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Associations between community early years program participation and child developmental outcomes : a community-based study Kwan, Amanda Renee

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The early environments that children are exposed to can contribute to their development across multiple areas from physical to emotional health. In particular, centre-based programs have been shown to be associated with positive developmental outcomes for children such as improved language, vocabulary, and pre-academic skills. Qualicum, BC provided a unique opportunity to explore this relationship because of its community-wide initiative to track children’s program attendance. The purpose of this study is to examine the Qualicum community case in depth to better understand program use and determine if exposure to community early years programs is associated with developmental outcomes of children by Kindergarten. METHODS: Data were drawn from a linked database containing children’s community early years program attendance (‘Goose Trax’ repository) and developmental outcome data (Early Development Instrument (EDI) database). Of the 1,464 children (0-5 years old) represented in the linked database, 212 participated in community early years programs. Network analysis to explore program attendance ties and regression analyses to determine associations between participation and developmental outcomes were performed. Program participation, dosage of attendance, diversity of attendance, and popularity of attendance (centrality) were studied as potential contributors to developmental outcomes (EDI scores). RESULTS: Network analysis showed how certain programs were central to the structure of program networks, although no pattern emerged that related centrality to EDI scores. Participation in community early years programs was associated with child development overall, which in this context refers to development across 5 different domains (physical, social, emotional, language, and communication), and development in the social and emotional domains. Models accounted for roughly 10% of the variability in EDI scores. Dosage, diversity, and centrality measures were not found to have an association with EDI scores. DISCUSSION: More needs to be understood about the contextual factors surrounding community early years programs and their potential effects on child development. The findings from this study provide some insights into the potential impacts of differential participation in community early years programs on child developmental outcomes at the population level. Further research is needed to support these findings.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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