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Learn About Our Provider Survey

The survey for service providers and leaders is now closed. Thank you to everyone who participated!
We look forward to sharing the results of this survey.

Learn About Our Parent Survey

The parent survey is now closed. Thank you to everyone who participated!
We look forward to sharing the results of this survey.

Addressing Inequities

Why are we doing this research?

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, many families living in rural and northern parts of BC and raising young children with extra support needs, often faced social, economic and geographical barriers to accessing a wide-range of information, supports and services for their children’s early health, development and well-being. This longstanding lack of equitable access can increase the risk of rural and northern children with diverse abilities and/or complex health conditions having poorer early health and developmental outcomes and life opportunities compared to children living in closer proximity to urban centres. Given the importance of the early years, this ‘inequity from the start’ can have lifelong consequences on families and children’s quality of life and children’s life chances.

While the pandemic has shone a light on the untapped potential for information and communication technologies (apps, cell phones, Facebook, teleconference platforms such as Zoom etc.) to be used as long-term, additional ways for parents to access early children’s health and development information and connect with service providers – policies and practices related to this additional form of access have yet to be informed by the lived experiences, views and preferences of rural and northern families, service providers and agency leaders.

Community Voices on Tapping into Tech

What is the purpose of this research?

‘Community Voices on Tapping into Tech’ is a two-year (2021-2023), province-wide, community-driven research project aimed at improving rural and northern families’ equitable access to early child development (ECD) and health resources and services by using information and communication technologies as long-term, optional modes of service delivery in addition to in-person supports, programs and services.

With a newly formed, ‘Tapping into Tech Community Council’, this project is exploring how information and communication technologies (including apps, texting/messaging, Facebook, videoconferencing, etc.) can be used after the pandemic as long-term, alternative ways for urban and northern families to have easier and timely access to ECD and child health information and connect with services, in addition to in-person options. A priority for this project is to ensure that any related policy and practice changes are informed by and responsive to the priorities and preferences of Indigenous, non-Indigenous and newcomer families who for various reasons can find the ECD system in BC hard to reach.

This two-year, participatory action research project has the potential to make a large and lasting impact on the provincial early child development (ECD) system by mobilizing community knowledge(s) to tailor information and communication technologies in response to the lived realities, preferences and resources of northern and rural families and ECD agencies.

Research Approach

How are we doing this research?

Through community-based, participatory action-research methods, we are connecting with rural and northern Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), non-Indigenous and newcomer parents/guardians, children and early child development agencies, in order to understand their views, preferences and needs on using information and communication technologies to support infants and young children’s optimal health, development and well-being and reduce the burden on rural and northern parents/guardians of only having in-person supports and services.

Decisions about how we do this research is guided by a newly formed ‘Tapping into Tech Community Council’ that includes community and university researchers. The Council will collaborate on recruitment materials and strategies, data collection tools, knowledge mobilization and actions in order to ensure that the research process and community-generated knowledge(s) are inclusive, respectful and beneficial for rural and northern families and communities and advances equity in the early child development system in BC.

See ‘About Us‘ for further information about our Council members.

Funding

Who is funding this research?

The ‘Tapping into Tech Community Council’ is extremely grateful that this project is being funded by a 2-year Vancouver Foundation Participatory Action Research grant.

About Us

Community-University Partnership

Who is doing this research?

The project co-leads for gaining funding for this research are Dr. Alison Gerlach in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria and Jason Gordon, Provincial Advocate with the BC Association of Child Development and Intervention. This research design and process are driven by a ‘Tapping into Tech Community Council.’

Community Council

The Tapping into Tech Community Council provides guidance and support to the project to ensure that community voices inform the research process and implementation of the findings. Council members include rural and northern parents, youth and ECD service providers who serve as community researchers, provincial, grassroots child disability advocacy groups and, university researchers.

Project Co-leads

Dr. Alison Gerlach
Alison Gerlach, MSc (OT), PhD, is an Assistant Professor and White-settler in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria and co-lead of the Tapping into Tech project. Alison’s program of research aims to inform how early childhood and intervention services and systems can be inclusive of and responsive to families whose daily lives include experiences of structural marginalization and discrimination. She is currently collaborating on multiple projects including with the BC RCY Office on a research brief – ‘Orienting an Early Years System of Care towards Equity’, co-leading a 2-year provincial participatory action research project ‘Community Voices on Tapping into Tech’, partnering on a Jordan’s Principle Project in Manitoba and a trauma- and violence-informed childcare program in Victoria BC.

