SPHERU collaborates with Saskatoon Health Region to release first-ever child health status report

November 22, 2012

The report highlights that children and families need more supports.
The report highlights that children and families need more supports.

Thirty percent of kindergarten children living in Saskatoon Health Region are not ready for school, according to a report of the Chief Medical Health Officer, released by Saskatoon Health Region’s Population and Public Health department and the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit. The number of children not ready varies greatly by neighbourhood, from a low of 10 percent in some neighbourhoods, to a high of 56.7 per cent in others.

Readiness was determined using the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a population-based tool developed in Canada and used throughout Canada and internationally to monitor young children’s developmental health outcomes. The EDI is a checklist completed by kindergarten teachers part way through the school year  that assesses children on developmentally-appropriate skills, such as the ability to recognize simple shapes (language skills), walk up stairs (physical skills), and get along with others (social skills).

SPHERU’s Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine, who leads the Healthy Children research program, and Fleur Macqueen Smith, the program’s knowledge transfer manager, spent the last year collaborating with Dr. Cory Neudorf, the Chief Medical Health Officer, and staff at the Public Health Observatory to release this report. It is the first collaborative health status report the Health Region has released, and the first child health status report released in Saskatchewan.

“Once again this report highlights that many of our children, from birth to school entry, are not doing as well as we would like. Some children have already fallen behind their peers when they enter kindergarten, and this is not acceptable,” Muhajarine says. “We all need to prioritize and do whatever is necessary, from families to government, to help secure a better future for our children and for ourselves.”

The report includes recommendations to lower this number of vulnerable children to 18% in 2018, a goal which Muhajarine called  “challenging but achievable.” They include developing a province-wide, cross-ministerial and regional intersectoral early childhood strategy, focusing on family needs with increased supports for parenting and access to services like childcare, a holistic approach to meeting the needs of Aboriginal families, and robust monitoring tools to measure progress over time.

A committee has been established through the Saskatoon Regional Intersectoral Committee to develop an action plan to achieve the 18 by 18 goal in five years.

The full report, executive summary, and a summary of main messages are available online through the Saskatoon Health Region. More information on this report is posted on kidSKAN at www.kidskan.ca/healthstatus.


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