Current research projects


Timeline:  Spring 2020

Summary:   In this study, using an online survey, we asked kindergarten educators about the realities of distance learning, their concerns for the return to school, as well as about their own health. The overarching aim of this study is to establish a scope of challenges and facilitators of psychosocial adjustment during the transition back to school-based learning for the youngest
students, their families, and their educators.

HiFLEC descriptive report 28 Aug 2020 EN
HiFLEC infograph 28 Aug 2020 EN
HiFLEC rapport descriptif 28 Aug 2020 FR
HiFLEC infograph 28 Aug 2020 FR

Missed opportunities for early intervention: Determinants of prevalence and characteristics of children with impairments unrecognized in health systems by kindergarten age among the 2009 birth cohort of Ontario children (MOFEID)

Funding: CIHR

Principal investigators: Magdalena Janus, McMaster University & Astrid Guttmann, ICES

Co-Investigators: Catherine Birken, University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Children; Marni Brownell, University of Manitoba; Eric Duku, McMaster University; Anne Gadermann, University of British Columbia; Heather Manson, Public Health Ontario

Timeline: March 2020 to February 2022

Summary:  The percentage of children who enter school with a health impairment or special health needs (ISHN) has been increasing in Ontario slowly but steadily. Yet, little is known how many of these children have not been flagged in the health system prior to school entry and thus missed an opportunity to benefit from early intervention. The objectives of this study are to: 1) describe the prevalence and characteristics of children with teacher-reported ISHN at school entry who were not previously identified in health service records; and 2) examine the risk factors associated with a lack of early identification. The overall aim of our study is to address the extent of missed early intervention opportunities by examining among kindergarten children who are reported by teachers as having ISHN, what are the factors associated with an absence of identification in the health services systems prior to school entry.

Student Achievement Trajectories in Ontario: Capacities, Contexts, and Causes

Funding:  SSHRC

Principal investigators: Scott Davies, University of Toronto; Magdalena Janus, McMaster University

Co-Investigators: Marni Brownell, University of Manitoba; Eric Duku, McMaster University; James Dunn, McMaster University; Anne Gadermann, University of British Columbia; Katholiki Georgiades, McMaster University; Martin Guhn, University of British Columbia; Jessie-Lee McIsaac, Mount Saint Vincent University; Laurie McNelles, Education Quality and Accountability Office

Timeline:  April 2020 to March 2024

Summary:  Student achievement is a process that unfolds over a long period of time. Canada currently lacks national longitudinal data that track students from primary to secondary grades. Our project will advance the study of achievement in Canada by creating a population-level dataset in Ontario that tracks student trajectories from kindergarten to Grade 10. We will link 4 administrative databases, of which 2 are already linked, to track 60,000 Ontario students from kindergarten through Grades 3, 6, 9,10, adding new cohorts as they become available. These data will have a rich mix of measures of child demographics, developmental capacities, school and neighborhood contexts.

Examining the social determinants of children’s developmental health with a population-level, Pan-Canadian database

Funding: CIHR

Timeline: April 2013-March 2016

Summary: Developmental health outcomes are not equally distributed in our society. Rather, they follow clear socioeconomic gradients. The main objective of the research project is to establish and analyze the first Pan-Canadian population-level database on children’s developmental health and associated socioeconomic and demographic context factors. The database will provide research insights that are unique in their own right. At the same time, the database will serve as a platform for future research that aims to establish population-level developmental health trajectory databases.

Fit for school, fit for life – Child health and school readiness

Funding: CIHR

Timeline: April 2014-March 2019

Summary: There is new research showing that health and developmental patterns such as BMI, physical activity, and nutrition measured very early in life may be associated with school readiness. This study will collect children’s height and weight to calculate their BMI, physical activity, sedentary behaviours, nutrition, and laboratory tests for nutrition and cardiovascular risk during health visits from birth to 3 years of age in their primary care physician’s office setting through TARGet Kids!, an established child health research network in Toronto. Children’s kindergarten teachers will then complete the EDI in JK and/or SK with the goal of determining if these health and developmental patterns early in life are associated with school readiness. Results from this study will support current health and developmental care in primary care for children, and find new areas to improve school readiness. This evidence will be used towards the promotion of school readiness in young children in Canada.

For more information on the Fit for school, fit for life study please click here.

Anesthesia exposure in early life and child development at school-entry: A population-based study

Funding: None

Timeline: October 2014-Ongoing

Summary: Anesthetics are known to have detrimental off-target effects that are especially pertinent to developing, non-mature cells and organs. There is increasing basic science and clinical evidence that children with developing neuronal structure and function are more susceptible to long-term effects in learning and behaviour. This study is looking at whether anesthesia exposure in children with immature structural and functional brain development has long-term adverse effects on child development at school-entry compared to children not exposed to anesthesia and whether this exposure has a dose-dependent association.

Canadian children with health disorders

Funding: CIHR

Timeline: September 2015-August 2018

Summary: The overall objectives of this study are to investigate social determinants of developmental outcomes for children with health disorders, and their variation among jurisdictions, as well as estimate prevalence of health disorders at an early age, using the EDI. There is evidence that childhood health disorders are associated with lower SES, however, it is not known whether the size of the SES effect is larger in children with health disorders than in typically developing children. Results of this study will have implications for both health service delivery and school-based intervention strategies and will contribute to a framework for public policy.