HELP's Fall Research Expo: Registration Now Open!


We hope you will join us for what we feel is the most important day in HELP’s annual calendar. Since its inception in 2000, HELP has been committed to research that benefits, first and foremost, the youngest children in British Columbia and their families. This year, we will present new research findings that have furthered our understanding of factors that can support and enhance the well-being of children in BC: from policy environments, to communities, to families. This full day event will include several keynote presentations, and hands-on workshops with researchers.

Download a map of UBC Robson Square and parking locations

Download a copy of the day's program

This full-day event is FREE and open to the public.


8:30am-12:40pm           Keynote Presentations
12:40pm-1:45pm           Lunch Break*
1:45pm-3:00pm             Workshop Session 1
3:30pm-4:45pm             Workshop Session 2
4:45pm-5:15pm             Closing Plenary

*Please note that lunch will NOT be provided. Participants are encouraged to bring lunch or visit a nearby downtown restaurant.

Full Schedule

8:30-9:00 Tribute to Dr. Clyde Hertzman

9:00 - 10:30 Lessons from 12 years of Early Years research – what makes a difference in communities?

               Joanne Schroeder, Jeff Calbick, Helen Davidson, Lynne Reside, David Phillips

The focus on this session will be to highlight the successes that Communities have realized and the lessons they have learned, using EDI data and their partnership with HELP.

10:30-10:50 Break

10:50 – 11:30 The Middle Years Development Instrument – What assets make a difference?

                Kim Schonert-Reichl

The MDI highlights important elements in school and community life that can make a difference in children’s lives.  This session will focus on what we have learned from MDI in terms of these assets.


11:30 – 12:40 International Policy Comparisons – Why Canada lags behind on the world stage.

                   Lynell Anderson

Canada lags behind most other industrial countries on many of the international family policy rankings, including public investments. In most provinces, this reflects the on-going fragmentation of both our systems for and our thinking about families with young children. And yet we know that provincial and federal policy environments have a profound effect on the wellbeing of Canadian families. In this keynote, Lynell Anderson will explore what we can learn from international policy comparisons (with a focus on OECD countries including Norway, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia), about the policy differences that make a difference.  She will highlight key policy changes required to help children and families thrives in Canada.


12:40-1:45           Lunch Break

1:45-3:00              Workshop Session 1

3:30-4:45              Workshop Session 2

*Please note that each workshop will run twice. This will allow participants to attend 2 workshops of their choice.


Workshop topics:

1. Making Sense of Social Epigenetics

     Facilitators: Mike Kobor and Mina Park

Social epigenetics is an emerging field of study that explores the mechanisms by which diverse factors such as family income, parental behaviour, childrearing practices and, environmental toxins exert their effect by altering the expression of our genes. In this session, researchers will discuss basic epigenetic mechanisms and their potential role in determining life-long trajectories of human behavior and health inequities.

While the need to reduce population health inequities is growing, the influence of social epigenetics on public policy and programming remains unexplored. For social epigenetics to play a foundational role in advancing change, communicating this research effectively is critical. The workshop will also focus on the strategies, tools and techniques that could be developed to make this type of research relevant in a program and policy context. What role can HELP play to increase the practical impact of social epigenetics research?

2. From Cradle to Career: Using Population Data to Understand Children’s Trajectories

     Facilitators: Jennifer Lloyd, Alisa Almas and Jacqui Boonstra

The EDI provides a snapshot of how are children are doing in kindergarten, but when we link it with other population data, it also provides an anchor point for understanding the patterns of children’s development over time.  This workshop will give an overview of the data linkage work that is increasingly emerging as a focal point for HELP’s research.  Content will include: an inventory of HELP’s data holdings; plans for linking EDI to early health data; understanding educational trajectories and linking EDI to MDI.  This session is for those who want to increase their knowledge about the process and the power of studying developmental trajectories.

3. Cultural Identity as a Critical Component in Aboriginal Child Development

     Facilitators: Elsie Kipp and Gillian Corless 

 Human development research teaches us that the environments and experiences in early childhood have lifelong impacts on our social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being. An important aspect of early development is a child’s sense of identity, a feeling of belonging to a family and community. This is constructed through a child’s cultural experiences, something that Aboriginal people have consistently valued throughout history.

HELP understands the significance of cultural identity to the developing child and acknowledges this critically important relationship within the context of Aboriginal communities. But what tools can we use to measure a child’s “Sense of Identity”?

4. Supporting Children with Special Healthcare Needs: Making connections between support systems and children’s development and wellbeing

     Facilitator: Brenda Poon 

Research supports the view that early identification and intervention services have a positive influence on developmental outcomes for children with special healthcare needs. In this session, we will discuss systems of coordinated service delivery and supports, from the time of initial assessment and diagnosis, to the family’s transition to early intervention programs, to the child’s transition to school, and through later years.

Part of the session will focus specifically on the systems and supports that are currently in place for young children in BC who are deaf or hard of hearing. We would also like to hear from you: What future directions should be taken in investigating the population level supports that influence the well-being of children in BC with special health or developmental concerns?

5. The Middle Years Development Instrument – Moving from results to action

     Facilitator: Kim Thomson and Maddie Spenrath

The Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) is a survey that asks children (in Grade 4 and 7) to report on critical components of development that are strongly linked to their academic achievement, health and well-being throughout the school years and their success in later life. This workshop will give a brief overview of this survey tool. It will also focus on ways that schools, communities and governments can use MDI results to create lasting changes that will help children to thrive at home, in their neighbourhoods and at school.

6. My Neighbourhood My Future

Facilitators: Joanne Schroeder, Jeff Calbick and Scott Graham

Panel: Susan Foster and Susan Papdionissou

Beginning in 2012, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, in partnership with HELP and the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C., has been focusing a portion of its investments in early childhood on a geographically place-based approach to individual level change.  The intent is for local communities to develop a strategic approach to place-based community engagement and service delivery for young children (0-6) and their families.

Two sites, one in the Tri-Cities and one in Surrey, have been selected and are beginning to implement the initiative.  This workshop will share initial strategies and intended outcomes for this exciting new initiative.

4:45-5:15   Closing Plenary

 For questions regarding this event, please contact HELP's Knowledge Translation Coordinator, Jennifer Fox, at 604-822-0559 or