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Review of Toronto Early Learning and Child Care Services
March 2021

"The economic impact of investment in the child care sector includes three major facets: It is a job creator for those directly employed in the sector and for those who participate in the sector’s supply chain.; It creates opportunities for parents to increase their labour force participation. (As a job creator and a job facilitator it impacts tax revenue and GDP growth).; It positively impacts children by enhancing learning and health, which influences their future earnings and wellbeing, and contributions to the broader community."

COVID-19 First Phase Response Plan: A federal municipal partnership to model sustainable quality early learning and childcare (ELCC) services across Canada
December 2020

"This proposal outlines an immediate $500 M Federal granting program to municipalities to demonstrate best practices in ELCC delivery through investments in access, workforce development and service development, planning and oversight. Designed to rapidly expand child care access, these investments will also identify the resources and measures required to create a pan Canadian system of public, sustainable, high quality early learning and childcare."

Canada’s woeful track record on children set to get worse with COVID-19 pandemic
October 19, 2020

"Strong, focused and equitable policies to support children are needed now more than ever. Now that we have seen decades of consistent evidence of inequity and poverty, Canadian policy makers should not need to see another report. They need to take action. Canada’s children deserve better. They need federal efforts to rectify the obvious opportunity gaps. Canada’s track record leaves out too many: it needs to do better. Not tomorrow, today."

A Year-By-Year Approach to Investing in Early Learning and Child Care
October 16, 2020

"Fair compensation and supported working conditions are a proven formula for incenting ECE graduates to return to the sector. For example, almost half of the 53,000 registered educators in Ontario’s College of ECEs do not work in licensed child care, largely because of low wages and poor working conditions. Nova Scotia has demonstrated it is possible to bring back and retain these skilled workers. When the province rolled out its universal pre-primary school program, 70% of the educator positions were filled by certified ECEs who returned to the profession. Many moved back to N.S. to work in the program. It is a striking example of how recruitment prospects really change when workers are paid commensurate to
their training and skills."

Ten reasons to expand public kindergarten
September 29, 2020

"Two-years of kindergarten delivered within the school system leverages existing investments within public education and ameliorates several issues facing families, communities and government: High rates of illiteracy (including reading, writing and numeracy) that are a drag on the economic futures; Growing special education demands fueled by an increase in academic and language gaps and behavior challenges that are easier to address when interventions begin early; Increasing child care costs to families that reduce parental, particularly the labor force participation of mothers."

Pandemic realities offer a chance to address Canada’s long legacy of broken promises on child care
The Globe and Mail, September 25, 2020

"The key is quality, not just quantity. And quality depends on well-trained and resourced educators. Poor pay and working conditions drive qualified educators out of the field. Quality concerns are found everywhere, including in Quebec, the leader in affordable child care."

Investing in Early Learning and Child Care: A Framework for Federal Financing
A memorandum to the Ministry of Finance, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office
September 16, 2020

"A system that addresses the needs of parents and children requires building more physical infrastructure, and more affordable access, but critically it requires more educators. This involves not just better wages and benefits, but an infrastructure that sustains quality work including access to excellence in pre- and in-service training; pedagogical leadership, and the availability of special needs specialists and family support workers to help address child/family needs, as in most schools."

Coronavirus school closures could widen inequities for our youngest students
The Conversation, June 22, 2020

"The coronavirus has uncovered myriad inequities within systems of education, from childrens’ and families’ access to resources, to the supportive and safe environments that are necessary for optimal learning. Inequities are exponentially greater in times of crisis. In Canada, more than 2.3 million primary-age children remain at home. Challenges of inequity were immediately apparent as public school authorities began responding. "

Better public child care is the engine we need for recovery post-coronavirus
The Conversation, June 15, 2020

"As of June 12, child-care centres in Ontario can open, following reopenings in most regions of Québec. But while these child-care centres are doing their part to support families in the post-coronavirus recovery, and Ontario is offering some extra help, Canada needs to find economically efficient ways of supporting child-care programs while simultaneously incentivizing quality. In so doing, it would follow some of the smartest approaches to economic recovery, development and social wellness already evidenced in parts of Canada and the world."

Early Years Study 4: Thriving Kids, Thriving Society
February 2020

The fourth landmark study, titled Early Years Study 4: Thriving Kids, Thriving Society, led by the Honourable Margaret McCain, builds on over 20 years of research and calls for an annual investment of $8 billion to bring Canada up to the OECD average enrolment rate for early childhood education.

