In partnership with Queen’s University and community-based agencies, IEMHP is developing the FIRST Canadian National Database of pre-school child development.
The information in the database helps us understand how kids are meeting important stages of development. The information in the database also shows which areas of development need more help, so supports and resources can be given in a timely and effective way.
Canada does not have a system to collect data on the developmental status of young children prenatal to age six. The science of brain development has established that the first five years of life are very important for a child’s development. This is because the brain is most easily and rapidly shaped by the experiences and people in the early environment. Every second in a young child’s brain, 1 million connections are made to support that will form the foundation for their development across the lifespan.
This makes it important to identify and address developmental and mental health concerns as early as possible and to ensure that the supports and services are available when there may be a concern.
There are benefits to understanding early childhood development and infant/early mental health. Yet, there is no current comprehensive Canadian database of developmental screening scores. With Queen's University, Infant and Early Mental Health Promotion is building the first National Database of under-6 development and mental health.
The Database lets us see how kids are growing up in different situations. For example, we can see how kids are developing in child welfare settings, community-based organizations, and Indigenous communities. As more groups join, the Database grows along with our understanding of developmental need.
By building a national knowledge base on early development and mental health, we can understand, and respond to ensure every child has the optimal start in life from the very beginning ultimately, better meeting the needs of the young children in our society.
In this project, partner organizations will use the Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQs). The ASQs are screening tools used to assess a child’s risk of developmental delay. Service providers will use the ASQs to ask the primary caregiver questions about their child. These questions ask about the child’s abilities (for example, walking, grasping toys, talking, social and emotional state). Each ASQ takes about 15 minutes to complete.
The service providers at the partner organizations may screen each child up to 4 times over the course of a year. This will allow us to follow a child’s developmental trajectory. It also allows us to check how supports, if any are provided, are influencing development. To learn more about what affects early development, service providers will also ask families to complete a demographic form.
All information obtained during this project is strictly confidential and de-identified. No identifying information is stored in the database.
As of August 2023, the National ASQ Database has over 2000 individual child records across 9 partner organizations.
The data in the Database has been used for several comparative analyses. For example, from these comparative analyses, the following results have been deduced:
By working together to create a strong national understanding of early growth and mental health, we can make a big difference. We can shape policies and programs that help the youngest citizens of Canada. We can build a brighter and more promising future for every child in our society.
Together, we can create positive change that will benefit generations to come.
This project is led by a collaboration between IEMHP (The Hospital for Sick Children) and:
If you are interested in learning more or joining the National ASQ Database, contact Dr. Karys Peterson-Katz at email@example.com.
Peterson-Katz, K. (2023). Putting Knowledge to Practice: Bridging the Gap Between Early Intervention, Child Development, and Organizational-Level Implementation Following Training and Coaching. Manuscript submitted for publication. Queen’s University.