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Dr. Charlotte Waddell on Child Health Policy


November 17, 2017
Charlotte Waddell child health policy

L to R. Ellen Lipman, director of Offord Centre for Child Studies; Charlotte Waddell, director, SFU Children’s Health Policy Centre; and Nick Kates, chair, psychiatry dept., McMaster.

Simon Fraser University professor and director of the Children’s Health Policy Centre there, Dr. Charlotte Waddell was the speaker at the annual Fraser Mustard/Dan Offord Lectureship hosted by the Offord Centre for Child Studies on Nov. 15, 2017. She spoke on Children’s Mental Health Policy – for the One and the Many, with a wide overview of the status of the subject in Canada curently, and calling out specific programs that are working to improve children and youth mental health.

Dr. Waddell called out the Offord Centre for Child Studies as a place where rigorous, relevant science is being practiced, specifically in the areas of:

Learning from Parents of Kids with Autism

Dr. Waddell talked about how all advocates for improvements for children and youth mental health services could do well to learn from the example of the parents of children with autism. Quoting policymaker participant, Shepherd (2015), “the autism parents talk about the research. The mental health parents don’t. They just talk about getting help. With autism, it’s not just an advocacy that says ‘give me more.’ It’s an advocacy that says, ‘here’s what works and can we get more of those?”

Around Dr. Waddell (centre) are Offord Centre researchers (L to R) Steve Gentles; Eric Duku; Vivian Lee; Anna Kata; Stelios Georgiades; and Mike Chalupka

While at the Offord Centre for Child Studies, Dr. Waddell also met with autism researchers at the Offord Centre for Child Studies, led by Dr. Stelios Georgiades, with his MacART team and Pathways to ASD study team.

Learning from the Nurse-Family Partnership program

She also discussed the lessons learned from early days of the Nurse-Family Partnership Canada program – intensive home visits by nurses with young, first-time moms, which started with BC Healthy Connections. Dr. Waddell cited disturbing statistics around the plight of these young women in BC, such as living with homelessness, substance abuse, and coming from backgrounds of child maltreatment. She pointed out that for the Nurse-Family Partnership program in the U.S., significant benefits over 10 to 20 years have resulted from randomized control trial such as reduced child maltreatment and reduced child behaviour problems including youth crime, child and maternal mortality, as well as improved parenting, child cognitive development, child mental health, and maternal life circumstances.

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