OECD Governance Models
December 2019

Governance, administration, service providers, educator training early childhood programs in selected OECD countries

ELCC Innovation ToolKit
September 2019

This project aims to foster quality in the Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) sector by identifying evaluations of innovative approaches to ELCC in Canada that could be scaled to spread their impact.

The ELCC Innovation ToolKit identifies innovations in the following areas: ELCC governance; funding; inclusion and equitable access; the learning environment including curriculum, program supports, transitions to kindergarten and parent engagement; the workforce including educator training, professional development, compensation and recognition; and monitoring and accountability.

Full-day Kindergarten is what Ontario needs for a stable future
The Conversation, February 10, 2019

"Early childhood research anchored in brain development showed that up to a third of students started Grade 1 so far behind they never caught up. By the time they entered school it was both very difficult and very expensive to make up for the foundational skills they missed during their early years."

Policy Oversight of Outdoor Play in Early Childhood Education Setting in Canadian Provinces and Territories
February 2019

"This report provides an overview of Canadian provincial and territorial perspectives of outdoor play in child care and kindergarten settings. It reviews curriculum frameworks that guide early childhood practice and the legislative oversight of early childhood environments to assess potential contradictions. While legislation can be a barrier to outdoor play, the paper finds other restrictive factors including educator/parent perceptions, lack of green space, fear of litigation, restrictive standards and funding mechanisms.  The overarching barrier to outdoor play is limited access to early childhood programs."

UNICEF Report Card 15: The Equalizer: How Education Creates Fairness for Children in Canada
October 2018

"The report measures the rights and well-being of children in rich countries over the past 18 years. UNICEF compares countries so they can learn and do better. The 2018 UNICEF Report Card 15 is focused on equality in education."

Special thanks to from UNICEF Canada went to Kerry McCuaig and Dr. Emis Akbari, Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development, University of Toronto, for producing data and analysis for early child education in Canada.

Policy Briefing Note: The Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce
October 2017

Excerpt: "More than 190,000 people are part of Canada’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce. ECEC workers are employed in early childhood programs operated by non-profit agencies and for-profit companies. They work in the public sector in postsecondary institutions, for school boards, and for local and provincial governments. They also work in private homes as unregulated child care providers, as independent contractors for regulated child care agencies, and as live-in nannies."

Early childhood services that work for children, families and islanders
June 2017

"The research is designed to evaluate: The effects of the continuous early years program participation on children’s readiness for school; The value of a focused professional development agenda on child outcomes; The impact of public investments in early years programming on child outcomes."

Canada must invest more in early childhood education, says new report
The Conversation, February 7, 2018

"A trend is emerging in education in Canada: We are recognizing that early childhood education is beneficial for children, for families, for everyone.

Provinces and territories are focusing more attention on programs for preschoolers and the federal government is prepared to invest billions of dollars in child care in the coming decade."

The role of public policies in promoting equity in early childhood, in the Global Report on Equity Early Childhood

"Early childhood is the most effective and cost-efficient time to address inequalities and break intergenerational cycles of disadvantage."

‘Dose-Response’ Relations Between Participation in Integrated Early Childhood Services and Children's Early Development
April 2016

"This study investigated the effects of participation levels (dose) on child development (response) in five school sites offering integrated early childhood services as part of the Toronto First Duty (TFD) demonstration project. The TFD model offered an integrated school-based service array for children under 6, including public school kindergarten, childcare, family literacy, parenting supports and other early childhood services. While investigating program dose effects, this study also considered the social ecology of the child, including family- and school-level characteristics that might alter the effectiveness of community-level service integration efforts to improve child development outcomes in kindergarten as children enter school."

Child Care in New Brunswick: The Social & Economic Impacts
November 2015

"This study was commissioned by the New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to support the work of its Child Care Taskforce. The authors were asked to develop a cost benefit analysis of the potential social and economic impacts of public spending on child care in the province. They were also asked to provide recommendations on child care service delivery based on best practices in other Canadian jurisdictions."

Feasibility Study of Universal, Affordable Daycare in the Northwest Territories
June 2015

"This study builds on a wide body of research from across disciplines that documents the benefits of early childhood education and care (ECEC) for children, families and society. The evidence suggests that accessible, quality ECEC would deliver similar benefits to the Northwest Territories. The key informant and survey and focus group participants who shared their views as part of the study were aware of the connections between ECEC and child, family and societal well-being. Using NWT data, the economic analysis predicts a similar ratio of costs to benefits from public spending on ECEC as found in studies of comparable regions. The GNWT motion commissioning this study on the feasibility of universal daycare reflects the attention policy-makers across Canada and internationally are affording early childhood education and care."

Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation
April 2015

"The report offers recommendations to build a workforce that is unified by the foundation of the science of child development and early learning and the shared knowledge and competencies that are needed to provide consistent, high-quality support for the development and early learning of children from birth through age 8."

Schools at the Centre: Findings from Case Studies Exploring Seamless Early Learning in Ontario (pdf)
December 2014

The Schools at the Centre study explores the impact of full day kindergarten and extended hours programming on educators, families and early years administrators in three Ontario regions. By exploring the processes and partnerships developed between school boards, regional governments and community organizations the researchers were able to uncover lessons to inform policy and practice. The aim of the study is to strengthen child and family centred services in communities.

The Early Childhood Education Report 2014
November 2014

"The immediate and long-term benefits of quality early childhood eduacation (ECE) for children and society are well documented.  Early childhood educaiton is a job creator in its own right, while supporting parents as they work or upgrade their skills."

The Mighty O!
October 2014

"For Emis Akbari, a post-doc at OISE’s Atkinson Centre, writing a children’s book was never a career aspiration. Reconnecting with childhood friends Brian and Laura Veloso via Facebook, she learned that their third child Owen, now six, had been born with Hyperplasmic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a rare and complex congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart is critically underdeveloped."

Ontario's Full-day Kindergarten: A Bold Public Policy Initiative (pdf)
June 2014

Can Ontario's universal full-day kindergarten program help to level the playing field? The list of possibilities is long: closing the gap of language experience of kids living in poverty, reaching all vulnerable kids, including those in the middle class, contributing support to families who need child care, and ensuring that care and education are combined in high quality programs that boost overall child development as well as academic skills and economic success. Research has shown that many of these goals can be accomplished by high quality universal early childhood programs.

Too Far From Perfect: A Father-Daughter Conversation about Public Education
September 2013

Too Far from Perfect is based on the reflections of a Toronto high school student about her learning journey from pre-school to grade 12. Through a dialogue with her father, educator Charles Pascal, Tai Notar describes the lessons learned about what has made the big difference to her learning and the educational aspirations of her peers. While Tai’s focus in on catching teachers and others doing things right, her narrative also calls attention to things that need to change. In this regard, Tai provides some provocative ideas about how public education can move closer to perfect. This father-daughter conversation is a must read for teachers and parents who believe that we need to listen more carefully to the authentic stories of our children and students.

Maternal Employment Rates (pdf)
July 31, 2013

Excerpt: "Data on maternal employment rates are presented both by age of youngest child and by the number of dependent children under age 15. Employment rates refer to the annual average calculated from various national employment or household surveys and from the European Labour Force Survey. There is yet no comprehensive regular annual data collection of maternal (or parental) employment across OECD countries. Data are presented for 2009 or the most recent year available (see the comparability and data issues section for details on the definition of paid employment)."

Early Learning and Early Childhood Education - An Accord by the Association of Canadian Deans of Education (pdf)
May, 2013

The Accord on Early Learning and  Early Childhood Education by the Association of Canadian Deans of Education (ACDE) seeks to address the uneven provision of quality early learning experiences by highlighting practices that focus on the learning and care of all children; promoting improved, better connected education for preschool and elementary children; and recognizing educator knowledge as vital to effective education for early learners and their families.  It was launched at the Canadian Society for Studies in Education Conference, Victoria, B.C. on June 2. 

One School Board's Response to "The Munchkin Invasion: Does Full-Day Kindergarten deliver?" Maclean’s Magazine, May 27, 2013 (pdf)
May 22, 2013

Article by MaryLou Mackie and Scott Podrebarac of the Waterloo Region District School Board: Does Full Day Kindergarten deliver? Early indicators point to an enthusiastic "Yes!"  The experience of the Waterloo Region District School Board, a district that has embraced both Full Day Kindergarten (FDK), and the vision of extended Before and After school programs articulated in Charles Pascal’s, With our Best Future in Mind, suggests that there are immediate and sustained gains for children.

