UNICEF Canada launches the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being
TORONTO, Nov. 28 2018 /CNW/ - UNICEF Canada's One Youth today launches the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being, a new tool to track progress on children rights and well-being and guide action to address the greatest challenges faced by kids in Canada.
"The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being is a tool that will help us better understand what life is like for Canada's kids. We know from UNICEF's Report Cards that Canada ranks 25 among the world's 41 richest countries in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If we want to do better for children in Canada, we need to do things differently. That starts with better understanding the state of Canada's children," said David Morley, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada.
Built with children and youth, the Index is a work in progress. It brings together existing and new data to start conversations and support action:
- Do children feel like they belong? Only one in three 11- to 15-year-olds says they have supportive relationships in their family and only one in three says they have supportive relationships with their teachers. Why does it matter? Because feeling supported by and connected to family, friends, teachers, people in the community and, for some, their pets, contributes to a sense of belonging and to many aspects of well-being including health, learning and protection.
- Are children free to play? Only 20% of 5- to 11-year olds engage in active play and unstructured leisure activities for more than two hours a day, yet play and leisure are critical to development and influence every aspect of well-being.
- Are children connected to their environment? Living in a sustainable environment is a critical aspect of child and youth well-being. Young people are also committed to being good stewards of the environment and should be included in decisions affecting it.
The index covers nine interrelated dimensions of children's lives with 125 indicators. Forty-three of the indicators measure progress to achieve targets for the Sustainable Development Goals that Canada has committed to achieve by 2030.
"The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being is opening up new insights about what shapes the well-being of children and youth in Canada. It is bringing people together to work together, find solutions and move forward so that every Canadian child can have a good childhood," added Morley.
The development of the index is a multi-stage process. UNICEF Canada's One Youth wants to know what Canadians think about the issues raised in the Index and is inviting all Canadians to submit ideas to improve the way we think about and measure children's rights and well-being.
The first, baseline report of the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being will be released in 2019 with full data and analysis, and new tools to help turn data into action.
The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being can be consulted online here.
The index has been developed with many collaborators, including the Canadian Index of Wellbeing/University of Waterloo, the Students Commission of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Child Health, our valued Advisory Group and young people across the country.
The realization of the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being has been made possible thanks to the support of our founding and enabling partners: Canadian Index of Wellbeing, University of Waterloo; Lyle S. Hallman Foundation; Lawson Foundation; Intact Financial Corporation; and Overlap Associates.
UNICEF Canada defines well-being as:
A country where no child lives in poverty; where they're healthy, safe and secure; where they're free to dream, play, wonder and learn; where they know who they are, where they came from, and where they're going; where they have access to the resources they need to reach their full potential; where they feel loved and that they belong.
Being part of the development of the UNICEF Child and Youth Well-being Index has been an extraordinary opportunity to work not just with experts, but especially with children and youth who have been real partners in the process and have provided incredibly valuable and unique insights into those things that really contribute to their wellbeing. With their help, we are in a far better position to identify where inequities exist and how we can address them in ways to improve the lives of all Canadian children and youth.
- Dr. Bryan Smale, Director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing
When communities come together to collectively understand the needs and opportunities of their youngest citizens, their impact can go much further than any one organization or independent effort can on their own. And the more this collective understanding can be grounded in valid, reliable and meaningful data, the more likely that strategies and solutions will align with what is most needed.
- Alison Pearson, M.A., Manager, Community Engagement and Planning for the Children and Youth Planning Table
The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Wellbeing is designed to function like a social policy "thermometer." Its purpose is to measure and communicate how well Canadian children and youth are actually doing (as opposed to how well we think they are doing), and to guide our policy decisions moving forward.
The Index can help us to map out a path to achieving our goal of making Canada the best place in the world to grow up. I don't know about you, but I find that incredibly inspiring—and I'm excited that we have such a powerful data tool to help guide us along that path. Here's to journeying together.
- Ann Douglas, weekend parenting columnist for CBC Radio and author of Happy Parents, Happy Kids
"There are only so many surveys and questions we can answer to gather enough data to paint a picture of how we think youth in Canada are doing. The Index is important because it represents what specific things affect young people's well-being. Young people were given the opportunity to help design the Index. When youth are involved, and encouraged to voice their opinions, it benefits not only young people themselves, but their communities as a whole. It only makes sense to have young people's voices be heard on issues that affect them directly."
- Olivia Lam, youth participant, 17 years old
"This Index is important to Canadian citizens because of what it stands for. Child and Youth Well-being. We tend to think that youth have it good, but this Index takes a look at the REAL numbers and what matters to young people. Having youth involved in the design process of the Index was important because it showed a perspective that a lot of people aren't aware of or don't acknowledge, as well as making it youth-friendly and easier to understand. The impact this Index will have will be life changing; it identifies where we can improve, and with the facts there is no reason that we as a country shouldn't act on what this Index tells us."
- Liam Bullock, 19 years old (youth participant in a workshop to help build the Index in 2016)
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.
UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit unicef.ca For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit unicef.ca.
SOURCE UNICEF Canada
For further information: To arrange interviews or for more information please contact: Marie-Hélène Bachand, Communications Specialist, UNICEF Canada, 514 288-5134 ext. 8425/mobile: 514 232-4510, [email protected]