Inclusive Early Childhood Service System Project

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, social support, disability, child care

Principal Investigator: Underwood, Kathryn (2)
Licence Number: 16558
Organization: Ryerson University
Licensed Year(s): 2019
Issued: Jun 27, 2019
Project Team: Arlene Hache (Co-investigator, Timiskaming Women's Support Group), Virginia Caputo (Co-investigator, Carleton University), Elaine Frankel (Co-investigator, Ryerson University), Gillian Parekh (Co-investigator, York University), Karen Spalding (Co-investigator, Ryerson University), Tricia van Rhijn (Co-investigator, University of Guelph), Patricia Douglas (Co-investigator, Brandon University), Brenda Poon (Co-investigator, University of British Columbia), Magdelena Janus (Co-investigator, McMaster University), Martha Friendly (Co-investigator, Childcare Resource and Research Unit), Bryany Denning (Collaborator, Yellowknife's Women Society)

Objective(s): To develop theoretical models of the social networks created by services, families, and the communities in which people live; and to create a more complex discourse on early childhood disability that is grounded in a positive understanding of diverse abilities in childhood.

Project Description: The project adopts an Institutional Ethnography approach through annual interviews with families over a 6-year period. This study of institutional practices will draw on more than 800 interviews with families. The research team then consider how the construction of children and families in these services intersects with cultural identities. For example, the team will examine how disability can develop as a cultural experience, into a positive self-concept in adulthood. The project will seek to develop theoretical models of the social networks created by services, families, and the communities in which people live. The ultimate goal is to inform social policy from the perspective of families, and to create a more complex discourse on early childhood disability that is grounded in a positive understanding of diverse abilities in childhood.

The key methodological approach in this research is Institutional Ethnography (IE). The intention of IE is to understand institutional cultures and practices from a particular viewpoint; in this case the perspective of families. Institutional ethnography is concerned with how “ruling relations” shape everyday lives. Ruling relations are the administrative, managerial, professional, and discursive organization of the regulations, and the governing structures of a society. These social relations are illuminated through research, which examines the ideology behind the institution, and the processes that are in place to do the work of the institution. “IE is not empirically focused on ‘experience’ or ‘culture’. Instead, it addresses processes of social organization” .This approach begins with inquiry into lived individual experience and asks the question: “How does the institution work?” Fundamental to the approach is the mapping of how the actual activities of the institution are carried out. The methodological approaches that the team will use to glean empirical evidence of the ideology, the processes, and the social relations to document the work of early intervention and education for children with disabilities from the standpoint of their families.

Participants will self-identify by contacting the research team. Recruitment materials include a recruitment flyer (which will also be made into a poster with the same text), and a letter of introduction to the project. The research team will include a link to the website, which will have a video description of the project in order to make the information more accessible. The flyers will be distributed by staff at childcare, early intervention, and aboriginal service organizations affiliated with the service networks. The research team will interview families once per year for 6 years. After the first year, the team will seek permission to contact participants the following year. Participants will be recruited when their children are pre-school age, and engaged through the early primary school years.

The Inclusive Early Childhood Service System (IECSS) is a first-of-a-kind 7-year partnership in Canada dedicated to understanding the institutional interactions of families who have young children with disabilities through an extended longitudinal study. The partnership formally brings together 16 partners (including host institution) to enable, conduct and facilitate the research. The partners have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and have been part of ongoing collaborations and discussions that led to the research proposed in this project. In addition to safeguarding the direction of research in alignment with their missions and the partnership’s stated objectives, partners will use their existing relationships in the community towards recruitment of parent participants, youth advisory committee members, and key informants. Partner organizations will also be directly involved in various research activities, in particular those under stream 4 (development of policy strategies, policy briefs, and dissemination of insights from the partnership to key provincial and federal policy makers) as well as knowledge mobilization activities.

The research team have various methods of sharing our results. We are partnered with the Yellowknife Women's Centre and through them we will do community presentations, share research briefs, and seek to engage local decision makers to share the findings. The team will also share findings with participants, who find the maps of the service interactions that the team create to be a useful tool for their own advocacy and service navigation. The research team will also invite local organizations and participants to be part of ongoing project activities in other parts of Canada.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from June 28, 2019, to December 31, 2019.