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Events > Summer Institute 2017

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The 14th Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development

Addressing Inequity in Canada through Early Childhood Education

June 2, 2017
OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Main Floor Library, Toronto, Ontario






The Summer Institute is an annual collaboration between the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College and the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto. The Institute strives to offer timely information to inform research, policy and practice.

Research tells us that quality early childhood education can be a game-changer for children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Yet many policies and practices prevent racialized, Indigenous and vulnerable children from participating in early childhood programs or stream them into low quality settings.

A new framework for early learning and childcare is in development. Canadian jurisdictions are using the occasion to update their early childhood policies. It is important that change be informed by evidence and viewed through an equity lens.


Kang Lee

Dr. Kang Lee

Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Dr. Lee uses psychophysical methods to study how children and adults process both stable and dynamic information in a face. This includes how children and adults perceive, encode and recognize different kinds of faces, and how children and adults detect and interpret others’ gaze in various social contexts. In addition, he explores neuro-physiological correlates of face processing in children and adults.

Keynote Presentation: Racial biases in early childhood and how to combat them

If racial recognition is innate what are the implications for societies committed to equity? Racism reproduces through children, yet much of what is assumed about children’s knowledge or race, and how they have come to acquire it, is changing.



Keith McCrady

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto

Mr. McCrady is an Ojibway and Cree from the Bear Clan and was raised traditionally by both parents, receiving traditional teachings from his father, community members and grandfather. Keith was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario and raised in Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek (formerly Rocky Bay First Nation); Residing in Toronto for the last 7 years.  Keith is a proud father of 4 children ranging in ages 17, 18, 20, & 22 years old.

Keith is currently employed full-time for the past 8 years and is Senior Supervisor of the Scarborough Child and Family Life Centre & Child Care and Aboriginal Head Start Programs for Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. Keith has been working with aboriginal children and families for over 20 years, been a foster parent to over 30 aboriginal children and has won the Prime Ministers Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education; Certificate of Excellence.

Keynote Presentation: Truth and Reconciliation and the Duty of Early Childhood Education and Care

Culturally appropriate early education for Indigenous families is a key demand of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What does that mean in terms of early years education and practice?


Craig Alexander

Craig Alexander

Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, The Conference Board of Canada

Craig Alexander crosses the country each year giving presentations on the state of the economy and policy issues. He is a strong supporter of literacy and a champion of the charitable sector. Mr. Alexander brings over 19 years of experience in the private sector as an economic and financial forecaster to the position of senior vice-president and chief economist with the Conference Board of Canada. Prior to joining the private sector, he spent four years as an economist at Statistics Canada.

Keynote Presentation: The Cost of Inequity and the Role of Early Childhood Education in Closing the Gap

Canadians pay for inequity in real financial terms but inequity also erodes social cohesion, sustainability and democracy. Early education is an effective intervention, playing multiple roles promoting women’s equity, supporting new Canadians, reducing poverty and instilling the values of a democratic society.

Andre LeBon

André Lebon

President, Commission sur l’éducation à la petite enfance

A psychoeducator by training, André Lebon has run the Centre de psychoéducation du Québec. He has collaborated in the establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development. From 2003 to 2006, he was the early childhood development director at the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, where he is still acts as a consultant for early childhood. His most recent assignment has been to oversee the development of the Observatoire des tout-petits project, launched in April 2016.

Keynote Presentation: What happened to Quebec's great experiment in child care for all?

Quebec spends 1 percent of its GDP on child care, yet quality is deteriorating and children from low income families are less likely to attend. What lessons can the rest of Canada learn from Quebec’s 20-year journey towards universal care?



Challenging the Dialogue in Professional Training

This workshop challenges the way educators talk and teach about diversity in ECEC. We will compare new innovations to more traditional ways of approaching and measuring “diversity” and think about how these varying methods respect and inform the experience of ECE students. We consider the importance of representation, creating space for conversation and critical thinking, and the possibility of re-imagining our classrooms, and what this might offer the field.

RACHEL BROPHY, Professor, School of Early Childhood, George Brown College
BERNICE CIPPARRONE MCLEOD, Professor, School of Early Childhood, George Brown College

New Times for Early Education and Care in Ontario

New opportunities for families, educators and providers are opening in Ontario. The province is committed to the largest single expansion of childcare in its history. The federal government is again playing a role in ECEC after a long absence. Local governments have new responsibilities for planning and managing a wider scope of service providers. This workshop helps providers and practitioners understand the new developments and how they can participate.

