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Understanding The Early Years and The Community Action Plan. Michelle Ward,Executive Director - Kids First Association Lisa MacRae, Public Health Nurse Antigonish April 7, 2011. Understanding The Early Years Pictou Antigonish Guysborough.

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understanding the early years and the community action plan

Understanding The Early Years and The Community Action Plan

Michelle Ward,Executive Director - Kids First Association

Lisa MacRae, Public Health Nurse Antigonish

April 7, 2011

understanding the early years pictou antigonish guysborough
Understanding The Early Years Pictou Antigonish Guysborough
  • Pictou Antigonish Guysborough (PAG) initiated the Understanding the Early Years project in 2007 and was completed in 2010.
  • Community Action Plan (CAP) is developed using local research which identifies gaps and provides a blueprint for concrete measures the community can take to ensure our children are prepared for success in school and in life.
  • Early Years Networks are now using the data and CAP to develop local responses.
foundational pieces of uey
Foundational Pieces of UEY
  • Parental Interviews and Direct Assessment of Children Survey(PIDACS) - Direct assessment results on Grade Primary children’s school readiness (PIDACS) and parents’ perspective on family circumstances and children's experiences
  • Early Development Instrument (EDI) - Teachers perspectives on the development of Grade Primary children
  • Community Mapping report - Local information on programs and services and local socioeconomic characteristics
what is pidacs parent inventory direct assessment of children
What is PIDACS ?Parent Inventory & Direct Assessment of Children

PIDACS originated from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY).

There are two components of PIDACS:

  • Three assessments of children’s cognitive development. Each assessment is facilitated by a trained instructor and completed by the child to determine receptive vocabulary (words recognized or understood in speech), copying and printing skills and number knowledge.
  • A parent interview of about one hour in length, covering family, social and economic circumstances; children’s activities at home, community involvement and child behaviour and health. Interviews are completed with the person most knowledgeable (PMK) of the child.

519 children completed the PIDACS direct assessments and 531 parents/guardians were interviewed

what is early development instrument edi
What is Early Development Instrument (EDI)?
  • Designed to provide information for groups of children
  • Report on populations of children in different communities
  • Assess strengths and deficits in students
  • Predict how children will do in elementary school
  • EDI questionnaires completed on 696 children
five domains of edi
Five Domains of EDI
  • Physical Health and Wellbeing
  • Social Knowledge & Competence
  • Emotional Health & Maturity
  • Language & Cognitive Development
  • Communication Skills & General Knowledge
on track not on track
On Track &Not on Track

Children with EDI scores in the very ready or readypercentile groups are considered to be ON TRACK.

  • On track is defined as groups of children who scored between the 26th and 100th percentiles for each EDI domain. These scores indicate higher readiness to learn levels.

Children with EDI scores in the at-riskor vulnerable percentile groups are considered to be NOT ON TRACK.

  • Not on track is defined as groups of children who scored below the 26th percentile for each EDI domain. These scores indicate lower readiness to learn levels.

Physical Health and Wellbeing

  • gross and fine motor skills
  • holding a pencil
  • running on the playground
  • motor coordination
  • adequate energy levels for classroom activities
  • independence in looking after own needs
  • daily living skills
social knowledge competence
Social Knowledge & Competence
  • curiosity about the world/eagerness to try new experiences
  • knowledge of standards of acceptable behaviour
  • ability to control own behaviour
  • appropriate respect for adult authority
  • Cooperation / following rules
  • ability to play and work with other children
emotional health maturity
Emotional Health & Maturity
  • ability to reflect before acting
  • a balance between too fearful and too impulsive
  • ability to deal with feelings at the age-appropriate level
  • empathic response to other people's feelings
language cognitive development
Language & Cognitive Development
  • reading awareness
  • age-appropriate reading and writing skills
  • age-appropriate numeracy skills
  • board games
  • ability to understand similarities and differences
  • ability to recite back specific pieces of information from memory
communication skills general knowledge
Communication Skills & General Knowledge
  • skills to communicate needs and wants in socially appropriate ways
  • symbolic use of language
  • storytelling
  • age-appropriate knowledge about the life and world around
community action plan cap
Community Action Plan (CAP)
  • One of the most important products of the UEY project
  • Evidence based document
  • Recommendations designed to support and bolster early childhood development in Pictou Antigonish Guysborough
community action plan areas for action
Community Action Plan Areas for Action

