The Children’s Health Policy Centre is part of a national team investigating how COVID-19 public health measures — such as school closures, distancing and masking — have affected children’s day-to-day lives, it was announced Oct. 6/22.
Charlotte Waddell, Centre director, and Nicole Catherine, Centre faculty member, are part of the team. “This is the first study to look at a large, representative sample of children both before and during the pandemic,” Waddell said. “So, we will able to really see how all kids were doing,” she added.
Kathy Georgiades from the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University is leading the research which is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, to a sum of $3.1 million.
The team is partnering with Statistics Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Children’s Healthcare Canada to collect data on children’s physical, emotional, and social well-being, as well as their COVID-19 vaccination status. This study will provide the most robust evidence to date to inform new strategies to support children affected by the mental and physical health challenges stemming from the pandemic.
Close to 27,000 children between the ages of five and 21 will participate in the national study, which gets underway in January and wraps up in June 2023. Statistics Canada previously evaluated this same group, then aged one to 17 years, for the 2019 Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth.
The results collected in 2019 give the research team solid pre-pandemic baseline data, which will allow them to assess the effects of the pandemic on the group’s well-being. Look to this website for ongoing updates as the study proceeds.
Children in government care face extraordinary challenges. Some of them may have entered care because they have experienced maltreatment. Then once in the care system, many continue to experience avoidable adversities, such as multiple changes of placement.
This situation can lead to inconsistent caring relationships, school disruptions and cultural disconnections. These children also face higher rates of mental disorders, lower rates of high-school graduation and more conflicts with the law.
Compounding these issues are the unfair burdens faced by Indigenous children who often experience overinvolvement of the child welfare system, an ongoing legacy of colonialism.
How to reduce the need for care — or manage it better when it’s necessary — was the subject of a report recently prepared by the Children’s Health Policy Centre at the request of the office of the BC Representative for Children and Youth.
The report identifies:
- Successful programs for preventing child maltreatment
- Numbers on the burden of mental disorders for children in care, with prevalence approximately four times higher than in the general population of children
- Successful prevention and treatment programs for addressing mental well-being specifically for children in government care
These findings can inform efforts to improve the well-being of some of British Columbia’s most disadvantaged children.
For more information and to review the entire report, see here.
How can the province of BC better address the current opioid crisis?
That was the subject of a 60-minute Zoom-based talk by the Children’s Health Policy Centre on Aug. 3/22 to the Select Standing Committee on Health for the BC Legislature.
Roughly 10 MLAs and their staff attended to hear a presentation prepared by Charlotte Waddell, Christine Schwartz, Nicole Catherine, Jen Barican and Donna Young.
The CHPC team urged the province to tackle the toxic drug supply problem in a new way — by addressing social inequities that contribute to substance use problems for young people and by providing effective prevention and treatment programs for them.
“We need to start early in life — not waiting until problems are entrenched in adolescence or adulthood,” said director of the Centre, Charlotte Waddell. “We also need to address the underlying social inequities that are driving the problem.”
The group suggested that the province needs to double its investments in child and youth mental health and work to ensure that services are better coordinated across the multiple ministries and health authorities currently involved.
What are the next steps for the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program in BC?
That was the subject of a 45-minute talk to the Fraser Health Authority NFP nursing team on June 1/22. Nicole Catherine, Mowafaghian University Research Associate with the Children’s Health Policy Centre had been invited to provide a celebratory update to the nursing team.
A primary prevention program for young, first-time moms, Nurse-Family Partnership, has been the subject of a scientific evaluation, the BC Healthy Connections Project led by the Children’s Health Policy Centre in collaboration with Fraser Health Authority, the BC government and three other health authorities. “The NFP nursing team’s dedication and commitment was tremendous,” Catherine told the group. “The trial is now providing rigorous evidence on how NFP works in BC.”
She also commented on the special challenges presented by Covid. “I’ve heard from the NFP nurses how life has become even more difficult for these children and families since the onset of the pandemic,” she said. “But we feel united by our desire to see all children flourish.”
Many of the nurses currently delivering the program were involved in the original trial and they said they have been impressed by the knowledge being generated by the study – and they hope it will inform new policies and programs to better support underserved children.