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The Early Years Matter Cities Fit For Children November 22, 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "The Early Years Matter Cities Fit For Children November 22, 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Early Years Matter Cities Fit For Children November 22, 2013

2 More than many realize, and much earlier, according to new research: August 15, 1983 What do Babies Know?

3 Fertile Minds From birth, a baby’s brain cells proliferate wildly, making connections that may shape a lifetime of experience. The first three years are critical: February 3, 1997

4 What Makes You Who You Are? Which is stronger--nature or nurture? The latest science says genes and your experience interact for your whole life: June 2, 2003

5 The Expert Panel on Early Child Development Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (November 2012) Are there identifiable adverse experiences that lead to poor outcomes? Is there evidence that the effects of these experiences are due to changes in brain structure and function? What is the evidence for the effectiveness of interventions used to mitigate the effects of these experiences?

6 Key Findings Early childhood is a sensitive period during which the brain is shaped by the interplay of the child’s genes and experiences. Early adversity and later developmental health are linked through the development of specific brain and nervous system circuits, from executive function to responses to stress. Longitudinal research demonstrates that children who early in life contend with chronic adversities are more likely to experience impairments later in life.

7 Developmental trajectories appear early in life and tend to be reinforced through a cascade of differential exposure to stressful and risky social contexts. Dramatic events matter, but day to day interactions are much more importants than we previously understood. Children vary tremendously in their response to adverse experiences. Some children appear to be more biologically sensitive to context. Early in life, the environment talks to genes and the genes listen.

8 Parenting, begets parenting. This is biological as well as behavioural. Limited, but promising research that child maltreatment and its associated outcomes can be reduced if targeted, intensive and sustained services are deployed. A paucity of evidence examining how broader interventions make a difference.

9 Key Trends in Children’s Development in B.C.


11 of B.C. kindergarten children are vulnerable 2007 – 29%

12 of B.C. kindergarten children are vulnerable 2013 – 33%

13 Language and Cognitive Development







20 Why? “Something very big is happening to family life in British Columbia”

21 Boiling Frogs They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes. This parable illustrates how humans have to be careful to watch slowly changing trends, not just the sudden changes. Its a warning to keep us paying attention not just to obvious threats but to more slowly developing ones.

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