Middle Years Development Program of Research

The Middle Childhood Development Program of Research (“MCD Program of Research”) purpose is to develop an understanding of how different environments: families, neighbourhoods, schools, and child development programs and services interact with biological factors as well as policy environments to produce a diverse range of developmental health outcomes for children. The MCD Program of Research primarily involves but is not limited to:

  1. Data Collection by way of a student self-report questionnaire referred to as the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI), analysis and mapping.
  2. Socio-economic data (SES) processing, analysis and mapping.
  3. Other relevant data collection related to understanding child development and health.

In the MCD Program of Research, school districts, independent and band schools in British Columbia collect MDI data and then disclose the information to HELP for research and statistical purposes towards gaining a better understanding of the social determinants of child development and, in turn, understand how child development shapes long term health outcomes. The findings of this research inform programs, services and practices related to supporting children’s development, health, and wellbeing.

The program of research utilizes geographic neighbourhood, school district, health authority, and regional boundaries to map the data for purposes of local relevance. By mapping MDI data together with other social determinants of health data and other relevant data using identical boundaries, it can reveal important patterns in the data, which are critical for examining geographic and social influences on early child development. 

Research presentations, academic papers, maps and summary reports created by the MCD Program of Research show important differences in child development in communities. Specifically, our research:

  • Provides an understanding that is a holistic picture of children’s development at the level of the population
  • Identifies large geographic differences in the number of children who experience developmental challenges
  • Reveals 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
  • Reveals how socio-economic and other social factors may influence children's early development
  • Heightens awareness of the importance of child development during the middle years (age 9-12) provincially, nationally and internationally
  • Provincial, national and international comparisons contribute to local understandings of influences of child development
  • Helps stakeholders to understand and respond to the needs of children and families.
  • Provides important information for community stakeholders, schools, families, and governments to make informed and local decisions to improve early childhood development
  • Prompts new community, school, and health policies and programs.

Policy makers, researchers, educators and community stakeholders use this information to increase their understanding of child development and to develop effective policies and programs to help children, their families, and schools to get the best possible support. 

The HELP MCD Program of Research, under the auspices of Population Data BC, also maintains an anonymized and separate archive of BC MDI data and of MDI-related identifiers in Population Data’s Secure Research Environment (SRE) for analysis by Eligible Researchers with authorized access for the purposes of the MDI Research Program. This archive enables linkage to other individual-level data sets, for research purposes, to facilitate a more comprehensive study of children’s long-term trajectories of development and the broad factors which influence MCD. Linkage of MDI data to other datasets is essential to create a comprehensive understanding of influences on MCD and for understanding how MCD is, itself, associated with other social determinants of health. 

Through the MCD Program of Research, HELP will maintain custody and control of the MDI data. HELP will have the responsibility to keep personal information confidential and secure in accordance with any conditions set by the School Districts/Independent Schools and FIPPA, and will require approved researchers to do so as well. Researchers will need to go through a strict process to make sure they are using the data correctly for the MCD Research Program and keeping it safe and secure, including approval by the UBC Board of Ethics and fall under Section 35 FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY ACT [RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 165.

The primary uses of MDI Data within the MCD Program of Research are to analyze and report out through scientific research (journal) articles, presentations and workshops, maps, tables, and summary reports on how well British Columbian children are developing with respect to middle childhood development. The statistical analyses include but are not limited to:

  • Descriptive statistics to describe the study population's socio-demographic characteristics and children’s (self-reported) social and emotional competence, connectedness (to adults and to peers), school experiences, physical health and well-being, and constructive use of out-of-school time
  • Community-level analyses to understand the psychological and social worlds of children inside and outside of school during middle childhood
  • Trend analysis to determine significant changes in children's developmental health and associated context variables over time
  • Regression analysis of variables related to the social determinants of health, and data on early child development, middle childhood, youth, and adolescence
  • Complex statistical analyses of factors that influence child development
  • Ongoing development of MDI psychometric properties (reliability and validity)
  • Complex analyses such as factor analysis, multilevel modeling, and structural equation modeling
  • Utilizing the provincial data set to contribute to national and international research related to child development
  • Linkage of data sets (from Ministries such as of Health Services, Education, Healthy Living and Sports; Canadian census data; HELP’s [Pop Data BC] EDI data) to uncover the influences of and the long term outcomes of child development: trajectories of development
  • Longitudinal linkage of MDI data obtained from the same children at different times (e.g., Grade 4 and Grade 7) to understand the associations of children’s self-reported social and emotional competence, connectedness, school experiences, physical health and well-being, and constructive use of out-of--school time over time, and in relation to context variables.

Through the MCD Program of Research province-wide collection of MDI data in British Columbia will be used to establish a baseline estimate of the state of child development in middle childhood. As we seek to improve the health, well-being and competence of the population of BC, this outcome measure informs communities about how the programs, policies and social environments that we provide for children combine to support their development.


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