We know that children who grow up in safe, nurturing environments have better success throughout their lives. Parents have the most important impact on their child’s healthy development. There is strong evidence that healthy brain development relies on positive stimulation and nurturing, proper nutrition and good health in the earliest years of life. We recognize that addressing early childhood care and learning works best when parents, communities and governments work together in partnership.
In Manitoba, this understanding has led to a child-centred policy framework built on two foundations: economic justice through financial supports; and social justice through community-based family supports.
In March 2000, the Manitoba Government established Healthy Child Manitoba and the Premier created the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet. The Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet develops and leads child-centred public policy across government and ensures interdepartmental cooperation and coordination with respect to programs and services for Manitoba’s children and families. As one of a select number of committees of cabinet, the existence of the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet signals healthy child and adolescent development as a top-level policy priority of government.
The Deputy Ministers of the nine government partners of Healthy Child comprise the Healthy Child Deputy Ministers’ Committee. As directed by the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet, the Healthy Child Deputy Ministers’ Committee shares responsibility for implementing Manitoba’s child-centred public policy within and across departments.
The Healthy Child Manitoba serves as staff and secretariat to the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet and Healthy Child Deputy Ministers’ Committee. Healthy Child Manitoba’s primary responsibilities include research, program and policy development, evaluation, and community development. Healthy Child Manitoba also facilitates and liaises with the Provincial Early Childhood Development Advisory Committee, comprised of cross-sectorial community and government representatives that provide advice to the Chair of the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet regarding the Healthy Child Manitoba strategy.
The Healthy Child Manitoba Act was proclaimed in legislation on December 6, 2007. The legislation was implemented to:
- Continue the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet, ensuring the ongoing leadership of all ministers whose portfolios or departments directly affect the lives of children;
- Formalize the roles and responsibilities of the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet, the Healthy Child Deputy Ministers’ Committee and the Healthy Child Manitoba;
- Recognize and formalize the role of parent child coalitions that promote positive parenting, literacy and learning, nutrition and physical health, and community capacity;
- Establish a Provincial Healthy Child Advisory Committee; and
- Ensure the government reports to the public every five years on the health and well being of Manitoba’s children.
Healthy Child Manitoba Child-Centred Public Policy
Child-centred public policy places the best interests of children and youth first. Through a combination of financial and community-based family supports, Healthy Child Manitoba works to help families and communities raise healthy children and youth. Our continuum of supports extends through adolescence, with a focus on the most critical stage of early childhood development, from the prenatal period to the preschool years.
Healthy Child Manitoba Vision
“The best possible outcomes for Manitoba’s children.”
Healthy Child Manitoba Mission
Healthy Child Manitoba works across departments and sectors to facilitate community development for the well-being of Manitoba’s children, families and communities. Based on current research on the critical importance of the early years, the priority focus is on conception through infancy and the preschool years. Research has shown that the growth and development of the brain during this period is rapid, extensive and has profound effects for children’s intellectual, physical and social-emotional health. Brain development also depends upon the nurture and nutrition that children receive. The impact of the early years lasts for life.
New research indicates that we can best achieve our goals through:
- Multi-year, early intervention for families: prenatal to 6 years, including home visiting and nutrition programs;
- High quality child care and preschool experiences; and
- A holistic, accessible, integrated system, involving partnerships with parents, children and youth, and communities.
Healthy Child Manitoba Goals
The Healthy Child Manitoba strategy is a prevention and early intervention strategy to achieve the best possible outcomes for Manitoba’s children. To their fullest potential, Manitoba’s children will be:
- Physically and emotionally healthy
- Safe and secure
- Successful at learning
- Socially engaged and responsible
Healthy Child Manitoba Policy Development
Research and Evaluation
Healthy Child Manitoba’s Provincial Research and Evaluation Strategy focuses on measuring progress in child-centred public policy and assisting the Government of Manitoba in developing the most effective cross-sectoral mechanisms for achieving the best possible outcomes for Manitoba’s children, families, and communities. Key components of the strategy include new community data initiatives (i.e. Early Development Instrument), provincial program evaluations, population-based research, specialized evaluations, and community capacity-building and knowledge exchange.
EDI (Early Development Instrument)
The EDI is a questionnaire completed by teachers for all Kindergarten children in all 37 public school divisions. The EDI provides a population-based, community-level measure of how well communities are preparing Manitoba’s children for school.
The EDI measures school readiness in five areas of early childhood development:
- Physical Health and Well-Being
- Social Competency
- Emotional Maturity
- Language and Cognitive Development and Communication Skills
- General Knowledge
- EDI results are shared with school divisions, parent child coalitions, communities, parents, the childcare community, and Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet Ministers and departments