Recognizing that the 9 months before birth and the early years of a child’s life are the most critical period in the shaping of the structures and functions of the brain, and the importance of high quality, culturally appropriate early childhood programming for Indigenous children and families prior to kindergarten ̶ a comprehensive program has been developed based on traditional knowledge, community innovation, effective practices and the most current scientific evidence around early childhood development.
The project aims at demonstrating that it is possible to improve outcomes by implementing a prenatal-to-early-childhood intervention for pregnant Indigenous women and their children living in a First Nations reserve community. Therefore, the project has two goals: piloting of an intervention and research on the effectiveness of the intervention. The intervention, requested by the community, comprises two phases. Phase I is a Home Visiting program offering health and social service resources to young children and their families in a home setting environment. It will start prenatally and continue until children reach the age of two. Phase II is a Child Development Centre for children between two and four years old and will includes activities such as conversational reading, learning games and development of language, while providing enriched caregiving. By measuring numerous outcomes and their improvement in response to the intervention (e.g. pregnancy and birth outcomes, language development, executive functions, child welfare placement, social play, First Nations Pride, maternal depression, maternal-child interactions), the project will demonstrate the efficacy of the intervention that could lead to its replication in other communities.