This study evaluated New Brunswick’s Early Childhood Initiatives (ECI) Program, with its range of services including pre- and post-natal screening, day care, and crisis intervention. Its goal is to give children a healthy start in life and to improve their “school readiness.” Researchers analyzed data from Statistics Canada’s National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) and then compared New Brunswick’s prevalence of children from birth to age five with poor social, behavioural, or cognitive outcomes with those children in the rest of Canada. They also assessed whether the number of vulnerable children in New Brunswick declined over the period studied. The study found significant declines in the proportion of premature and low birth-weight babies as well as in babies with low motor and social development. The prevalence of prenatal complications remained higher than the national average. Probably the most significant finding was that although New Brunswick children improved their vocabulary over the two years, they were still 28 per cent more likely to have low vocabulary scores than were children in the rest of Canada, a fact attributable to the relatively lower socio-economic status of New Brunswick families.
This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.