizing Data to Inform Early Childhood Policies in Nova Scotia, May 27, 2021

Dr. Jessie-Lee McIsaac, Assistant Professor and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Early Childhood Diversity and Transitions with the Faculty of Education and Department of Child and Youth Study at Mount Saint Vincent University, facilitated a collective discussion about the policy landscape for early childhood development and why it is important in Nova Scotia. She shared her previous and ongoing experience with EDI and other early childhood and education data systems. Providing aspirations for the future, she discussed linking data across systems and programs with examples.

Mo Dresch illustrated a beautiful graphic capturing the discussions had in the seminar which can be seen in this graphic summary.

Fifth in the series: Evaluating the Impact of Early Years Intervention on Human Development and Health: Using a Birth Cohort as an Upstream Approach to Understanding Factors that Influence Human Development, June 17th, 2021

Dr. Bill Montelpare, Professor at the University of Prince Edward Island and Margaret and Wallace McCain Chair in Human Development and Health, facilitated a collective conversation that reviewed the background, rationale, methodology, and expectations for a prospective longitudinal birth cohort, in a general sense, and how such an initiative can be brought to scale across Atlantic Canada. He provided examples of how the birth cohort can address issues of child health and development and how it can be used to develop policies and programs that will enhance early childhood development.