Why is this a game changer? As part of any poverty reduction initiative, it is important to look for ways to reduce the effect of poverty on children. Growing up in a home that has inadequate financial, social, and cultural resources for basic family needs can have long-term negative consequences for a child’s development. Recent research on brain science and learning indicates the negative effects of early childhood poverty, from prenatal to age 5, can be harmful and long-lasting. Focusing on interventions for children in their early years is seen as a promising approach to eradicating the harmful multigenerational effects of poverty. There is consistent robust evidence that shows affordable and high-quality early childhood education is one way to mitigate the harmful effects of living in poverty.
As part of advancing the EndPovertyEdmonton Task Force strategic priority “plan and implement a system of early learning and care” in the City of Edmonton, the Early Learning and Care Steering Committee (ELCSC) was formed. The committee is co-chaired by City of Edmonton Councillor Bev Esslinger and Dr. Jeff Bisanz, Co-Chair of the Stewardship Round Table for EndPovertyEdmonton. Membership includes representation from the City of Edmonton, the provincial ministries of Children’s Services, Education, Status of Women, and Health, the Edmonton Public School Board and the Edmonton Catholic School Board, and MacEwan University, as well as members from the early learning and care field.
One mandate of the ELCSC is to plan and implement a system of early learning and care in the City of Edmonton. The ELCSC is working with researchers to develop a preliminary design sketch for an Integrated Early Learning and Care System. The design sketch will be a platform for the committee to engage the community to collectively use existing assets and work happening in the City of Edmonton’s early learning and care community to enhance coordination, communication and advocacy for the advancement of affordable and quality child care.
Our present City of Edmonton elected officials have made some significant positive steps toward supporting children in their early years, including Housing First and Child Friendly Edmonton. City Council also helped to establish EndPovertyEdmonton, which in turn supports the ELCSC to look at ways to increase affordable quality child care.
Helping children and their parents who live in poverty must remain a priority for city officials. Another source for learning about this issue is to visit the Edmonton Early Years Coalition webpage. Stay tuned for updates from the ELCSC as they progress in their collective efforts to advance the Game Changer “affordable and quality child care”.
For more information please contact Heather Raymond, Coordinator for the ELCSC.
Dr. Heather Raymond brings to the position Coordinator Early Learning Care Steering Committee an extensive background on issues related to early learning. Prior to retiring she was a public school educator for 34 years with Edmonton Public Schools (EPS). Her final position was Managing Director – Inclusive Learning Services. Part of her portfolio included, among other responsibilities, the delivery of services to early learning and kindergarten classes through a multidisciplinary team approach. She established partnerships with community early learning and care service providers and administered the implementation of the Early Development Instrument (EDI). She has been a champion for collaborating with community partners in promoting the value of quality and accessible early learning opportunities for all children.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of EndPovertyEdmonton.