1. Inequality of Outcomes & Socio-economic Variables

2. What is Happening to Our Boys?

3. Positive Parenting

4. Barriers to participation & Underutilization of Resources

5. Measuring Our Children’s School Readiness


1. Inequality of Outcomes & Socio-economic Variables

  • About 22% of children in PAG are living in single-parent families, c.f. 15% Canadian PIDACS
  • The negative effects on children’s outcomes arise from the associated challenges of being a single-parent (low income, low parental education, barriers to participation in the form of resources and transportation and increased prevalence of depression).
  • When it comes to children’s scores on Developmental Skills, Behavioural Outcomes and Health Outcomes, the greatest inequality of outcomes are associated with low family income, themother’s level of education and the sex of the child.
  • Children living in families with incomes below $30,000 per year were more likely to have low number knowledge scores and low pre-literacy skills. They were also more likely to exhibit problems with inattention and have asthma.
  • Children living in families in which the mother was unemployed were more likely to exhibit poor social behaviour.
  • Children living in families in which the mother had not completed secondary school were also prone to having poor scores on the three cognitive outcomes, as well as having poor general health and asthma.
  • Children whose father did not complete secondary school were more likely to have low pre-literacy skills.


Sex of the child was among the most prominent variable in inequality of outcomes.

Compared with the girls, boys were more likely to have poor number knowledge and pre-literacy skills, exhibit poor social behaviour and inattention and suffer from asthma.

Boys are far less likely than girls to self- engage in literacy related activities.

Boys spend more time watching TV than girls, 1.9 hrs vs. 1.6hrs

Parents are slightly more likely to take boys outside to play (36% c.f. 31% for girls)

Boys are more involved in organized (1.4 times per week) and unorganized sports (4.9 times per week), girls 1.1 and 4.2 times per week respectively

Boys were more likely than girls to use ice rinks/skiing facilities, 64% c.f. 52%

In terms of school readiness (EDI), girls are more ready to learn than boys across all domains.

3 parenting
3. Parenting

Only 49% of the families displayed a positive or “authoritative” parenting style, which is defined as having an equal balance of love, support and authority.  This is below the Canadian PIDACS average of 56%.

In contrast,13%of the families displayed “permissive” parenting style (high on love and support, but low on authority), comparable to 9% for Canadian PIDACS average.

Percentages of Authoritarian and Neglectful were comparable.

Families in which the father was unemployed were less likely to demonstrate authoritative parenting (38%).

Unemployed mothers have more of a challenge accessing programs for their children if they’re not available nearby.

Children in low-income families (66%) or in which the mother had not completed secondary school (57%) were less likely to be read to at least once a day.


Some more factors influencing parenting:

  • In three of the eight parent-child interactive daily activities, PAG parents were less engaged than Canadian parents as a whole. These activities included taking the child out to play, teaching the child to print letters and numbers, and playing cards or board games. 
  • The exception: parental engagement to teach words was above average (69% c.f. Canadian PIDACS average of 63%). This reflects EDI Language Cognitive Development results as well.
  • In general, when comparing PAG parents’ engagement to Canada PIDACS they are more likely to teach words, watch television or sing songs. They are significantly less likely to take their kids outside to play. For example, “Takes him or her outside to play”: 33% versus 47% Canadian PIDACS.
  • Another exception: our kids are more self-engaged in literacy-related activities.
4 barriers to participation underutilization of resources
4.Barriers to Participation & Underutilization of Resources

programs not available at convenient times (51%)

programs only available to older children (50%)

there was not enough time to participate(42%)

programs not available nearby (42%)

41% of parents said that they were unaware such services were available

Inconvenient times and not enough time were more of a barrier to employed parents.

Unemployed mothers had more of a challenge if programs were not available nearby.

Forty percent reported “too expensive” as a barrier, this is higher than the 34% in the Canadian PIDACS average.

Twenty-seven percent cited transportation as a barrier, also significantly higher than the comparison population (18%)


5. Measuring Our Children’s School Readiness

Children in PAG score slightly lower across all developmental domains than the control cohort, except in language &cognitive development.

On the Multiple Challenge Index, when a child scores low on 9 or more of the 16 sub-domains, 5.3% of PAG kids compared with 3.9% Normative II.

Tri-County Overview

Physical Health & Wellbeing: 28% NOT ON TRACK

Social Knowledge & Competence: 36% NOT ON TRACK

Emotional Health & Maturity: 36% NOT ON TRACK

Language & Cognitive Development: 12% NOT ON TRACK

Communication Skills & General Knowledge: 38% NOT ON TRACK

Tri-County Comparison

Percentage of vulnerable children (scoring in lowest 10th percentile on one or more scales): Pictou: 24.2%, Antigonish: 24.7%, Guysborough: 32.6%

early years networks
Early Years Networks
  • Reviewed the Community Action Plan
  • What could we do in response to the data/action plan?
  • Guysborough Early Years Network has been actively engaged in creating collaborative spaces for program delivery
  • Guysborough Early Years Network planned a 2-4 year check in. Held October 2010
  • Antigonish Early Years Network planned a Early Years Wellness Day. Held March 23, 2011
  • Strait Richmond planning a Wellness day May 2011
questions community input

Community Input