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Are experiences for families with young children in BC improving?

HELP Releases CHEQ 2022 COVID-19 Rapid Report

View the Report

The Childhood Experiences Questionnaire (CHEQ) is a questionnaire completed by parents and caregivers at the start of the kindergarten school year. It is an innovative way to learn about and report on children’s experiences in their early environments, focusing on specific areas of development that are strongly linked to children’s health and well-being, education, and social outcomes.  

The information collected is valuable, providing insight into how communities and schools can support children and their families prior to school entry. The CHEQ is also providing meaningful information about the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past three school years, in addition to completing the standard CHEQ questionnaire, families of kindergarten students in participating school districts were asked additional questions about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their experiences.  

The CHEQ 2022 COVID-19 Rapid Report summarizes the data collected from parents and caregivers of BC kindergarten children in both the fall of 2021 and 2022, where respectively the number of parents and caregivers that completed a CHEQ were 5,114 and 4,772.

While the impact of the pandemic continues three years on, there is evidence that some of the challenges experienced by children and families as a result of the pandemic are diminishing over time. For example, 20% of families reported a decrease in income in 2022, which falls below the reported 25% from 2021.  

CHEQ findings also indicated decreases in challenges experienced by parents and caregivers as a result of the pandemic, such as feeling less rested (42% in 2022, 50% in 2021), less connected to family and friends (47% in 2022, 64% in 2021), and having less access to consistent child care (38% in 2022, 41% in 2021). 

Another positive trend of note was a reported increase in physical activity: 66% of parents and caregivers reporting that their child was getting the recommended 60 minutes or more per day of energetic physical activity (compared to 57% in 2021). 

These improvements are not consistent across the board — the percentage of parents and caregivers reporting that they had less access to healthy foods as a result of the pandemic increased from 5% in 2021 to 10% in 2022. Additionally, over one-third of parents and caregivers are still reporting “high” or “very high” levels of stress as a result of the pandemic — 38% in 2022, 42% in 2021. 

While some of the data is trending in a positive direction, these findings highlight the ongoing impact of the pandemic on families with young children, as well as the need for early years supports and services including child care, food security, and opportunities for connection. 

For more information, please view the full CHEQ 2022 COVID-19 Rapid Report here

Save the date! A more detailed look at the 2022 Report as well as CHEQ trends over time will be explored at an upcoming webinar on March 2, 2023 (details coming soon!) — be the first to know by subscribing to our newsletter, HELP Connect. 

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