New research confirms clearer links between early child development and
its impact on the growing brains of young children
TORONTO, March 26 /CNW/ - The Council for Early Child Development
published today the much anticipated Early Years Study 2: Putting Science into
Action, a follow up to the 1999 Mustard/McCain Early Years Study, a
groundbreaking report that recommended an integrated system of community-based
early child development and parenting centres linked to the school system.
This second report focuses on the scientific evidence supporting the
importance of early learning and care as it relates to childhood development.
Early Years Study 2: Putting Science into Action further describes how in
the earliest years of life, crucial brain functions set the stage for future
development. The findings affirm that experience-based brain development in
the early years of life sets neurological and biological pathways that affect
lifelong health, learning, and behaviour.
The research indicates a growing ability to identify early signs of
developmental compromises and challenges. This then allows intervention
strategies to be implemented early - while the brain is still able to be
shaped - and mitigate serious developmental, psychological and behavioural
"This report further supports earlier findings that tell us exactly how
important those first years of life really are," says Fraser Mustard, a long
time advocate for early child development. "If we can address needs and
children in care early, rather than later, we can help that child reach their
maximum potential. It also means we can equal the playing field for all
Moreover, the critical role of emotions and emotional processes in the
healthy development of the brain were found to be affected by positive early
experiences. Early positive experiences were also seen to be related to the
amount of stress in the early years of life and its development of the brain
and the long-term effects on physical and mental health. Everything in an
infant's environment contributes to brain development - noise, light, changes
in temperature, the touch, voice and smell of a caregiver. These discoveries
indicate that genes are "nurtured", meaning they are affected by environmental
"This dramatic discovery in molecular biology involves the interplay
between early experiences and how, where and when genes work," says Dr. Stuart
Shanker, President, Council for Early Child Development. "If we can positively
influence a child's early experiences, we can then influence the way their
genes are matured and set a pathway for success."
In addition to the scientific studies, Early Years Study 2: Putting
Science into Action addresses the need for community involvement and our
ability to create a pluralistic society - a democratic society that respects
diversity and equity of opportunity. Today's families are adapting to the
shifting realities of global economies, technological advances, and increasing
demands to produce a new, healthy, competent generation capable of
participating in rapidly changing, democratic societies.
Dr. Robin Williams, Medical Officer of Health with the Regional
Municipality of Niagara agrees, stating, "We need to place a real priority on
our children." She adds that, "Our future will depend on our ability to manage
the complex interplay of the emerging new economy, changing social and
physical environments and the impact of change on individuals, particularly
young children in their most vulnerable, early years."
Where families fit on the economic ladder contributes to children's
developmental outcomes, but income is not the whole story. Many children in
low-income families are doing just fine, and some children living in affluence
are not doing well. The largest number of at-risk children are those from
middle class families, while the largest percentage are children from poorer
Some success stories can already be seen across the county with effective
programs making a difference to Canadian children and families. Bruce Public
School in Toronto, in conjunction with Woodgreen Community Centre is a very
exciting example of how a school, community and neighbourhood work together.
"Getting it Right at 18 Months" is a program in some Ontario communities that
improves the link between children at 18 months and their families, and the
primary care practitioners to access one child's health and their stage of
development and strengthen their links to community. It then links the family
to community resources. In Hamilton, schools are developing child development
and parenting hubs for children with language needs. These changes are paying
off with improved school performance.
"It's true that we have begun to see examples of programs that are
working. However, many more are needed. This report clearly points to the need
for further resources provided not only by government, but by business leaders
as well," states Charlie Coffey. "We need to set an example and show strong
leadership by backing such an important issue. Our country's economic future
and our ability to compete is at stake."
Early Years Study 2: Putting Science into Action outlines what is needed
now for early child development and what is needed for the future. Five key
action items include: Harness the Evidence, Connect Communities, Influence
Public Policies, Cultivate Leaders and Monitor Results.
The Council will take the findings of this study to decision makers and
community leaders and the public across this country. Our commitment is to
make a positive difference for children and their families.
Also happening this week is the "Spring Forward! Early Years National
Conference" presented by Success By 6 Peel and the Council for Early Child
Development. The conference brings together early child development
professionals to share their knowledge and experiences. Participants include
service providers, researchers, educators and policy makers. More information
can be found at www.councilecd.ca
Founded by Dr. Fraser Mustard in 2004, the Council for Early Child
Development is based on the recommendations of the Early Years Study (McCain &
Mustard, 1999). The Board of Directors draws from business, education, health,
academia, early child development communities, and private citizens. The
Council's operation is supported by foundation and private sector
contributions. It is a not-for-profit, non-governmental association of
community and scientific networks with a focus on early child development
science and community action.
For further information:
For further information: including PDF copies of Early Years Study 2:
Putting Science into Action, please contact Jennifer McIntyre,
email@example.com, (416) 627-9891