The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
Views

Voting for Canada's Kids

A Vancouver study shows why day care remains a hot campaign issue. Not just the poor need early childhood support.

By Clyde Hertzman 22 Jun 2004 | TheTyee.ca
image atom

This federal campaign, promises are flying faster than the puck at a playoff game. Early on, Paul Martin pledged several billion dollars for child care over the next five years. This isn't the first time federal Liberals have promised major action on child care. Canada's kids deserve a government that will deliver.

Over the last decade, the early childhood period (from birth to age 5) has gained a public profile and some government recognition. A National Children's Agenda was agreed to in the late 1990s, and since then there have been modest increases in federal-provincial transfer payments. While some important baby steps have been taken, we're still a long way from a comprehensive early childhood development strategy.

Yet there is now an impressive body of evidence showing that early childhood development affects health, wellbeing, academic achievement, and competence for the rest of a person's life. We know that a child's development is strongly influenced by the day-to-day qualities of the environments where he or she grows up, lives, and learns.

We also know that stark inequalities in child development emerge over the first five years of life. These inequalities are related to a range of factors, including family income and education, parenting style, neighbourhood safety and income level, and access to quality child care programs.

In other words, families do not operate on their own.

Community is critical

Children who grow up in safe and close-knit communities do better, in general, than those from dangerous and socially fragmented neighbourhoods. Access to quality child care and developmental programs and services provides important benefits for all Canadian children. This means that society is involved in early child development, whether we want to address our role or not.

Publicly, we spend more than $6,000 per child on K-12 education. But we spend less than one-sixth of this amount between birth and 5 years. This cutoff point makes no sense, and the lack of adequate public funding for early childhood development (ECD) should be a central election issue.

A recent initiative in Vancouver measured kindergarten children's readiness for school in three areas of child development that have a long-term impact on health, well-being and school success. The results of this study were mapped at the neighbourhood level, postal code by postal code.

What emerged is a comprehensive picture of Vancouver as an environment for early childhood development, rich in insights as to what we, as a community, should address in order to improve the life chances of our youngest citizens. The insights from Vancouver (PDF) are relevant to communities across the country.

Universal access is key

Although the study indicated that the highest developmental risk is found in the poorest neighbourhoods in town, the largest number of children at risk is found more thinly spread across Vancouver's middle class neighbourhoods. About 20 percent of Vancouver's vulnerable children live in the three "high risk" neighbourhoods, while the other 80 percent were spread across the rest of the city.

If the purpose of an early childhood development strategy is to give all kids a better chance in life and reduce social inequality, then a strategy to provide universal access to the conditions that support healthy child development is crucial.

Vancouver has a variety of child care centres and child development programs, but funding levels are low, programs are unstable, neighbourhood accessibility varies and the mix of programs is ad hoc. Licensed child care is hard to find in areas where parents have the least education -- where children would benefit from it the most. Equalizing access to quality care child is a vital part of an effective early child development strategy. It should be a top priority for those in control of the purse strings.

The Vancouver study also tells us that children whose family backgrounds might put them at risk, but who live in mixed-income neighbourhoods, tend to do better than their counterparts in low-income neighbourhoods. In other words, mixed neighbourhoods lead to lower levels of developmental vulnerability than economically segregated poor neighbourhoods. This confirms the need for policies that build diversity, such as more social housing spread across our cities.

Some progress in Ottawa

Some progress has been made at the federal level. The recognition of child care by the federal government as a cornerstone of early childhood development and promises of increased funding are a good start. But it is only a start.

What we need is a long-term commitment, across all levels of government, to build a system of publicly funded, universal access to opportunities for development, learning and care so that all Canadian children have a fair chance at school and life success. And we need to ensure that the politicians who make it to Ottawa this month are prepared to make that commitment.


Dr. Clyde Hertzman is a Canada research chair in Population Health and Human Development, director of the Human Early Learning Partnership of BC, and a research associate of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. A summary of Dr. Hertzman's research is available at http://www.policyalternatives.ca/  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Coverage Would You Like to See More of This Year?

Take this week's poll