November 30, 2021
The Telegram: Interview with ED Neria Aylward
Executive Director Neria Aylward spoke with Telegram Journalist Peter Jackson about early childhood development, the social determinants of health and the federal childcare plan. Here are a few excerpts.
On the importance of Early Childhood:
Many parents focus on the more academic side of their child’s learning — language skills and math — but Aylward says the socio-emotional development of children in the first few years is crucial to everything that comes afterwards.
And she’s not alone in saying that.
“We know that the most economically beneficial interventions that are available are in childhood development,” Dr. Pat Parfrey told The Telegram earlier this week.
On poverty, adverse childhood experiences and resilience:
Kids, like adults, can be resilient, but Aylward says bad experiences in the early years can present big challenges later on.
“One in four kids in Canada is identified by the age of 5 (as being) vulnerable when they’re entering school, and that’s really, really hard to catch up on,” she said.
“Kids who are behind when they’re 5 years old are less likely to graduate high school, they’re more like to need special education, and the knock-on effects go on and on.
Poverty is one of the key indicators for early problems. Parents may be dealing with everything from addictions to mental illness to food insecurity.
“Parents are the child’s first teacher, for the most part, and supporting parents is super important,” Aylward said.
On 10-dollar-a-day childcare:
“This is the investment of a generation. And I feel like a lot of people don’t know about it or don’t have a sense that it affects them,” she said of the $10-a-day guarantee that’s slated to be phased in over the next two years.
“You can look at it two ways. You can look at it as somewhere to park the kids so that parents can get back to work, or you can look at it … perhaps, more importantly, to meet their development goals and trajectories,” she said. “Those two things can really go together, but we really have to have a sense that early childhood education is important.”