Ages and Stages: Evaluating The Effectiveness of a New Screening and Intervention Model for Improving Outcomes Among Children in the Community

It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men” (Douglas, 1817). This quote is incredibly profound in its meaning. It is well known that children’s early relational experiences with their primary caregiver, particularly from conception to the third year of life, ultimately lay the foundation for development throughout the lifespan. Thus, given the significance of the first few days and years of life, early identification and intervention are pivotal to the successful outcomes of children.

Early Development Instrument

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a teacher-completed questionnaire that reflects the developmental status of young children upon school entry.  The EDI data for Niagara shows that over time, the vulnerability of children in their second year of kindergarten has been increasing in the Social Competence and the Emotional Maturity domains in particular.  Between 2011 and 2015, there was a significant increase in the percentage of children vulnerable in the Social Competence domain, and vulnerability was also higher in Niagara than the provincial average for 2015.  In 2015, 14.3% of children were vulnerable in Emotional Maturity in Niagara, which was higher than the provincial average of 12.3%. If these trends continue on the current trajectory, Niagara is at risk for continuing to increase in vulnerability over and above the rest of the province.

This recent data is discouraging, particularly because social competence and emotional maturity are critical to a child’s academic, occupational, and relational success, among many other key life outcomes in the later years. In fact, it has been suggested that socio-emotional skills in Kindergarten have been linked to outcomes at 25 years of age (Jones, Greenberg, & Crowley, 2015). As such, failure to thrive in these areas is likely to have dire consequences on children’s functioning in adolescence and adulthood, which further supports the use of early developmental screening and intervention to promote socio-emotional wellbeing.

Ages and Stages Questionnaires

While the region-wide implementation of the EDI has provided a thorough understanding of the current landscape of children’s developmental in Niagara, waiting to assess developmental status in Kindergarten is simply too late.

Fortunately, services supporting young children and families across the region of Niagara understand the importance of prevention, promotion, and early intervention (well before schooling years). In collaboration with Infant Mental Health Promotion at the Hospital for Sick Children, a number of community agencies serving children and families in the Niagara Region adopted a developmental screening (i.e., Ages and Stages Questionnaires) and child-centered developmental support planning model to respond to the developmental needs of infants, toddlers, and young children from 0-5 years.

The Ages and Stages Questionnaires have consistently been shown to accurately and reliably identify developmental delays in communication, gross and fine motor skills, problem-solving, and personal-social skills across a number of different age groups, contexts, populations, and cultures (Squires, Bricker, & Potter, 1997). In fact, it has been shown that early developmental screening, even in the absence of intervention, decreases the risk of delay over time (i.e., when children were re-screened at a later age interval; Drotar et al., 2008).

Evaluating Early Screening and Intervention

Motivated to locally evaluate the effectiveness of the new screening and intervention model in improving outcomes among children in the community, the planning body that presented the first round of training in 2014 looked to strike an Infant Mental Health Advisory Committee and Pilot Project. The Pilot Project aims to assess the validity of the Ages and Stages Questionnaire for Niagara and to increase awareness of Infant Mental Health amongst the broader Niagara community.

There are over 20 agencies in Niagara who sit on this committee and are part of the pilot project, all of whom participated in the training. Dr. Chaya Kulkarni from Infant Mental Health Promotion at the Hospital for Sick Children, the facilitator of the training session, also sits on this committee and supports Niagara in the data collection process. The data has been collected for almost three years and will conclude in Dec. 2017.

To date, the Niagara Pilot Project has conducted over 500 developmental screens with more than 70 frontline practitioners and 200 families. While the project is still underway, a very preliminary analysis of developmental outcomes on a selected 25 at-risk children demonstrated that the intervention significantly improved Problem Solving and Gross Motor domains. Other domains including Personal-Social, Fine Motor Skills, and Communication also improved over time, but it was the former two areas that responded most to the intervention. Given the small sample size of this first analysis, we hope to confirm these initial trends when conducting a more in-depth analysis of the entire sample.

These initial findings support Niagara’s beliefs and value in early identification and intervention and suggest that future research should aim to link developmental data from the Ages and Stages Questionnaire to data from the Early Development Instrument. It is through this linkage of longitudinal data, that we will be able to understand how to proactively build strong children at the outset.

The Niagara Pilot Project will be completed in December 2017, with the data presentation in early spring. The committee in Niagara will then move forward to continue the work that has been underway to increase the knowledge of infant mental health.

If you are interested in learning more about the project, please reach out.

Sandy Toth
Executive Director
Strive Niagara
stoth@striveniagara.ca

Niagara Knowledge Exchange & Community Calendar

Feb
26
Mon
Not-For-Profit Executive Forum 2018 @ Hyatt Regency Toronto
Feb 26 – Feb 27 all-day

As a progressive leader in your NFP, you are looking to make an impact for your organization. At the forum you will learn to embrace and harness the power of change to become stronger in the face of social, political and digital disruption. This year, CPA Canada has specifically tailored content for both charitable and not-for-profit organizations to speak to your unique needs as an organization. They will also provide updates in technical areas such as accounting standards, taxation and legal compliance to round off your skills as a senior leader.

Don’t miss Canada’s premier national not-for-profit event.

Can’t make it to Toronto? Attend the forum virtually from your desktop or tablet. Save $100 off registration and cut travel costs, without diminishing your access to expertise.