Jason Gordon
Jason Gordon, MHS, BScPT, Executive Director, BC Association for BC Association of Child Development & Intervention. Jason has worked in community based early intervention services for more than 20 years, the past 11 as the Provincial Advisor for the BC Association for Child Development and Intervention (BCACDI). BCACDI is a provincial network of 32 community agencies that support children and youth with developmental disabilities. His Provincial Advisor role primarily consists of establishing relationships with Government and providing a sector perspective to policy and impacts on service delivery. He has also engaged with researchers on a variety of projects to facilitate connections with community stakeholders across the province. Mr. Gordon has a passion for equitable and accessible early intervention service delivery to children, youth and families.

Project Manager

Dr. Theresa Hunter
Theresa Hunter, PhD, has a background in research & evaluation, project management, comparative policy analysis of children’s rights agencies and research ethics. She has 20 years’ experience conducting research in the early learning and child care field, including provincial child care surveys, quality assessment and qualitative studies involving parents, child care providers and administrators. She is currently the manager of this BC-wide, participatory action research project.

Community Council Members

 

Diana Elliott
Diana Elliott is the Provincial Advisor for 58 Aboriginal Infant Development Programs in B.C. and approximately 180 AIDP frontline professionals. Diana is Coast Salish from Cowichan Tribes in Duncan B.C. with equal roots in the Nuu Chah Nulth Territory and the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni.  She values the cultural teachings of her Elders and incorporates these teachings and philosophies into her daily work and ethics. Working from the philosophy that each child is a gift from the Creator, Diana appreciates the importance of enriching early and lifelong learning and the benefits of family and parenting support from a culturally meaningful and safe place. Diana is proud to work with AIDP for almost 30 years as a front-line worker, supervisor, program manager which led her to her current role as the Provincial Advisor for AIDP both on and off-reserve throughout B.C. for the last 19 years. AIDP website: https://www.aidp.bc.ca/
Jackie Watts is a member of the Tseshaht First Nation and the Provincial Advisor for 57 Aboriginal Supported Child Development Programs across British Columbia which provides supports for young children with developmental delays and disabilities so that they can be fully included in child care settings and their communities.

Angela Clancy
Angela Clancy has been the Executive Director of the Family Support Institute of BC for 20 years. In her role at FSIBC she has been able to maximize her long history of experience and education with families who face the ongoing challenges and celebrations that come with having a family member with a disability. Angela has been personally and professionally inspired by growing up with her brother Alan, who requires ongoing supports throughout his life due to disability support needs. Angela has 3 daughters who have all individually taught her lessons about herself and her dedication to family. Angela’s education and life experience have led her to form a strong value system that is based on equal rights, equal opportunities, and community inclusion for all people. Angela has vast experience in trauma informed practice, cultural competency and safety, and mental health challenges and applies these skills to all her work with families.

Dr. Erika Cedillo
Dr. Erika Cedillo joined Inclusion BC in the summer of 2018 as a Community Inclusion Advocate and became the Director of Public Policy and Programs in May of 2020. Erika is a strong, effective advocate and support for families and brings a collaborative and solutions-based approach to her work with Inclusion BC. This non-profit provincial organization advocates for the rights and opportunities of children and adults with intellectual disabilities and their families; guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which recognizes the full citizenship and human rights of people with intellectual disabilities. Working on this PAR project with Erika will be Karla Vershoor, Executive Director of Inclusion BC, and others from the Inclusion BC team.

Dr. Kim Miller
Dr. Kim Miller, PhD, PT, is a physiotherapist who works as the Senior Leader, Clinical Education & Special Projects and leads the Child Development and Rehabilitation Evidence Centre at Sunny Hill Health Centre Children, BC Children’s Hospital. Her expertise is in education and knowledge translation.  Her work supports putting more of what we know from research evidence, practice-based experience and lived experiences into what we do when making healthcare decisions.  This includes supports for youth and families to be involved in making informed decisions with their healthcare providers and designing knowledge products together. She’s currently leading the redesign of the Child Development and Rehabilitation website to support these efforts.

