With this publication, IRPP continues its research program Aboriginal Quality of Life &emdash; a series of studies examining recent innovations in public policies, programs and partnerships involving Aboriginal people.
In this study, Jessica Ball addresses in considerable depth the health, socio-economic and other conditions of Aboriginal children in Canada. Based on an extensive review of the literature, she demonstrates that many Aboriginal children live in poverty and face unacceptably high health and development challenges. Their situation is compounded by other factors, including the impact on parenting abilities of time spent in Aboriginal residential schools. Drawing on research from other countries, Ball reviews the benefits of early childhood programs. In this regard, she focuses on the Aboriginal Head Start programs, which the Canadian federal government began to fund in the mid-1990s. Ball reports some encouraging preliminary findings about the impacts of these programs and recommends that they be expanded to enable access for a minimum of 25 percent of Aboriginal children. She presents several further policy recommendations for measures intended to enhance the life chances of Aboriginal children while protecting their cultural heritage.