Statistics Canada released a new report, Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities: Closing the gap in health and education outcomes for Indigenous children in Canada, on June 8, 2017. The study found evidence that Indigenous early childhood development programs such as Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC) are associated with positive health and education outcomes for both elementary and intermediate/high school aged Canadian Indigenous children.
The study also found that AHSUNC is successfully reaching high risk Indigenous populations. Children who have attended these programs experience significantly greater socio-demographic challenges such as living with a single parent, having a parent or grandparent who attended residential school, living in the north and in a lower income household than those who attended non-Indigenous-focused early child development programs.
Children and youth who participated in AHSUNC achieve similar health and education outcomes as their peers who are not faced with the same adversity.
These results suggest that AHSUNC and its focus on Indigenous culture and language helps participating Indigenous children to close the gap in health and education outcomes with non-AHSUNC participants who are not faced with the same adversity. These results also suggest that the program helps these children become more resilient and results in healthier and higher-achieving students.