North East Edmonton Early Childhood Development Coalition
Community at a glance
Edmonton Northeast has extremely diverse demographics. Its seven subcommunities include some of the lowest-cost housing in Edmonton, which attracts many families with young children and many immigrants. The new suburbs on the northern edges of the community feature high-end housing, however.
EDI baseline results
Forty-one per cent of the kindergarten-aged children are experiencing great difficulty in one or more areas of development. Results vary a great deal among subcommunities.
Community and coalition strengths
- One of the community’s neighbourhoods, Bannerman, was part of the 2005 Early Childhood Development Community Mapping Project, which involved 29 Edmonton neighbourhoods. The pilot built up excitement about what the ECMap data would reveal about other neighbourhoods.
- The coalition has been supported by a strong, existing network of committed service providers in the community.
Community and coalition challenges
- There are a number of good programs and services for families, but “getting people through the door” can be a challenge.
- In many families, both parents work full time. Many children spend their days with nannies, relatives or daycare staff, who may be untrained and unaware of how to support healthy development.
- Many families with young children are isolated. Working parents find it difficult to access community programs, particularly in newer suburbs that lack programs and facilities.
- There are no parents sitting on the coalition. Many community members are single parents or are struggling with poverty, which makes it difficult for them to attend regular meetings.
- Two preschool resource fairs were held in the summer of 2012, funded by the City of Edmonton Community Engagement Fund. The coalition organized a dinner, a clothing and book exchange, and face painting, and arranged to have the Classroom on Wheels bus parked outside to attract people. Stations corresponding to the five areas of development measured by the EDI were set up to increase awareness of the different areas of children’s development.
- A public health nurse hosted four workshops (in 2012-13) on children’s mental health and emotional maturity for parents, day home and daycare providers, and other early child development professionals. Daycare and day home participants were especially thankful for the practical information they received on how to support young children struggling with emotional issues and promote healthy emotional development.
- In August 2013, Carol McCloud, a renowned children’s author, was invited to lead a workshop entitled “Have you filled your bucket today? A guide to daily happiness for kids.” More than 50 parents, children and caregivers attended the workshops, which were held at the Londonderry and Abbottsfield branches of the Edmonton Public Library.
- A coalition website was created. It is now hosted as a page on the Edmonton Citywide website, (http://www.earlychildhoodedm.ca/northeast/).
- The coalition worked with a communications consultant to create a brochure and poster about the coalition and the importance of positive early development. The brochures were handed out and the poster was displayed in LRT stations and on trains.
- A coordinator was hired with seed grant funding. During her two-year appointment, the coordinator shared EDI data and built relationships with parent groups, school principals, church groups and public officials, among others.
"Creating positive outcomes for kids is not just the job of service providers. It's everybody's responsibility. Everyone has a contribution to make."
Amanda Gibson, coalition chair
Updated: April 28, 2014