April 28, 2021

Putting Young Children’s Well-Being Front and Centre of Public Policies

In its most recent portrait, released today, the Early Childhood Observatory (Observatoire des tout-petits) provides a detailed review of existing public policies in Quebec regarding early childhood development. The portrait is the result of meticulous research, conducted in collaboration with a community of 60 experts, and will serve as a benchmark against which the well-being and future outcomes of young children can be analyzed.

The Collectif petite enfance would like, first and foremost, to commend the Observatory on this remarkable undertaking. This is Quebec’s first-ever overview of public policies pertaining to early childhood development. The portrait acknowledges that, on the whole, federal, provincial and municipal policies do give the province’s children a greater chance at success. But these policies need to be aligned if their impact is to be maximized. Added to this is the challenge of coordinating these efforts as efficiently and effectively as possible. By pulling together in the same direction, ensuring policies complement one another and leveraging synergies among various stakeholders, we will be able to better serve and better protect young children and their families.

Breaking down barriers to access

The portrait also sheds light on the continued existence of specific barriers that hinder access to certain services and programs covered in public policies. This is a major issue for vulnerable families, especially those living with poverty, families in Indigenous communities, parents of children with special needs, and children whose parents are immigrants. Hence the priority of the Collectif petite enfance to knock down silos and better connect with isolated families throughout the early childhood period, from conception to age 5.

With the report by the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection expected to be tabled in a matter of weeks, it is important for everyone to pool their efforts to protect young children. The needs are immense. And the full impact of COVID-19 remains to be determined. The most vulnerable among us were the hardest struck by the pandemic, but it is only over the longer term that we will be able to assess the collateral effects on children’s development. Not to mention the threats to public policies that the costs of the crisis may give rise to.

The Collectif petite enfance: A rallying force focused on helping young children

The Collectif petite enfance believes in the importance of drawing on multidisciplinary expertise and consulting widely with various stakeholders when drafting new public policies. We are also strong advocates for strengthened mobilization efforts to safeguard children and support families. More than ever, we need to foster cooperation and dialogue at the national, regional and local level so we can take action on every front. We are ready to serve as a catalyst for this movement. The well-being of our youngest citizens and the future of our society are depending on us.

 

Elise Bonneville

Director, Collectif petite enfance