COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES:
SOCIAL COHESION AND SOCIAL INCLUSION
This page contains two parts:
Community Development Outcomes
The program evaluation illuminated several crosscutting themes, interrelated program elements and participatory processes in the First Nations Partnership Programs. Pivot constructs emerging from a meta-analysis of participants' accounts of the unusual generativity of these programs were social cohesion and social inclusion. Subsuming several recurrent themes in participants' reports of their program experiences, these superordinate constructs 'work' to describe and explain both the process and the outcomes of the training initiatives.
'Social cohesion' encompasses the many facets of community involvement in administering the training programs, the participation of student in cohorts, and bringing together multiple generations to support the development of the community's children and families. Participants' accounts of community transformations that they attributed to the program referred to the willingness and capacity of individuals to participate with others in ways that build trust and reciprocity, meet their shared needs, mobilize new knowledge and resources in programs of action, build upon organizational strengths, and increase community stability.
We use 'social inclusion' to refer to the links between individuals and groups with others beyond the group, including groups external to the community. The impact of the First Nations Partnership Programs upon social inclusion was vividly illustrated when several program graduates "took up their place at the table" at two province-wide conferences on Early Childhood Education and on Aboriginal Child Care. Graduates spoke out on issues of funding for child care and training, and presented a range of ideas for responding to cultural diversity in child care programs. As an outcome, social inclusion refers to recognition and participation of community members and of university partners in each other's venues and in the society at large.
The First Nations Partnership Programs demonstrate that First Nations people have the public will and the social cohesion to take the driver's seat on this journey. Despite considerable differences among our partners, in terms of their infrastructure, location, economic status, and existing services for children and families, all of the partnership initiatives engendered unprecedented success for students and for the community as a whole. The program evaluation showed what can happen when Early Childhood Education and Youth Care training is envisioned and implemented as a community development tool. Most importantly, the research process has clarified what guides the process - how the pieces fit together to realize community-identified goals and strategies, building upon and expanding social cohesion and social inclusion, which in turn creates developmentally supportive ecologies for children and families.