The non-profit organization, Champions for Children held their first meeting of 2016 to discuss ways to continue to improve the early development of children in the community of Elk Point. The coalition was formed as part of Alberta’s Early Childhood Development mapping initiative just over five years ago. The initial study was completed and now the Town has been given additional funding to continue its research, says coalition member Mel Poulin.
“We’re in the starting process, again,” Poulin explains Champions for Children has done two separate studies on groups of children in Elk Point. “The study will pull demographic information and then we can use that information to determine what kind of resources we need to support that demographic in our community.” Elk Point being included in the provincial study is very important in securing the resources needed to better the community, explains Poulin, “having a coalition here been that’s we are included in that conversation, as a community, as a whole, it is very important to gather as much information as we can from [the study].”
“We a coalition for early childhood, driven by health, human resources and education,” in the first study students in Kindergarten were surveyed and studied to find benchmarks in development, as well as determine what role economic factors played on development. Elk Point, being considered a have-not community, with fewer resources than surrounding communities, fared very well in the study. In fact the town defied what the thesis going into the study was, ‘the better the services and wealthier the community, the better the development.’
This time around, the study will look at Kindergarten students again, explains Poulin, “it’s that piece when you’re finished with the health clinic, [children] get needles at 18 months and then they don’t really see them again until they are four or five years old, then not again until they go to school. This is to support their development in between those years.”
Some of the ideas that have sprung from the previous studies are to build a toy lending library and a safe pick-up and drop-off zone for parents who share custody. Poulin says it’s too early to say that either of these ideas will formulate, but they are examples of what the group hopes to accomplish.