This report is dedicated to Dr. Clyde Hertzman. He was a colleague, a mentor and a friend to so many and left us far too early. Everything you see in this report is a product of his vision to create the world’s best system of child development statistics that would stimulate and act as a foundation for, action. He was passionate about using data to shine a light on issues as a way to guide collaborative action toward improved child development outcomes. As he was fond of saying...

" does not have to be this way!"
Photo of Clyde Hertzman, Founder of the Human Early Learning Partnership
Photo of Clyde Hertzman, Founder of the Human Early Learning Partnership


The Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) would like to acknowledge the exceptional support we have received since 2001 from the Ministries of Children and Family Development, Education, and Health. This investment has supported the development of a unique child development monitoring system that provides a foundation for high quality, evidence-informed decisions on behalf of children and their families.

Letter to the Reader

This report highlights important child development data and trends across BC. These data provide an opportunity to start new and deepen existing conversations at every level. They form a common place to start as we work together to improve child outcomes across the province.

In some cases, you will see that the trends outlined in this report are of concern, particularly in the areas of emotional maturity and social competence. These are topics around which communities and organizations can come together to engage in inquiry, generative conversations and collaborative action. Additionally, EDI data show that there are positive things occurring across the province from which lessons can be drawn. In both cases, it is clear that the data provide us with the impetus, whatever our role, toward a shared commitment of identifying and creating the conditions that foster and promote child well-being.

For more than a decade, there has been tremendous energy and commitment, across all sectors in BC, dedicated toward improving child outcomes. Although at times it may feel as if the efforts have not been successful, it is important to note that from a systems perspective, there is often a lag between focused attention to a problem and positive results. At HELP, we have a great deal of optimism about the future as we look at the number and range of more systemic approaches to improving child well-being unfolding across the province. We respect and value all those with whom we have worked collaboratively over the past years, and we look forward to being a part of this on-going work.




Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, Director & Pippa Rowcliffe, Deputy Director

Learn more about the Early Development Instrument, the Human Early Learning Partnership and it's Human Development Program of Research and Child Development Monitoring system.

The Early Development Instrument

The EDI measures childhood vulnerability rates, reflecting how children’s experiences and environments in the first five years of their lives have affected their development as a whole. Learn More about the EDI.


An Introduction to the EDI

The EDI is a questionnaire used province-wide to measure patterns and trends in children’s developmental health. HELP has been collecting EDI data since 2001 and over the course of this period we have collected data for over 245,000 kindergarten children in BC. This has created an important foundation for a population health monitoring system that supports an increased understanding of children’s early developmental outcomes over time and across geographies.

EDI Wave Timeline A timeline graphic showing the groups of years that make up all the waves of EDI implementation. WAVE 1 WAVE 2 WAVE 3 WAVE 4 WAVE 5 WAVE 6 2001-04 2004-07 2007-09 2009-11 2011-13 2013-16 40,312 37,756 37,398 46,671 42,406 43,181 NUMBER OF CHILDREN SCHOOL YEAR 247,724 TOTAL NUMBER OF CHILDREN Note: A ‘Wave’ is a 2-3 school year data collection period, based on the annual school calendar (September - June). Due to changes in the EDI questionnaire after Wave 1 data collection, Wave 2 is HELP’s baseline Wave.

The EDI was developed by Drs. Dan Offord and Magdalena Janus at the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University (Janus et al, 2007) and has been used in provinces and territories across Canada, and internationally, to better understand the developmental trends of kindergarten children (Guhn et al, 2016; Janus et al, 2016). Increasingly, Canadian EDI data are providing a basis for assessing developmental differences and trends in different parts of the country (Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2016).

The EDI was designed as an epidemiological tool to assess population trends and not as an individual diagnostic tool. The questionnaire includes 104 questions arranged in five scales that measure core areas of child development. These areas are strong predictors of health, education and social outcomes in adolescence and adulthood. Kindergarten teachers complete EDI questionnaires for students in their classroom in February of the school year once they have known their children for a while. Teachers participate in a standardized EDI training session prior to completing the questionnaire.

The Five Scales of the EDI

Physical Health & Well-being

Assesses children’s gross and fine motor skills, physical independence and readiness for the school day. E.g. Can the child hold a pencil? Is the child able to manipulate objects? Is the child on time for school?

Social Competence

Assesses children’s overall social competencies, capacity for respect and responsibility, approaches to learning, and readiness to explore new things. E.g. Is the child able to follow class routines? Is the child self-confident? Is the child eager to read a new book?

Emotional Maturity

Assesses children’s prosocial and helping behaviours, as well as hyperactivity and inattention, and aggressive, anxious and fearful behaviours. E.g. Does the child comfort a child who is crying or upset? Does the child help clean up a mess?

Language & Cognitive

Assesses children’s basic and advanced literacy skills, numeracy skills, interest in math and reading, and memory. E.g. Is the child interested in reading and writing? Can the child count and recognize numbers? Is the child able to read simple sentences?

Communication Skills & General Knowledge

Assesses children’s English language skills and general knowledge. E.g. Can the child tell a story? Can the child communicate with adults and children? Can the child take part in imaginative play?

