Enhancing Child Well-being: UNICEF Canada

As an industrialized nation, rich in resources and capacity, we would expect that Canada’s children are doing well. Some children are, yet generally, Canada’s overall child well-being has been middling for over a decade in comparison to the richest countries in the world.

Why is it that some countries are consistently at the top of these rankings? How have other countries moved up in the rankings? Looking beyond the data, what is happening in these countries to support a climate for children to do well?

To understand how we can do a better job, UNICEF Canada commissioned the Institute for Child Rights and Development to explore the underlying factors contributing to child well-being. IICRD’s research, led by Dr. Cheryl Heykoop and Elaina Mack, includes a desk-based review, interviews and focus groups with experts – including adults and young people – from some of the top-performing countries: the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

“In addition to interviews with scholar-practitioners, policy makers and front-line practitioners, we are piloting creative tools with young people, such as this storyboard from a 16-year old New Zealand girl,” says IICRD’s Elaina Mack. “These tools are helping us to better understand young people’s own perspectives about what they need to feel safe, grow and thrive.”

Findings from the research report, which is part of UNICEF Canada’s observatory project, are expected to be shared by the end of the 2016.

“Through our conversations, we have discovered that improving child well-being is complex and challenging. We also recognize that, while we have some big hills to climb, we have all of the necessary tools and resources to improve and enhance the well-being of Canada’s children.” – Dr. Cheryl Heykoop

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