Reviewing the Evidence on Early Education:  Where MacLean’s Went Wrong
An Evidence-Based Response to Maclean’s Article on Early Child Education (pdf)
May 16, 2013

Article by Charles Pascal and Janette Pelletier: Full day kindergarten for four and five year olds in Ontario has many champions – parents, educators, researchers and the children themselves.  But it does have its detractors.   In this response to The Munchkin Invasion appearing in the May 27/2013 issue of MacLean’s magazine, Charles Pascal, the author of Ontario’s blueprint for early learning, and researcher Janette Pelletier discuss the pitfalls of using disconnected research to draw broad policy conclusions.

Serving All Children to Catch the Most Vulnerable (html)
Healthcare Quarterly Vol. 15 Special Issue, 2012

Article by Kerry McCuaig: "The needs of modern families have changed; the services designed to support them have not. Children's programming in Canada is divided into three distinct streams – education, child care, and family and intervention supports.... The result is service silos. Children and families don't experience their lives in silos; their needs can't be dissected and addressed in isolation."

Trends in Early Education and Child Care (pdf)
July 2012

Report by Kerry McCuaig, Jane Bertrand and Stuart Shanker: "Over the last few decades the science of early development has witnessed explosive growth. New technologies confirm that infancy and early childhood are the first and most critical phases of human development. A child’s earliest experiences shape the structure of genes and the architecture of the developing brain. At the same time families have changed, becoming more diverse and are raising young children in circumstances that are significantly more complex, and for many, more stressful."

How Research in Early Learning Can Help Make a Decision on Election Day (pdf)
October 2011

Lots of studies show us that the early years are crucial for how we manage as adults. We have an election coming up tomorrow. We encourage you to think about research findings about our children’s development. Please cast your vote thinking about what matters for our children.

An Investigation of the Career Paths of Internationally Trained Early Childhood Educators Transitioning into Early Learning Programs (pdf)
August 2011

The current research initiative examines the pathway to employment in the field of early childhood education for internationally trained professionals. In particular, the study's aim is to investigate the experiences of internationally trained professionals in the ECE Bridging Program (first step in the accreditation process in Ontario for internationally trained educators). The study also explored the experiences of participants in applying for jobs prior to and after achieving their ECE equivalency. The second goal was to explore whether international education credentials had any impact on employability. .

The Cost-Benefits of Ontario's Early Learning Program
August 30, 2010

Robert Fairholm, a director of the Centre for Spatial Economics (CSE), brings his 20 years of experience in economic analysis, modeling and forecasting to quantify the benefits of new public spending on young children revealing some startling findings.

Symposium: Pedagogical Leadership: Lead From Where You Stand
February 1, 2010

The Atkinson Centre joined Ryerson University, George Brown College, and the Child Care Resource and Research Unit in sponsoring a Symposium on "Pedagogical Leadership: Lead From Where You Stand" to discuss the recommendations for staffing Ontario's new Early Learning Programs and Child and Family Centre.

Atkinson Letter

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Research Bulletins

  • Research Bulletin: Playing Favorites is Bad for Child Health (pdf)
    Excerpt: "In a study recently published in Social Sciences and Medicine, PhD student Dillon Browne and psychologist Jennifer Jenkins sought to determine if being a disfavored sibling can have negative consequences in terms of general health. Browne and Jenkins followed 501 families over a period of 18 months as part of an investigation called the Kids, Families, Places Study, led by Dr. Jenkins at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education..."
  • Research Bulletin: Playing Favorites is Bad for Everyone (pdf)
    Excerpt: "In a study recently published in the journal of Developmental Psychology, psychologist Jean-Christophe Meunier and his colleagues at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education tested to see if playing favorites, as a family style, has negative consequences for all children in the family, rather than just the disfavored child."
  • Research Bulletin: Siblings Teaching Siblings (pdf)
    Excerpt: "Research demonstrates that young children teach one another, showing individual differences in the amount of teaching they do and the strategies they use. There is a special teacher-learner relationship among siblings, in particular.... We developed a measure to capture teaching between siblings when the youngest child was age 3 and their older sibling between 4-8 years old..."
  • Research Bulletin: Genes, Experience and Parenting Behaviour (pdf)
    Excerpt: "In a recent study, Dr. Rossana Bisceglia and her colleagues wanted to see what factors affected mothers' ability to provide sensitive care to their children. The hypothesis was that both biological and environmental variables would impact mothers’ sensitivity, and that certain combinations of factors would be more detrimental to parenting than others."

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