Nurturing the Seed:
The Journey to Early Mental Health and Wellness
A Multi-Site Study
Originally, Nurturing the Seed (NtS) referred to a tool (Manual + Strategies) developed with Elders and advisors from several Indigenous communities and aiming to improve the developmental trajectories of Indigenous infants and preschoolers, particularly if they may be at risk of less-than-optimal outcomes. The idea is to act early since the first five years of a child’s life are critical to their lifelong wellness. In combination with a validated questionnaire that identifies infants and toddlers who are at risk of facing challenges in one or more key areas of development, using the Nurturing the Seed tool helps frontline workers suggest ways for the child’s caregivers to help the child strengthen specific skills through interactions and activities.
The Nurturing the Seed tool yields the best results when community practitioners across organizations and sectors are trained and supported in using it. So IEMHP developed a Nurturing the Seed program, or “community intervention”. This program is guided by and tailored to communities, and it includes training, coaching and other forms of support in implementing the NTS tool widely in the community.
Today, Nurturing the Seed has evolved into a large, pan-Canadian project. The Nurturing the Seed study measures the effectiveness of the Nurturing the Seed community intervention, in particular the use of the Nurturing the Seed tools with families of Indigenous children less than 6. It monitors the improvement of:
- infant and early mental health service delivery,
- Indigenous families’ well-being and empowerment, and
- Indigenous children's developmental outcomes.
The Nurturing the Seed community intervention aims to support interested Indigenous communities across Canada, to:
- Increase practitioners’ competence, confidence and capacity in Infant and Early Mental Health across sectors.
- Support young children’s development with culturally-appropriate developmental screens and Developmental Support Plans, using the ASQ-3 and ASQ:SE-2 questionnaires, and the Nurturing the Seed toolkit.
- Collect and enter infant and early mental health data. As per OCAP First Nations Principles, the data remains the property and responsibility of each community, and the research team only uses it with their permission.
- Monitor improvements in the delivery of IEMH services, the wellbeing of the family and the child’s developmental outcomes.
- Inform practice with learnings from the study.
Main steps of the Nurturing the Seed community intervention:
Nurturing the Seed interactions with families:
Who is Participating
The Research Team
The Nurturing the Seed study is conducted by a partnership between IEMHP and Dr. Reynold’s lab at Queen’s University. It is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Kids Brain Health Network.
- Child and Youth Milopemahtesewin Services (CYMS)
- La Ronge
- Timiskaming New Liskeard
- Timiskaming Kirkland Lake
Current Progress and Preliminary Results
The study started in 2019.
Number of sectors participating in the study for each community.
The NTS Training increased infant and early mental health knowledge consistently and significantly:
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