UNICEF index tracks well-being

UNICEF Canada’s One Youth recently launched the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being, a new tool to track progress on children’s rights and well-being and guide action to address the greatest challenges faced by kids in Canada.

“The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being is a tool that will help us better understand what life is like for Canada’s kids. We know from UNICEF’s Report Cards that Canada ranks 25 among the world’s 41 richest countries in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If we want to do better for children in Canada, we need to do things differently. That starts with better understanding the state of Canada’s children,” said David Morley, president and CEO of UNICEF Canada.

Built with children and youth, the Index is a work in progress. It brings together existing and new data to start conversations and support action:

Do children feel like they belong? Only one in three 11- to 15-year-olds says they have supportive relationships in their family and only one in three says they have supportive relationships with their teachers. Why does it matter? Because feeling supported by and connected to family, friends, teachers, people in the community and, for some, their pets, contributes to a sense of belonging and to many aspects of well-being including health, learning and protection.

Are children free to play? Only 20 per cent of 5- to 11-year olds engage in active play and unstructured leisure activities for more than two hours a day, yet play and leisure are critical to development and influence every aspect of well-being.

Are children connected to their environment? Living in a sustainable environment is a critical aspect of child and youth well-being. Young people are also committed to being good stewards of the environment and should be included in decisions affecting it.

The development of the index is a multi-stage process. UNICEF Canada’s One Youth wants to know what Canadians think about the issues raised in the Index and is inviting all Canadians to submit ideas (www.unicef.ca) to improve the way we think about and measure children’s rights and well-being.

The first, baseline report of the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being will be released in 2019 with full data and analysis, and new tools to help turn data into action.