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Maximizing the ‘early years’: Premier Shawn Graham calls on Margaret Norrie McCain to assist early childhood development committee [CA-NB]

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Rickard, Mark
Publication Date: 
5 Feb 2008

See text below.


A well-known early childhood advocate with roots in the Upper St. John
River Valley has been selected to advise a New Brunswick Cabinet
Committee on Early Childhood Development.

Premier Shawn Graham announced in his State of the Province speech
Thursday evening that former Lt. Gov. Margaret Norrie McCain would
provide assistance and direction to the cabinet committee directed to
work with community groups and stakeholders.

"In order to transform our economy and fully capitalize on these
numerous opportunities, I believe we simply must transform our
workforce. And it starts by giving every child the chance to reach his or her own full
potential," Premier Graham stated. "The first five years of a person's
life are key to their longer term development.. Mrs. McCain has co-authored two
ground-breaking reports on early childhood and her expertise will be
invaluable to us as we make important progress in this key area of early
childhood development."

Premier Graham said he witnessed some of the initiatives that have
developed from McCain's work in Ontario, and "I am extremely grateful
that such a distinguished New Brunswicker and distinguished Canadian
will be returning to her roots here in our province to help us transform early childhood development and care."

In November McCain spoke to valley parents, educators and community
leaders about society's role in the optimal development of children by
the Early Years Planning Group. She stressed that an infant needs plenty
of tender loving care, a structured environment and healthy social interaction to blossom into a productive adult.

"The bottom line is genes need nurturing. And the message here that I
want you to take away is this, experience, experience, experience. The
powerful critical lifelong impact that experience in early years have on
the development of the brain and learning health and behavior," McCain
told the audience.

McCain stressed that poverty is an important national issue, but if
society wants to truly provide a better environment for our children,
people must realize that wealth does not equal health.

"What matters most in how children turn out is parenting. The evidence
is overwhelming that good parenting skills, the quality of family
function and quality of the community in which they live, has the greatest impact on
the optimal development of children."

McCain said society must see early child care as tier one in human
development, not a baby-sitting service for working parents. She
proposed an integrated early child development system linked to the school system would include child care and education and much more.

-reprinted from the Bugle-Observer