Malton community 'beats the odds' in early childhood development



    School readiness in Malton on par with Peel, despite increase in
    social risk, study shows

    TORONTO, Oct. 23 /CNW/ - If you want to know how well a child will do in
school and-in some ways-throughout life, look at that child's early
experiences-how well educated the parents are, for example, and the average
income level in the community. Decades of research have supported this
conclusion.
    But Malton seems to be beating the odds, says a new study by
Understanding the Early Years Malton. The study finds that, despite an
increase in social risk over the past five years, Malton's young children are
developing just as well as their peers across Peel.
    Over the past five years, the social risk in Malton has increased by 10
per cent -- 56 per cent of Malton is now rated as high risk. That's compared
to the rest of Mississauga, in which only 15 per cent of the community is
rated as high risk. Overall, 14 per cent of Peel neighbourhoods are considered
high risk. High risk neighbourhoods have higher levels of poverty, mobility,
recent immigration and lower employment and education levels.
    There are more Malton children living in poverty today than in 2001. The
average household income in Malton is about $65,000, compared to more than
$88,000 for Mississauga overall.
    Another challenge for the Malton community is the proportion of young
children who speak English as a second language -- 57 per cent, compared to 31
per cent in Mississauga and just 29 per cent in Peel overall.
    Despite the increasing challenges, a measure of the early development of
young children in Malton shows their results are basically unchanged over the
past three years. The percentage of children in Malton considered ready for
school is actually one per cent higher than Mississauga overall and the same
as Peel overall.
    To gauge early childhood development and readiness for school, senior
kindergarten teachers in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board and
Peel District School Board assessed their students' physical, emotional,
social, intellectual and communication skills. Teachers used the Early
Development Instrument, developed by researchers at McMaster University, to
conduct the assessment.
    "How does Malton beat the odds? Well, we definitely believe that our
community is united in putting our children first," says Jatinder Grewal,
chair of the community leadership group that guides the UEY Malton project.
"Outside of our community, Malton sometimes has a negative reputation. But it
seems to me that Malton is a place where people stick together and help each
other out. We're a community of extended families. Faith also plays an
important role in our lives -- and all of our churches, mosques, gurdwaras and
temples offer great programs for children and youth."
    Community leaders in Malton will use this study to keep the focus on
improving the prospects for young children. "It's important for us to
understand how we can use these results to make our community even better,"
says Alison Robinson, a Malton teacher and executive member on the UEY Malton
guiding collaborative. "We need to strengthen our voice, so we can speak more
effectively on behalf of our community. In the months ahead, we will be
speaking about this issue throughout the Peel community, to try to bring more
resources to support Malton's children and families."
    UEY Malton is a three-year community-led project to complete research
about the factors that influence early childhood development. At the local
level, it is self-directed by the Malton community, through the guiding
collaborative -- a group of community leaders who work together to identify
resources to meet the needs of children and ensure their success. The guiding
collaborative comprises parents of young children, service providers, schools,
faith centres, businesses, and other community leaders and advocates. Funded
by Human Resources and Social Development Canada, the project is supported by
the Peel District School Board. Malton is one of 16 communities across Canada
selected for this national project.

    For a copy of the full Malton and Peel EDI reports and the social risk
index in Malton, go to www.peelschools.org, or www.maltonkids.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Jatinder Grewal, Chair, UEY
Malton Guiding Collaborative, (416) 825-5756, jaygrewal@gmail.com; Alison
Robinson, member, UEY Malton Guiding Collaborative, (905) 677-3802,
alison.robinson@peelsb.com; Paul Favaro, Chief of Assessment and
Accountability, (905) 890-1010 (or 1-800-668-1146) ext. 2611,
paul.favaro@peelsb.com; Reference: Sylvia Link, Manager of Communications,
(905) 890-1010 (or 1-800-668-1146) ext. 2814, sylvia.link@peelsb.com


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