Healthy Child Development
Health Canada supports a number of programs and services which are aimed at contributing to the health and social development of Aboriginal preschool children and their families.
For example, Health Canada's Aboriginal Head Start programs are comprehensive early intervention programs for Aboriginal preschool children and their families. Serving to prepare young Aboriginal children for school by meeting their spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical needs, these programs include:
- Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities which was created by the Government of Canada in 1995; and
- Aboriginal Head Start On Reserve - for First Nations children on-reserve - which was created by the Government of Canada in 1998.
In October 2002, the Government of Canada announced the Federal Strategy on Early Childhood Development for First Nations and Other Aboriginal Children. The Federal Strategy provides $320 million over five years for several areas of activities, including:
- Enhancing existing federal early childhood development programs, such as the expansion of the Aboriginal Head Start programs; and
- Working towards better integration of federal early childhood development programs.
These programs prepare young Aboriginal children for their school years, by meeting their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. The funds are designed and managed by First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. More than 350 sites in First Nations communities offer the program, benefiting 9,100 children. Another 3,900 Aboriginal children participate in programs at 130 sites in urban and northern centres.
In addition to helping prepare children for school, Aboriginal Head Start programs teach children about their Aboriginal language and culture and involve parents, Elders and community members.
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