Benefits of AECDC
"If we as cultures want to remain rich and vibrant and thriving, then our children must thrive." - Dr. Margo Greenwood - Academic Leader National Collaborative Centre for Aboriginal Health
AECDC results in many long-term and short-term benefits for our communities. From increased connection to culture and tradition, to better long term education and health outcomes AECDC programs lay the foundations of strong communities.
Culture and Tradition:
When we raise children with a strong sense of self that is rooted in our culture and traditions, we create leaders that will build our Nation's future. A child's sense of self is developed before the age of six. As a people we have always known that we must connect the generations and share knowledge about our culture and traditions to create thriving communities. Aboriginal Early Childhood Development and Care Programs provide spaces where elders, children and parents can connect around our traditional practices.
The Assembly of First Nations has stated that “Aboriginal child care services that "reflect First Nations beliefs and values, [will] restore our children to their rightful place and, in doing so, restores our communities to a place of power and self sufficiency.”
These programs take a holistic approach to educating and caring for children. Many programs exist across B.C. but we need to do more. In 2003, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Directorate for Education produced a report on the programs and services available early development and care programs available to young children. The report found that an estimated “90 percent of Aboriginal children in Canada do not have access to regulated infant development or early childhood programs with any Aboriginal component.”
ECDC is more than babysitting. It delivers a careful combination of care and learning to develop a child's cognitive brain and social skills. When we think of investing in education, what usually comes to mind is skills training for adults, funding for post-secondary, and specialized K-12 programs. Early Childhood Development and Care (ECDC) is often overlooked and yet research shows that this is the best time to invest in learning. If we want to increase graduation rates, and ensure that our children are well prepared to exist in two worlds we must give them the right start. For example, evaluation of Aboriginal Head Start Program in NWT indicates that at least one year of Aboriginal Head Start reduced the risk of a child repeating a grade in elementary school.
The graph below, from the Human Early Learning Partnerships report 15 x 15 A Comprehensive Policy Framework for Investments in Early Human Capital Investment in B.C. show that the best return on investment for education dollars is from programs for children before the age 7.
Economists now assert that investment in early childhood
is the most powerful investment a community, region or country can make, with
returns over the life course many times the amount of the original investment. If
our children are ready to for a life long learn and have the skills to tackle
school they can become strong members of the community and workforce and help
us to build communities that thrive.
Health and Community:
Research at the Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC and by Dr. Margo Greenwood at University of Northern British Columbia is demonstrating the positive impact of high quality, culturally relevant early childhood development and care programs in our communities.
“We know that many adult health problems: obesity, mental health (depression), heart disease, high blood pressure, non-insulin dependent diabetes, as well as literacy and numeracy skills, have their roots in the early years. Therefore, not only is ECD socially determined but ECD is also a determinant of health, well-being, and learning skills across the balance of a life time. As a result, and in order to improve the health of the population, it is critical for societies to understand trends in ECD at a population level.”(It Takes a Child to Raise a Community: Population based Measurement of Early Childhood Development - 2008.)
ECDC programs help raise healthy citizens, with strong minds and strong spirits. They increase parenting skills for the next generation and provide a range of supports to families.
We must ensure that every child has a chance for a healthy start. Let's put children first and make AECDC programs a priority in our communities.