The Early Childhood Collaborative Action Team
The coalition began interviewing seniors and parents to find out what they did outdoors in Jasper as children. Their stories were shared on the Parent Link Center newsletter and Facebook page in order to provide families with ideas for outdoor activities that they could engage in with their children.
Community at a glance
Jasper is a tourism town with a full-time population of about 4,500 people. During the busy summer months, the daytime population can swell to more than 30,000. Jasper has a substantial number of temporary foreign workers, who serve the tourism industry. Many live in town with their families, but are ineligible for many programs that are available for residents, including child-care subsidies.
EDI baseline results
About 27 per cent of kindergarten-aged children in Jasper are experiencing great difficulty in one or more areas of development, which is slightly below the provincial rate. Overall, children are struggling the most in social competence, where just over 30 per cent are experiencing difficulty or great difficulty.
- Jasper is a relatively small town, which makes it easier to get information out to the community.
- Instead of forming a new coalition, the town chose to work through an existing organization, the Early Childhood Collaborative Action Team. The team is part of the Municipality’s Community Outreach Services and was started more than 20 years ago. Professionals in the group have been collaborating for many years and feel confident of their ability to act as stewards of the data for their community.
- The town has a municipally operated and subsidized, high-quality, licensed and accredited child-care centre for children aged 0 to 5. It is one of the few municipal centres in Alberta.
- Jasper is fairly isolated geographically. Edmonton, the closest large city, is located 360 kilometers away. This means that many services for children, especially for those with special needs, are unavailable within the community. Parents have to travel long distances to access certain services.
- Living costs are expensive, including such basics as housing and child care.
- Involving people who don’t have young children themselves, or who don’t work with young children in issues related to early childhood development can be a challenge.
In June 2014, the coalition lobbied for the development of a new playground with equipment appropriate for children aged 0-5. The town is dismantling an old playground and was considering installing new equipment for children aged 5-12. The coalition used EDI physical health and well-being results to make its case. The coalition also noted the importance of play in developing other skills, such as social competence, an area in which one in three children are experiencing difficulty or great difficulty. While the town has not made any final decisions yet, officials are now aware of the importance of developmentally appropriate play space for younger children.
Jasper coalition poster
- A series of posters were produced to provide community members with basic knowledge about early development. The posters are displayed at the Parent Link Center, local daycares and in the utility newsletter that residents receive monthly.
- A wine and cheese event was organized in the spring of 2013 to release the community’s preliminary EDI results. The goal was to attract a diverse crowd and stimulate a community conversation. More than 60 people attended, walking through stations that explained the importance of children’s brain development, the EDI and why early child development matters. The relaxed atmosphere encouraged people to discuss the EDI results, and their observations and ideas were summarized on a smart board.
"We've been struggling for 20 years to find funding that supports intersectoral collaboration. It's not work that can be done off the side of your desk; it must be done properly and mindfully. The seed grants were a positive investment in supporting collaboration and collective impact for the health and well-being of Alberta's children."
Kathleen Waxer, coalition chair
Please note: Jasper early childhood development results have been compiled with Hinton and area results in one report.
Posted: June 27, 2014