Early Childhood Development Program of Research

Overview and objectives

The Early Childhood Development Program of Research has three main parts:

  • Early Development Instrument (EDI) data collection, analysis and mapping
  • Statistics Canada socio-economic data (SES) processing and mapping
  • Community asset data processing and mapping

In the ECD Program of Research, school districts, independent and First Nations-governed schools in British Columbia collect EDI data and then disclose the information to HELP for research and statistical purposes.  HELP then maps EDI data across five domains of development: 1) social, 2) emotional, 3) cognitive, 4) communications and 5) physical, on a continual basis. Between 2000 and 2004, all 59 BC public school districts in British Columbia participated in the ECDMP and there has been ongoing participation.  A number of First Nations schools and independent schools have also collected EDI data.

The ECD Program of Research also maps customized SES and collected community asset data (where available) using the same neighbourhood boundaries by which EDI data are mapped.  In Canada, as elsewhere, development outcomes correspond to socio-economic levels and patterns of neighbourhood disadvantage.  By mapping EDI and SES data using identical boundaries, overlay maps of these data can reveal patterns which are helpful for early child development research. 

Maps and summary reports created by the ECD Program of Research can reveal important differences in child development in communities. Specifically, these maps can:

  • reveal where children and families live, where programs and resources are located in association with where children and families live, and how accessible these programs are to those they were designed to support.
  • identify large neighbourhood differences in the number of children who are healthy and ready for school.
  • reveal where the gaps are in children’s development and where improvement is needed.
  • reveal how socio-economic factors may influence children's early development.
  • heighten awareness of the importance of early child development.
  • prompt new community policies and programs.

By mapping information at varying geographic levels, such as neighbourhoods, researchers can better understand how various factors within communities can influence children’s development and health. Policy makers and community members can use this information to develop effective policies and programs to help children get the best possible start in life.

The ECD Program of Research also seeks to maintain an anonymized and separate archive of BC EDI data and of EDI-related identifiers. This archive will enable linkage to other individual-level data sets, for research purposes only, to facilitate a more comprehensive study of children’s long-term trajectories of development and the broad factors which influence ECD.

Benefits of the ECD Program of Research

The EDI provides information that can be interpreted both backwards and forwards in time.  The primary direction of interpretation for the purposes of early child development is backwards. That is, the results of the EDI are interpreted to represent the outcome of the cumulative early experience that children in a given geographic area have had from birth to kindergarten entry. Variations in EDI outcomes by area are taken to represent average differences in the qualities of stimulation, support and nurturance that children in those areas have experienced. The EDI can also be interpreted prospectively, in that the results frame the challenges that families, schools, communities and governments will face in supporting their children’s development from kindergarten onward. 

EDI method of analyses

The primary uses of EDI data within the ECD Program of Research are to analyze and report through maps, tables, and reports how well British Columbian children are developing with respect to developmental domains. A large proportion of analytic work is done through mapping or spatial analyses, although we also perform, statistical analyses, including:

  • Descriptive statistics to describe the study population's socio-demographic and developmental characteristics.
  • Trend analysis to determine statistically significant changes in children's developmental vulnerability over time.
  • Regression analysis of socio-economic variables to identify variables which are correlated with EDI developmental domains and overall vulnerability.
  • Correlation to various neighbourhood-level socio-economic (SES) data from Census years (2001, 2006, 2011)
  • Trajectories of child development

Analyses and reporting are done at the aggregate level to reflect larger units, such as a neighbourhood or a school district.

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Last revised May 10th, 2024

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