The need to be bold and work together to improve early childhood outcomes in our community.
For the past several months, United Way of Winnipeg has been working with the Province of Manitoba, the business community, the not-for-profit sector and elders and community leaders to establish an Early Childhood Development Innovation Fund.
This work culminated this past November with the announcement of a $500,000 investment from The J.W. McConnelly Family Foundation, with matching funds from the province.
“This fund will support innovative, community-led projects that have the potential to dramatically improve ECD outcomes for children in Manitoba. We have the research, knowledge and will to make children’s lives better, and we now have an innovation fund that has the potential to attract private investment and support innovative ECD projects.”
—Premier Greg Selinger
Premier Greg Selinger, speaking at an ECD Summit Nov. 21 2013, with Healthy Child Minister Kevin Chief (left).
Those initial investments have been earmarked for the Point Douglas Boldness Project, which will focus on improving outcomes for Aboriginal children in the Point Douglas community through innovative early childhood development.
“We are proud to be part of this bold initiative. One of our primary focuses as an organization is helping kids be all they can be – to ensuring they have access to the tools and opportunities to lead a full and productive life. This partnership has the potential to be one of the most important social endeavors of our time, and be truly transformative for our community. We really are stronger together.”
—Connie Walker, Vice President, Community Investment,
United Way of Winnipeg
Why invest in ECD?
Well, the science and economic benefits of early childhood development are well documented. As Premier Selinger noted, “…investments in early development can be life-changing, with positive impacts on the long-term well being and success of children. We will continue to work with community and private sector partners to support ground-breaking, community-led innovations in early childhood development.”
Ready for school, ready for life.
Our children are not entering school ready to learn. In fact, up to 40% of children in some Winnipeg neighbourhoods will start school without the basic skills they need to succeed.
The economic costs of this are huge, the human costs incalculable, and the status-quo isn’t working. We’re excited to be part of an initiative that begins to change the early childhood development narrative in Manitoba—from challenges, to very real possibilities for improvement.
Why the focus on the Point Douglas community?
The numbers are somewhat daunting, with the outcomes for babies in Point Douglas among the worst in Canada. For example, 87% of Aboriginal babies in the North End are born into toxic stress, and 40% of children in the neighbourhood aren’t ready to learn when they enter school.
Point Douglas community members have signalled their dissatisfaction with the status quo and their willingness to act boldly to advocate and innovate for their kids.
The consensus amongst economists, developmental psychologists, sociologists, statisticians and neuroscientists is that investing in high-quality early learning and child care can deliver substantial economic returns for children, their caregivers and the entire community.
Point Douglas can become a beacon of significant, positive change on behalf of all Winnipeg’s children.