Dr. Kim Bulkeley
Dr. Kim Bulkeley, University of Sydney, NSW Australia. Dr. Bulkeley’s program of research is focused on service models for people with a disability through action research partnerships. Rural and remote locations and areas that experience disadvantage and poor service access are a feature of her work which acknowledges the importance of sustained engagement with government, industry partners, local communities (particularly in rural and remote areas) and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait stakeholders. Her knowledge of appropriate research methods and relationships with Aboriginal communities in western New South Wales are fundamental to the success of her projects. Dr. Bulkeley values the opportunity to work in diverse research teams and has a good track record as a team player with long standing collaborations and collegial networks. Dr. Bulkeley has a well established research track exploring the inclusion of technology in service delivery and design for people with disability in an Australian context. She is motivated to understand how this applies in other jurisdictions to bolster support networks in diverse locations.

Lisa Marsh
Lisa Marsh is one of the Hub Resource Coordinators with the Jordan’s Principle Enhanced Service Coordination Hub with the BC Aboriginal Childcare Society. She is an Early Childhood Educator with a background in Aboriginal Infant and Supported Child Development. The proud mother to a Cree Métis daughter with complex mental health needs, Lisa has had to navigate complex systems of care both personally and professionally, providing her with a great understanding of the barriers children and families face when seeking support and services.

Laranna Scott
Laranna Scott is the Early Learning and Child Care Engagement Manager for Métis Nation BC and joins the council from Grand Forks, on the shared territory known as “the Boundary.” Métis herself, Laranna holds a certificate in Early Childhood Education and diplomas in Special Needs Education and Infant-Toddler Education, culminating in a Bachelor of Arts degree in Child and Youth Care from the University of the Fraser Valley. She’s a proud parent and strong advocate for children and youth with extra support needs. In 2017, Laranna was honoured to accept the BCACCS Aboriginal Child Care Recognition Award which recognizes Early Childhood Educators acting as exceptional role models.

Nikki Scott
Nikki Scott works, lives and plays in Delta, B.C., the traditional territory of the Tsawwassen People. As the Child Care Coordinator for the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, Nikki brings over 15 years of experience working with and specializing in the early childhood age range. Through her recent work with the Surrey School District’s Aboriginal Education Department, Nikki gained extensive experience in project management and valuable understanding in supporting government agencies, educators, Indigenous children, youth and families, as well as Aboriginal Friendship Centres.
Having Comanche ancestry, she has spent a number of years as an adult learning to reclaim her culture and has aspired to gain a solid understanding of Indigenous perspectives, family values and the knowledge of weaving Indigenous understanding through the work she does.
As a mom to three adult children, Nikki spends most of her spare time hiking with her dogs and husband in the gorgeous Fraser Valley. If she’s not hiking, you will find her in the backyard gardening, reading or chasing chickens!
British Columbia Representative for Children and Youth
BC Complex Kids Society

Community Researchers

We value listening to, learning from, and working with parents, youth and ECD providers as Community Researchers to actively inform and contribute towards our research activities.

Parent Community Researchers

Brenda Lenahan and Cole
Brenda Lenahan (Tahsis) is mom to a young son with complex disabilities which has led to her involvement in advocacy, research, and her home based business selling adaptive outdoor recreation equipment. As a parent advocate for a grass roots group she founded in 2017, called BC Complex Kids, she advocates for access to equitable support for kids with complex disabilities and medical complexity.
Brenda works as a partner on various research projects and initiatives in hopes that one day the research can inform needed policy changes both provincially and federally. She is also a passionate advocate for accessibility of the built environment and the inclusion of everyone in outdoor recreation spaces.
Brenda has an optimistic heart and hopeful vision of an equitable future for her son and all persons with disabilities in Canada. Despite the systemic hurdles she and her son face, she embraces every moment of learning and love that accompanies this life with her son.

Symbia Barnaby
Symbia Barnaby (Prince Rupert) is a Community Researcher on the Tapping into Tech project. Symbia is an Indigenous woman of Haida and Mi’kmaq descent living in northern BC. Her traditional Haida name is Guu Gaa Jung and her spirit name is Warrior Woman. She is a single mother of 6 children (5 of whom have disabilities ranging from autism spectrum disorder to ADD and ADHD). She is trained as a Practical Nurse, a birth/postpartum Doula and a Reiki Level 3 practitioner. She is also a storyteller, film-maker and Wisdom Translator. Symbia has consulted on, developed and run many workshops on anti-racism, disability, inclusive education, intersectionality and health equity through an Indigenous lens. Symbia also volunteers as the lead for the Health Advocacy Team with a national NGP called Moms Against Racism Canada.