SHANNON FULLER, Assistant Deputy Minister, Early Years Division, Ministry of Education

Supporting transitions for children with additional support needs

Children’s transition into school is an emotional and complex time for any family. This transition may be even more challenging for families with children with additional support needs. Four Government of Manitoba departments/branches recently released an early childhood transition protocol to guide multidisciplinary partners in easing the transition of young children from their early learning program into school. The protocol helps service partners to reflect on any changes that may be needed within each agency’s own processes.

DEBRA MAYER, Early Childhood Education Consultant, Manitoba Education and Training

Promising practices from Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities

Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities provides culturally appropriate early childhood development programs for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children (3-5 years old) and their families living off reserve in 134 communities across Canada. The six guiding program components of Indigenous culture and languages, education, health promotion, nutrition, social support and parental and family involvement are linked to performance measurement and evaluation results describing program delivery and outcomes for children, families and their communities.

JANET HARE, Policy Analyst, Public Health Agency of Canada
STEPHANIE CERUTTI, Research Analyst, Public Health Agency of Canada

The role of those who work with young children is inherently feminist

This workshop challenges ECEs to reconsider their work and the role they play in society. It shares an appreciation for how ECEs can critically reflect on normative expectations for working parents and how the relationship formed between mothers and ECEs has the potential to push public policy. Additionally, the findings support an advocacy role that professionals can play in advancing the position of both the field and working families.

LISA MCCORQUODALE, Faculty, Fanshawe College

Influence of educator and child expectations on children’s self-regulation and literacy outcomes in kindergarten

This workshop explores the influence of educator and child expectations on children’s self-regulation and literacy outcomes in kindergarten. Despite the growing body of literature on the factors that influence student achievement and educational outcomes, there is limited research exploring how these factors may influence each other when both educator and child expectations are taken into consideration. Furthermore, most of the literature exploring these relationships involves older students. More research is needed to understand these relationships with children in the early years.

KRISTY TIMMONS, Doctoral Student, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study
JANETTE PELLETIER, Professor, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study

The Abecedarian approach to closing the equity gap

The Abecedarian approach is internationally recognized as a strong, evidence-based early childhood intervention strategy, designed for families living with a wide range of disadvantages. This session provides an overview of the Abecedarian project in Manitoba, highlighting the international body of research, preliminary findings from the Manitoba intervention, new initiatives within the project, and the ongoing training, mentoring and support offered to ECEs implementing the approach.

MELANIE D'SOUZA, Research Faculty, School of Health Sciences and Community Services, Red River College

Raising the Village: Providing data on child well-being to support equitable decision making

Raising the Village (Toronto.ca/raisingthevillage) is an initiative of the Toronto Child and Family Network, a collaboration between many child/family service providers. Raising the Village uses data from various sources to establish a common outcomes measurement framework. This workshop highlights the tools and resources developed to inform equitable service planning, including the race and gender toolkits and the Child and Family Inequities Score (a composite index of several socioeconomic variables). These innovative tools can inform collaborative service planning to address inequities.

TAMARA AUGSTEN, Policy Development Officer, City of Toronto, Children’s Services
LORRAINE MCLEOD, Manager, City of Toronto, Children’s Services

Equity in Early Childhood Education and Care: What the research says

The capacity of early childhood education and care to promote equity is dependent on the policy it operates under, the practice it fosters and knowledge of early childhood environments and their impacts. This workshop uses the Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development as a resource for policy development, educator training and practice and reveals what we know, and what we do not know, about how inequity impacts children’s development.

ISABELLE VINET, General Coordinator, Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development and Executive Director, Centre de Psycho-Éducation du Québec

Understanding usage patterns and oversight of unlicenced family child care in Canada

Considering the tragedies that have occurred in unlicensed care it is puzzling that governments continue to allow unlicensed family child care to operate. Despite the high stakes even basic information about unlicensed care, such as the number of children in care and the types of families using the care are unknown. This session provides information on usage rates based on parent reports from a national dataset. Different oversight models for unlicensed care and the costs associated with these are discussed in light of the data.

MICHAL PERLMAN, Associate Professor, University of Toronto
LINDA WHITE, Associate Professor, University of Toronto
PETR VARMUZA, Doctoral Student, University of Toronto

Social justice education in the early years

Families arrive in early childhood programs with histories in race, social class and immigration status. They may also bring Indigenous ways of knowing and have expectations that practitioners are not prepared for. Policy development and practice in the early years can make the transition from dominant assumptions about children and families to a social justice paradigm that recognizes the role of power and privilege in early child and family support programs.

ZEENAT JANMOHAMED, Chair, George Brown College, School of Social and Community Services, School of Deaf and Deafblind Studies

The impact of curriculum approaches on equity in early childhood education settings

Examining the Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten curriculum in light of Te Whariki (New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum) and the Reggio Emilia philosophy, participants learn how to identify the “funds of knowledge” that support children’s learning and family engagement in early childhood education, and their influence on democratic participation, equity and inclusion.

