Program targeting babies and preschoolers enters second phase

A province wide program exploring gaps in services, programs and supports for newborns to five-year-olds is now in its second phase

Debbie Oostindie

A province wide program exploring gaps in services, programs and supports for newborns to five-year-olds is now in its second phase in Sylvan Lake.

Debbie Oostindie, Sylvan Lake and Area Early Childhood Project Co-ordinator for the Sylvan Lake Early Childhood Coalition said the first phase of the program, which included looking at social competence, language and thinking skills, physical health and wellbeing, emotional maturity, communication skills and general knowledge of newborn to five-year-olds has been completed.

“The data was collected by using information supplied by kindergarten teachers who filled out questionnaires,” said Oostindie. “This data is being collated and is expected to be ready for distribution as early as October.”

She said results will be made public at a presentation, the date of which is yet to be finalized.

Oostindie is now in the process of completing the next step of the initiative.

“I am finding out what is available and any gaps there might be for this age group in Sylvan Lake and the surrounding area. I am busy talking to all stakeholders who play a role in the development of these children.”

Oostindie said she finds the work challenging, interesting and rewarding.

“I know it’s a cliché,” she said, “but, really, it does take a community to raise a child. And the early years are so important. Anything we can do to strengthen that framework can be nothing but beneficial, now and for future generations.”

Sylvan Lake is one of several communities throughout Alberta taking part in the study funded through Alberta Education and United Way. Findings are to be posted on www.ecmap.ca

Anyone who wishes to help with the project, either by becoming part of the coalition or helping at community events may contact Oostindie at slecdproject@gmail.com

For more information about the project check out www.ecmap.ca

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