Edmonton Mill Woods

Mill Woods Early Childhood coalition

Parent conference poster
​​​​The Mill Woods Early Childhood coalition (MWECC) wanted to find out why preliminary EDI results showed high numbers of children struggling in all areas of development in one subcommunity. The coalition organized a meeting with parents, residents and service providers at the elementary school in the subcommunity. They discussed the strengths of the community, as well as possible reasons for the high percentage of struggling children. Participants noted the high number of immigrants living in the area. Many newcomers struggle to meet their family’s basic needs and are not accustomed to seeking professional help for themselves or their children, or do not know where to seek this support. 

Community at a glance

Mill Woods lies in the southeast of Edmonton and was designed in the mid-1970s as a stand-alone ‘town’ within the bounds of the city. The ECD community now encompasses many new neighbourhoods with large populations of young families,  including The Meadows, Laurel, Ellerslie, Summerside, Ellerslie, Charlesworth, Maple Ridge and Walker.
There is tremendous diversity in terms of language, ethnicity, religion, education and income. Demographic data shows that the community has a high percentage of immigrants (28 per cent), nearly double the Alberta average, and a higher percentage of residents whose first language is not English or French.

EDI baseline results

A large percentage of young children are experiencing difficulty or great difficulty, particularly in communications skills and general knowledge (40 per cent). Subcommunity results vary a great deal. 


  • Strong connections exist among service providers in the community.
  •  Mill Woods is often thought of as a small town. This has fostered a strong sense of community cohesion.
  • There is a history of joint ventures, such as the Mill Woods President’s Council community league newsletter, Mill Woods Mapping and Beyond group, and popular annual events, which celebrate Canada Day and Community League Day.
  • Service providers meet monthly through the Mill Woods Interagency group, which includes members of government, education, business and non-profits.
  • The coalition has broad representation from agencies and service providers, including nonprofits, government (e.g. Children’s Services, Alberta Health Services), the Edmonton Public Schools, Edmonton Catholic Schools, Edmonton Public Library, Welcome Centre for Immigrants, City of Edmonton, ABC Head Start, and Mill Woods Family Resource Center.


  • Transportation is a challenge for residents who don’t have cars, particularly in getting to government programs and services that are only available downtown.
  • The many different languages spoken in the community can make it more difficult and costly to “get messages out” as resources need to be translated.
  •  Getting parents involved in the coalition has been an issue.

Coalition action

  • A one-day parenting conference was hosted in partnership with the Mill Woods Family Resource Centre in March 2014. The conference was free of charge, and child care was provided. Parents were surveyed ahead of time on what information they would find most suitable for workshops. Sessions were then organized on children’s nutrition, behavior management and bedtime issues. Service providers and agencies set up information booths to publicize their services. The plan is to make this an annual event and involve other Edmonton coalitions.
  • Postcards and posters with messages about different stages in children’s development were developed. They were written in simple, clear language that would be understandable by adults with low literacy levels and could be easily translated.
  • A monthly news article on early development is submitted to and published by the local newspaper, The Mill Woods Mosaic. The series will run for a year and each article centres around a particular stage in development and ideas on how children can best be supported during each stage. The series draws on the professional expertise of coalition members.


Our focus is to promote knowledge in the community about the importance of the early years and how brain development in young children works, so we're not just sharing (EDI results) without a context.
Debbie Bryson, coalition chair

Webpage: http://www.earlychildhoodedm.ca/millwoods/

Updated: April 28, 2014