Nurturing Early Childhood Development in Times of Austerity

dad16According to a paper titled Nurturing early childhood development in times of austerity in BC, “Canada has the weakest public funding for early childhood development among wealthy countries. The consequences of this lack of investment can be seen in the state of early childhood development in British Columbia.”
This paper describes the findings of  study that identified communities with higher levels of vulnerability on the Early Development Instrument (EDI) that managed to change the trend of vulnerability.

According to this analysis, the following elements enable this change:

  • The federal and provincial government must take a strong leadership role in creating policies and funding for employment, income, housing, parental leave and child care. This sets a well-furnished stage for the work of local agencies and individuals.
  • Initiatives to improve early childhood development outcomes must be broad-based and not simply targeted at low-income or high-risk families. Research shows that vulnerability occurs across all income levels, and that universal approaches are most effective.
  • Government must provide leadership with policies and funding, but must also partner with local agencies and individuals. This type of partnership harnesses the power of active and engaged community members.
  • Local committees that include representatives from all levels of government, schools and community agencies, are an ideal way to support improvements to early childhood development. Communities with this type of committee tend to have lower levels of developmental vulnerability.

Fast-tracking Trust

We know that “change happens at the speed of trust” (~Stephen M. R. Covey).
But David Sawyer & David Ehrlichman suggest that it can be fast-tracked. In a recent article called the

The Tactics of Trust in the Standford Social Innovation Review, they suggest a number of strategies for accelerating trust building, including using network briefings at cross-sector meetings:

Network Briefings

“In this exercise, each leader delivers a three-minute presentation, followed by a two-minute question-and-answer session. Leaders should discuss the main issue that concerns them, efforts that are under way to deal with the issue, and the obstacles to success that they face. To keep participants’ energy levels high, organizers should schedule sets of four to six presentations at various points during the day. By the end of these briefings, participants will understand the range of issues that affect a system, why those issues matter, and where the network might be able to intervene constructively.”