Youth Community Researchers

Kate Gibbs
Kate Gibbs is a Community Researcher on the Tapping into Tech project. Kate lives in the beautiful and friendly, small community of Invermere, BC. Kate believes strongly in inclusion for all, and will do anything she can to help make that a reality. She believes in strong, quiet and kind advocacy, and that inclusion works when we all come together and lift each other up. Kate is also passionate about working with families of people who have newly diagnosed diverse abilities to help them see the possibilities in their family member’s life.
Kate has worked with many organizations that advocate for people with diverse abilities. She takes part in Invermere’s local Special Olympic program, and was the first adaptive skier with Panorama Adaptive Snow Sports. She has co-authored a children’s book, worked as a reporter and a torch bearer for the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics, and spoke at the Ottawa Senate Chamber on the National day of the Child, advertising technology that can be used by people with diverse abilities. Kate is passionate about bringing awareness to the gifts that people with diverse abilities bring to our communities and to the world. Now, she is a board member of Inclusion BC, which advocates for people who have cognitive diverse abilities, and is working on developing a diverse ability history project about people who have diverse abilities to present to high school students, in hopes of furthering inclusion in youth groups.
Sam Bond is a high school student, gamer and advocate living in Terrace BC. He has lived experience of autism, anxiety, and complex medical needs. Sam is actively involved with various community agencies, including Inclusion BC and Community Living BC. As a Youth Community Researcher with the Tapping into Tech, Sam designed our logo and is seeking to gain work experience and contribute to advocacy toward the goal that everyone has a chance at their best life.

ECD Community Researchers

Crystal Kalas
Crystal Kalas is a Special Services Supervisor with the Fort St John Child Development Centre and a Community Researcher on the Tapping into Tech project. Crystal has worked at the Fort St. John CDC for the past 20 years and has held a variety of roles during that time. She values the opportunity she has had to walk alongside the children with special needs and their families, with whom she works through their journey from early diagnosis to adulthood. A perpetual learner, Crystal enjoys taking on new opportunities and expanding her knowledge base.

Cheryl Work
Cheryl Work, SLTA, works for the Northwest Child Development Centre in Fort St. James, BC (located 1.5 hours northwest of Prince George) and is a Community Researcher on the Tapping into Tech project. She recently graduated from MacEwan University’s Speech Language Therapy Assistant Program and currently works to support the CDC therapy team with speech and language related tasks. Prior to working for the CDC, Cheryl spent 11 years working in community development for early years programming. As a lifetime resident of Fort St. James and a parent of three children, Cheryl is passionate to ensure that our youngest residents enjoy access to required developmental support. The Tapping into Tech project provides further opportunities to help make the changes her region needs to serve our youngest citizens.

Child Development Agency Partners

Two northern child development agencies are partnering on this research by forming Tapping into Tech Working Groups that include one ECD Community Researcher, the Executive Director and other staff members as needed. In the first year, the ECD Community Researchers will help create a community profile of their service delivery areas and undertake an environmental scan of their agencies’ current policies and practices related to the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). In the second year, ECD agency partners will collaborate on mobilization some of the findings emerging from this research into policies and actions aimed at improving the use of ICTs to reach northern and rural families and children.

Fort St. John Child Development Centre
Northwest Child Development Centre

Getting Involved

How You Can Participate

How can you learn more and/or get involved in this research?

Are you raising a family in a rural or northern area of BC?

Do you have a young child aged birth to six years (0-6) who has extra support needs?

Have you found it difficult to get information and services to support your child’s optimal health and development?

We want to listen to and learn from Indigenous (First Nation, Inuit and Métis), non-Indigenous and newcomer/immigrant parents and guardians living in rural and northern BC and raising children aged birth to six years, who need extra support from a wide range of services and systems in order to achieve optimal health and well-being. Children’s extra support needs may be related to developmental delays, diverse intellectual or physical abilities, or neurodevelopmental conditions, for example:

    • Hearing / Visual impairment
    • Complex health conditions
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
    • Cerebral Palsy
    • Down’s syndrome

To learn more or get involved…

Please email Theresa, our Project Manager: tappingintotech@uvic.ca

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