How does the EDI measure Childhood Vulnerability

Data gathered from the EDI are used to report on childhood vulnerability rates. The data illustrate trends in vulnerability over time. Through data analysis and mapping, it also becomes possible to examine regional differences in child vulnerability at multiple geographical levels from a broad provincial snapshot, to community and neighbourhood analyses.

Vulnerable children are those who, without additional support and care, are more likely to experience challenges in their school years and beyond. Vulnerability is assessed for each of the five EDI scales. Children whose scores fall below the vulnerability cut-off on a particular EDI scale are said to be vulnerable in that area of development.

Reporting on EDI Vulnerability

Vulnerability on the Five EDI Scales

The proportion of children vulnerable on each of the five scales of the EDI, measured and reported as vulnerability rates.

Vulnerable on One or More Scales

Vulnerable on One or More Scales is a summary measure that reports the percentage of children who are vulnerable on at least one of the five scales of the EDI. Children represented by this measure may be vulnerable on only one scale or may be experiencing vulnerabilities on two, three, four or all five scales of the EDI.


This year’s report explores EDI subscales scores and how these contribute to scale-level vulnerability. See the ‘Subscales’ section for more information.

Please note: You can reference this content as you explore the report by clicking on the red ‘i’ icon on the bottom right of the browser window. A menu of buttons will open next to it containing a red EDI button that provides easy access to this content. This menu also contains links to HELP’s social media profiles and a contact form.

Linking EDI Data

Understand more about the EDI and it's position in HELP's comprehensive Human Development Program of Research and HELP's Monitoring System.


Linking EDI Data

Our understanding of child development can be improved by linking EDI data to additional population-level data, including data from education and health sectors. HELP is also developing additional population health tools as part of a comprehensive, child development monitoring system. This system builds a deeper understanding of children’s developmental outcomes to support governments, institutions and communities to base decisions on evidence. It also reflects our understanding of how both risk and resiliency influence development at every stage across the early life course.


HELP's Monitoring System An infographic showing the tools and the time periods of implementation that make up HELP's Monitoring System. 0 - Kindergarten Grade 4 TDI CHEQ EDI MDI YDI Grade 10 18M 0-5Y 5Y 9Y Toddlers MDI 12Y Grade 7 15Y Kindergarten

Toddler Development Instrument (TDI) – Completed by parents of 18-month-old toddlers, the TDI questionnaire will gather data about toddlers’ early experiences, access to resources and social support in the home and in the community. The questionnaire is designed to be used alongside existing health screening tools and focuses on the context in which children are developing. The TDI is currently being piloted in partnership with BC Health Authorities in several communities in BC.

Childhood Experiences Questionnaire (CHEQ) – Completed by parents during the kindergarten registration process, the CHEQ questionnaire gathers data about children’s experiences in the home and in the community before they enter school, from ages 0-5. The CHEQ is completed for children in the same school year as their teachers complete the EDI (six months later). As a companion document to the EDI, the CHEQ helps broaden and enrich our understanding of children’s development. It can support the early years’ service sector, bridging this sector with the health and education systems. An electronic version has been piloted in two BC school districts and a roll-out to additional communities is planned for 2017.

Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) – Completed by children in Grades 4 and 7, the MDI questionnaire gathers data about children’s social and emotional well-being, social relationships, time use and general health. Linkable data includes MDI Grade 4 to 7 data, EDI data and Ministry of Education’s Foundational Skills Assessments (also completed in Grades 4 and 7). Since 2009 the MDI has been administered in almost 30 BC school districts and is also being used nationally and internationally.

Youth Development Instrument (YDI) – This survey is in the early planning stages. The goal is to develop a population-level questionnaire, completed by Grade 10 students, that explores the perspectives, environments and experiences of BC’s youth.

About HELP

Find out more about the Human Early Learning Partnership and it's mission, vision and strategic priorities.


The Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP)

The Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) is a research institute, based at the School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of British Columbia. HELP was founded by Dr. Clyde Hertzman and Dr. Hillel Goelman in 1999.

Clyde pioneered a human development research program that focused on exploring children’s early development using a cell-to-society, ecological approach. He envisioned a unique monitoring system that follows populations of children across their early years, a system that would provide a foundation for evidence-based decision-making. Over fifteen years later, HELP is closer than ever to realizing this goal.


All children thriving in healthy societies.


We are an interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children by creating, promoting and mobilizing new knowledge.

Core Strategic Priorities

HELP is committed to being a healthy, learning organization and has three strategic priorities:

  1. Lead a comprehensive interdisciplinary Human Development Program of Research;
  2. Expand our population level child development monitoring system; and,
  3. Build comprehensive and integrated knowledge mobilization approaches.

At the centre of our new strategy is the priority of contributing to the establishment of a comprehensive child development monitoring system in BC. A central component of this system is the Early Development Instrument (EDI) - a questionnaire that has been used across BC and Canada since 2001 to gather data about children’s developmental characteristics at age five and how ready they are to start school (Janus and Reid-Westoby, 2016). EDI data provide essential insights into how the health and well-being of our children is changing over time so that evidence-based decision making can improve investment in children (Davies et al, 2016; Raos and Janus, 2011).

HELP is also developing additional population health tools as part of a comprehensive, child development monitoring system.

This system as a whole is essential in understanding children’s developmental outcomes and acts as a support to governments, institutions and communities as they base decisions on evidence. It also reflects our understanding of how both risk and resiliency influence development at every stage across the early life course.