Topics include:

  • navigating and embracing change
  • key updates from the Accounting Standards Board
  • compliance and tax updates
  • harnessing the power of emerging technology and data
  • presenting financial information to your board
  • social enterprise
  • succession planning

This event is hosted by CPA Canada.

Feb
27
Tue
Bill 148 – Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Act: Better Business Practices Series @ ECCDC - Conference Room
Feb 27 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Bill 148 the Fair Workplaces & Better Jobs Act has been passed and has come into force on January 1, 2018. The Act has a significant number of changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) that will affect all workplaces in Ontario including Child Care Organizations.

This informal interactive seminar will provide Organizations with an opportunity to assess the potential impact this legislation may have on your Organization.

Facilitators Asha Rampersad from Bernardi HR Law will be present to answer many of your legal questions about how to best manage your child care regarding the proposed labour reforms.

Terri Carr and Joy Lerman from TJ Solutions have worked all over Southern Ontario for more than 15 years. Their focus is on providing seminars and solutions in managing your child care/family resource organizations.

This seminar is hosted by ECCDC.

Engineering Effective Events @ Online
Feb 27 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Event marketing strategies leave a lasting, brand-focused impression by grabbing the attention of a group of people who are gathered together, creating a sense of belonging and community and forwarding your organization’s mandate.

If executed professionally and successfully, event marketing will provide attendees (partners, donors and supporters) with an experience that will resonate in their minds for months, if not years, to come.

In this webinar, you’ll learn how to turn your event into the must-attend occasion on your community’s social calendar while adding significant value to your brand, operations and bottom line.

Presenters will use case studies to run you through developing the initial concept, thematic devices, venue, MC and speakers, entertainment, food, venue decoration, audio/video, set-up and teardown and attendee (and sponsor) follow-up.

This webinar is hosted by the Sustainability Network.

Feb
28
Wed
Mental Health in the Workplace: The Duty and Benefits of Accommodating Employees with Disabilities @ Online
Feb 28 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Everyone has the right to equal treatment in employment and cannot be discriminated against on the basis of actual or perceived disability. Accommodation is a way of helping employees work more effectively by overcoming limitations caused by disabilities, including mental illnesses.

Changes in labour law, occupational health and safety, employment standards, workers compensation, and human rights decisions are all pointing in the need for employers to provide a psychologically safe workplace.

Join in as guest speakers unpack these developments and share what employers need to know and do to support their employees in realizing their potential and contributing to their workplace and broader community.

This webinar is hosted by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Supporting International Students: Campus Mental Health @ Online
Feb 28 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Many international students do not readily seek mental health supports, despite facing multiple challenges in their transition to a new country and educational system.

This webinar will look at some of the barriers to access, including stigma of mental health issues, differing cultural perceptions of the definitions, causes, and handling of mental health, and a lack of awareness of supports offered on and off campus.

Presenters will discuss ways to overcome these barriers while taking into account the cross-campus collaborations needed to enhance support for international students.

Presenters:

  • Ali Dohadwala, International Student Counsellor at George Brown College.
  • Ashley Sullivan, Manager of International Student Integration and Support at George Brown College.
  • Nadia D’Lima, International Student Services Manager at Centennial College.

This webinar is hosted by the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health.

Application Deadline: Niagara Connects Call for Board Members @ Online
Feb 28 @ 5:00 pm

Niagara Research and Planning Council (operating as Niagara Connects) is seeking new Board Members. Niagara Connects is a Niagara-wide network for collaboration, planning, learning, innovation and community action toward a stronger future for Niagara.

Mission: “Generating knowledge that drives community action”.

Guiding Principles:

  • Community strengths, research, and evidence are linked in order to plan for a stronger Niagara
  • Different interests are engaged to work together mobilizing for change; and
  • Research and activities are guided by communities.

Applicants should be prepared to:

  • Actively engage in supporting Niagara Connects’ mission and mandate within the community of Niagara
  • Have some flexibility to attend Board and committee meetings during business hours
  • Attend regularly-scheduled meetings of the Board
  • Work diligently to complete Board-related activities and projects
  • Participate on committees of the Board as appropriate

Click here for more information about Niagara Connects, application guidelines, and submission instructions.

Mar
1
Thu
Motivational Interviewing for LBS, Employment Services and Community Agency Staff @ Conversations Cafe
Mar 1 @ 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

What is Motivational Interviewing?

It’s a collaborative conversation to strengthen a person’s own motivation for and commitment to change. It’s a goal-oriented method of communication with particular attention to the language of change.

How can this workshop help you and your clients?

Motivational Interviewing is a person-centered counselling method for addressing the common problem of ambivalence about change. It uses open-ended questions, affirmations, reflections and summaries to allow for you to encourage and support clients to make positive changes. It is designed to strengthen a client’s motivation for and movement toward a specific goal by eliciting and exploring the person’s own arguments for change.

Workshop/Training Fee (per person): $119 includes lunch, refreshment breaks and materials.

Online registration forms are due by February 22, 2018.

This workshop is hosted by Literacy Link Niagara.

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Niagara Knowledge Exchange is powered by a Niagara-wide network of people for collaboration, planning, learning, innovation and community action toward a stronger future for Niagara. We work hard to help foster a culture of Niagara-focused research and evidence-informed planning to support your community development innovations. To learn more about Niagara Connects, please visit our central website: www.niagaraconnects.ca or contact us: Email: info@niagaraconnects.ca, Phone: 905-688-6236
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