Shared framework for reporting on progress in improving and expanding Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs and services
In order to help ensure consistency in the type of information that they provide to the public about their activities and expenditures under the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Early Childhood Development Agreement, governments have agreed on a shared framework for reporting. The shared framework provides a set of principles and guidelines for annual reporting by each government on their progress in improving and expanding the programs and services in which they are investing as part of the ECD Agreement. The full text of the shared framework, as agreed upon by governments, is provided below.
Public reporting is a key element of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Early Childhood Development Initiative. The September 2000 First Ministers’ Meeting Communiqué on Early Childhood DevelopmentFootnote 1 states that:
“…First Ministers believe in the importance of being accountable to Canadians for the early childhood development services that they deliver. Clear public reporting will enhance accountability and will allow the public to track progress in improving the well-being of Canada’s young children. Regular measuring of, and reporting on early childhood development provides governments and others with a powerful tool to inform policy-making and to ensure that actions are as focussed and effective as possible.
Therefore, First Ministers commit their governments to:
As noted in the communiqué, “the purpose of performance measurement is for all governments to be accountable to their publics, not to each other.”
The purpose of the shared framework is to provide a set of principles and guidelines, “including jointly agreed comparable indicators, to permit each government to report on progress in improving and expanding early childhood development programs and services” within the four areas for action identified by First Ministers.
In addition to their commitment to report on programs and services, governments also committed to report regularly on an agreed upon set of indicators of child well-being. However, this commitment is being addressed by governments as part of a separate process and therefore lies outside of the scope of this shared framework.
Reporting by governments will be informed by the following statements included in the Early Childhood Development Communiqué:
In addition to specific direction from the Communiqué, provincial and territorial governments agree that:
Each government will report annually, using the shared framework, on the activities that they have selected as priorities for investment. Reports will indicate changes that have been implemented related to prior year investments. Reports will also indicate in which of the four areas for action governments have made investments under the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Early Childhood Development Initiative. The four areas are:
Reports will contain the following descriptive information on programs and services that have been improved and/or expanded:
Descriptive information may also be provided on the following areas related to program development, improvement, and/or integration, as appropriate:
As appropriate, governments may report on programs and services using additional indicators to those described below.
Governments will report on changes in expenditures on ECD programs and services relative to the prior fiscal year.
For programs and initiatives providing direct services to clients:
Governments will report on the availability of early childhood development programs and services funded under the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Early Childhood Development Initiative using one or more of the following indicators:
Where the objective of an investment by governments is to improve accessibility, governments will report on one or more of the following indicators of accessibility:
Where the objective of an investment by governments is to improve affordability, governments will report on changes in the fee and/or subsidy structures of the relevant programs.
Where the objective of an investment by governments is to improve quality, governments will report on one or more indicators of quality, such as:
For other programs and initiatives related to the four areas for action (for example, research, public education, information, and related activities):
Governments will report on descriptive information and expenditures as indicated above.
The public reporting requirements set out in this shared framework can be met through a number of vehicles including: stand alone reports, new or existing public reports on children, and departmental reports and/or business plans.
Governments agree to inform other governments of the vehicle they will use to meet reporting requirements and to provide advance notice, wherever possible, to other governments regarding the approximate date of release for their respective early childhood development reports.
Governments will report annually on their investments in early childhood development and on their progress in enhancing programs and services in the four areas for action, beginning in September 2002.
First Ministers have committed to “improve the quality of reporting over time.” After the release of the first set of reports based on the shared framework, officials may undertake a review of the shared framework and make recommendations to Ministers responsible for Social Services and Health as required.
The Government of Quebec has stated that while sharing the same concerns on early childhood development, Quebec does not adhere to the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Early Childhood Development Initiative because sections of it infringe on its constitutional jurisdiction on social matters. Quebec intends to preserve its sole responsibility for developing, planning, managing and delivering early childhood development programs.
The four areas are: promote healthy pregnancy, infancy, and birth; improve parenting and family supports; strengthen early childhood development, learning, and care; and strengthen community supports.