The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada published it’s first position statement on Early Childhood this year.

Find the full statement here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAExecutive Summary

Early childhood or ‘the early years’ is the most important developmental phase of life in which
crucial advancements in physical, social, cognitive, emotional and language domains take place. Experiences during this time – and even before birth – influence health, education and economic prospects throughout life.

Experiences in the first six years can become biologically embedded and influence outcomes throughout the life course in a positive way but also in a negative way. Disruptions during this period can significantly impact behavior and learning as well as adult health outcomes.

Fortunately, intervening early and often can have a tremendous influence to promote
positive outcomes and minimize or mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences and
events.

Research clearly shows that health promotion and disease prevention programs targeted at
adults would be more effective if investments were also made early in life on the origins of those
diseases and behaviours.

Early childhood development interventions (such as education and care, parenting support, and poverty reduction) yield benefits throughout life that are worth many times the original investment.

Recommendations

  1. The federal government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, implement an early child development system with supports for families including but not limited to
    supports during pregnancy; early childhood learning opportunities; and high quality,
    universal, accessible and developmentally appropriate child care, including for Indigenous children living both on and off reserve.
  2. The federal government commit to increasing funding for early childhood development to 1% of GDP to bring Canada in line with other OECD countries.
  3. Evidence based home visiting programs such as the Nurse Family Partnership be made
    available to all vulnerable families in Canada.
  4. Governments support the expansion of community resources for parents and caregivers
    which provide parenting programs and family supports, creating a system where all families have access.
  5. Governments increase public awareness and support to optimize health and reduce potential remediable risk factors for pregnancy and before conception.
  6. Governments increase accessible prenatal care, educational programs and parental supports.
  7. The federal government work with provinces and territories to implement a pan-Canadian poverty reduction strategy, including the eradication of child poverty, with clear accountability and measurable targets.
  8. The federal government work with the provinces and territories to create a robust collection, monitoring and reporting system on early childhood to ensure proper monitoring of development and effectiveness of interventions including:
    ~the identification of data gaps related to disadvantaged populations and Indigenous
    children including Métis
    ~ongoing implementation of the Early Development Instrument (EDI) in all jurisdictions
    ~a similar tool for 18 months and middle childhood.
  9. Curriculum on early brain, biological development and early learning be incorporated,
    including education on the developmental origins of adult health and disease and the impact of the determinants of health specific to Indigenous children such as colonization and racism into all Canadian medical schools and residency programs.
  10. Continuing medical education on early brain, biological development and early learning be available to all care providers, particularly but not limited to those in primary care.
  11. All provinces and territories implement an enhanced 18-month well-baby visit strategy with appropriate compensation, access to tools, adequate electronic medical records and resource pathways to community supports.
  12. Physicians and other primary care providers integrate the enhanced 18-month visit into their regular clinical practice.
  13. Comprehensive resources be developed for primary-care providers to identify community supports and services to facilitate referral for expecting parents, parents, and children.
  14. Physicians be educated about the evidence base for the impact of early family literacy and the importance of discussing and recommending literacy promotion in routine clinical encounters with children of all ages.
  15. National and Provincial/Territorial Medical Associations work with governments and the
    non-profit sector to explore the development of a clinically based child literacy program for Canada working in collaboration with community literacy efforts .
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