By Hannah Owczar

Early years development sets the course for emotional, physical and overall social wellbeing of people as they age, according to the World Health Organization. 

That’s why research out Red River College’s Science of Early Child Development (SCED) project is so important, said Mia Elfenbaum, member of the research faculty.

 The initiative is known nation-wide as a leading research hub for early child development.     

“Essentially, we’re trying to help people understand some core concepts about early years and early human development,” said Elfenbaum. “It’s a small piece helping professionals really develop their understanding and abilities to support children and families get off to a healthy start.”

According to UNICEF, there is evidence that brain development is most rapid in early years. If quality of life and nurturance isn’t adequate, child development outcomes could be seriously affected. 

Health services, health services workers and community providers play an important role in promoting healthy child development. Providing children with necessary and consistent care will create a foundation in early years that will contribute to better health and wellbeing in adulthood, stated the report.  

Funding from province offers online living textbooks and modules for free to all Manitobans./ OWCZAR  

The SECD project was a way to fill the need for new, up-to-date research about early child development at Red River College. It’s been around for nearly 18 years but became an online platform in 2005, said Elfenbaum. 

“It made more sense to publish something online rather than to come out with another book. The research was coming out so quickly that by the time a book was printed and distributed, we would already be working on the second edition,” she said. 

Research out of the SECD project is now available, free of charge to all Manitobans on smartphones, tablets, and computers. Last month, the Province of Manitoba announced $365,500 worth of spending on the project as part of their new poverty reduction strategy.

In a news release, the province said they are committed to supporting investments in early child development to strengthen sectors working with children and families and to improve quality of services for Manitoba families. 

Money will go towards technological costs and creating more professional development resources, said Elfenbaum. 

Although students are the primary users, Elfenbaum said the research is crucial for anyone working with children and families.