September 2013 – The NCCAH funded the research and writing of a literature review examining child development screening and assessment tools and their efficacy in Aboriginal contexts. This report, authored by Linda McDonell and Rachele Beaulieu, is a background document for a larger project of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society (BC ACCS) to develop training to increase First Nations and Aboriginal Early Childhood Educators’ knowledge and skill in the area of development screening and assessment.
This literature review was undertaken to increase understanding about existing development screening and assessment methods, particularly for Aboriginal children. A diverse range of documents were reviewed for this report and presented in chronological order to show the evolution of perspectives over time. Synthesis of the literature resulted in a list of challenges and strengths related to screening and assessing Aboriginal children specifically, and of children and youth generally.
The literature shows there are many concerns from parents, families, professionals, and researchers about the efficacy and sensitivity of tools used to assess the development of Aboriginal children. The insights and issues assembled in this report will help improve methods used and ensure they are “more reflective of the interests, values and aspirations of Aboriginal families for their children and the cultural context of their lives” (p. 28).
Karen Isaac and Mary Burgaretta of BC ACCS noted that, “[a]ssessment tools have often been viewed with suspicion by Aboriginal families, and sensitive Early Childhood Educators in First Nations and Aboriginal programs can feel uncomfortable using tools that do not reflect cultural values.”
“BC ACCS is developing a training curriculum to assist Aboriginal ECEs to become more knowledgeable about the intricacies of screening and assessment. The literature review funded by NCCAH has provided a strong foundation for the survey tool that has informed the development of the curriculum. We are grateful for the support of NCCAH and view them as a vital partner in helping us create and share research that will improve the quality of AECE practice here in BC and elsewhere.”