KAMINI KAMDAR, Kindergarten Teacher, York Region District School Board

How inequality is shaping child and youth well-being

The UNICEF Index of Child Inequity reveals how far Canada allows the most disadvantaged children to fall behind the “average” child. The swirling debates about broad income inequality in Canada have largely overlooked the impacts on children. The session shows how inequality is shaping child and youth well-being. Inequality starts early, therefore we have to intervene early.

LISA WOLFF, Director, Policy & Education, UNICEF Canada

Engaging fathers in young children’s learning

Children learn important skills through how their fathers play, read and interact with them. Attachment theory shows that men’s style of interacting with their children supports children’s academic success. Participants will gain an understanding of the literature and discuss ways to engage fathers to support an equitable education for children.

BRIAN RUSSELL, Provincial Coordinator, Dad Central Ontario

Indigenous perspective on environmental inquiry in the early years

Have you ever wondered how Indigenous perspectives relate to learning about the environment in the early years? Have you ever wondered what Indigenous perspectives and principles apply to all of us, and how these can be supported in any learning environment? This session hopes to light the fire of your professional inquiry by exploring how an Indigenous lens to environmental inquiry transforms learning in the early years.

HOPI MARTIN, Kindergarten Teacher, Toronto District School Board and Early Years Flextime PhD Candidate, OISE, University of Toronto
HALEY HIGDON, Educator, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto and Project Lead, Natural Curiosity

Early Childhood Education and Care, the great equalizer

Early childhood education and care viewed through an equity lens must consider who is served (the child); who is doing the labour (their gender, race, immigration status); where the labour is being performed (as a public service, as a market service, in private households); and under what conditions (waged, unwaged, unionized/non unionized etc.) — all of these factors impact the quality of services, the family (parental employment,gender equality, work/life balance)and society (equity gap/social cohesion/inclusion).

EMIS AKBARI, Professor of Early Childhood, George Brown College

Leadership development for equity in early childhood settings

Research links high-calibre leadership to better outcomes for young children. Effective leadership is vital to the success of education and care setting; and we recognize that without skilled and committed leaders to help shape teaching and learning, the opportunity to create and sustain high-quality learning environments is minimized. Leadership can be professionally developed and includes elements that recognize identity, influence and responsibility, respect and purpose.

MIRANDA MACKIE, Manager of Services – Special Needs Resourcing, Child & Community Resources
NOREEN MCCHESNEY, Manager of Services, OEYCPC/Specialized Services, Child & Community Resources

Culturally relevant family engagement strategies for the classroom

A critical step in making schools places where all children can learn is for educators to first see how their own cultural values operate in the classroom. This includes how they expect children to take part in discussions, to whether they expect classroom materials to be shared or used individually and whether they will, or will not, engage families.

MICHELLE MUNROE, Manager, Parent Engagement, Toronto District School Board
NANCY ANGEVINE, Family Engagement Consultant, With Equal Step


Excellence Award - Native Child and Family Services of TorontoNative Child and Family Services of Toronto

Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) was founded in 1986 by concerned members of Toronto’s Native community. The founders were concerned about the high number of children in the care of Children’s Aid Societies and by the issues, such as poverty, addictions, family violence, and homelessness, confronting Native families in the city. The founders were further concerned that while the Native family had many issues before it, few services within the mainstream sector were available to meet the needs of an increasingly voiceless and marginalized community.

The founders were guided by a vision that saw the development of a single point of access to a host of needed services all under the control and guidance of the community itself. Important features of such services were that they be family and child focused, holistic in their orientation, integrated, and preventative, with a strong Native cultural base as their foundation.

After more than 20 years, the Agency has gone from an $80,000 budget with two staff to an Agency of 180 staff and a service budget of over $20 million. It has a broad mix of services, multiple funders, is a Society under the Child and Family Services Act, a United Way member, a registered charity and in 1999 the winner of the Ruth Atkinson Hindmarsh Award for best practices in the service of children. Major funders include the Province of Ontario, United Way Toronto, the City of Toronto, the Government of Canada, the Toronto Community Foundation, and the Royal Bank of Canada.

NCFST is a Children’s Aid Society under the Child and Family Services Act. As such we have a mandate to protect children from all forms of maltreatment and to provide residential care for those children who need it.

Although we take the protection and care of our children very seriously, we recognize that we must do what we can to help families and children who need assistance. As a result, we see our responsibilities as including the provision of support services to all family members.


This event is presented by George Brown College, School of Early Childhood, and University of Toronto, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education.

GBC          OISE

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