Policy Development

Supporting evidence informed policy development is fundamental to CUP's mission. Many of our previous projects influenced the development of public and organizational policy, but that influence was often not the main goal of those projects. Therefore, to better accomplish our mission, we have developed several community-engaged projects with the explicit goal of providing our partners with policy-relevant research, analysis, and resources.

Active Projects

Edmonton Council for Early Learning and Care

The Edmonton Council for Early Learning and Care (ECELC) was created by EPE to work on designing and supporting a system of integrated early learning and care in Edmonton. The Council is composed of institutional liaisons and community partners. Over the past 3 years CUP staff, as ECELC partners, have supported ECELC by researching the status and trends of early learning and care in Edmonton for improving public policy in the sector. In the past year, the partnership has extended to creating knowledge mobilization products for policy makers, the early learning and care community, politicians and the general public.

Read more about the ECELC.

ECELC Documents Co-Created with CUP

Documents start with the most recent in two categories – one-pagers and (longer) publications. 


What is affordable early learning and care? 


What is high-quality child care? 



Exploring Licensed Early Learning and Child Care in Edmonton Day Homes: Interviews with Family Day Home Agencies


Exploring Licensed Early Learning and Child Care in Edmonton Day Homes (Summary brief)


Still Unaffordable for Low-Income Families? A Discussion Paper Summary


Still Unaffordable for Low-Income Families? In Alberta’s new child care system, out-of-pocket fee reductions are smaller for lower-income families


How Municipalities Support, Promote, and Ensure Early Learning and Care


Why and How Cities Matter to ELC


Two Ways to Help - How the Liberal and Conservative Early Learning and Child Care Plans Would Affect a Calgary Family


Recommended Actions for Alberta Children’s Services in Support of Early Learning and Care


Still More Work to be Done: A Brief Analysis of the 2021 Changes to Alberta’s Child Care Subsidies


Recommended Actions for the City of Edmonton in Support of Early Learning and Care: Rationale


Recommended Actions for City of Edmonton


Rising Early Learning and Care Fees in Calgary


Rising Early Learning and Care Fees in Edmonton


SUMMARY of More Work to Be Done: An Analysis of Child Care Subsidies in Alberta


More Work to Be Done: An Analysis of Child Care Subsidies in Alberta


Early Learning and Care Must be a Cornerstone of Edmonton’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan


Affordability in Approved Family Day Homes: Questions and Options


Approved Day Home Monitoring and Ratios: Questions and Options


Family Day Home and Agency Funding and Support: Questions and Options


Reopening Early Learning and Care in Alberta: Key Questions and Options


A Profile of Edmonton Child Care in 2019


Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta

The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta (AECEA) is a province-wide nonprofit organization devoted to improving the situation of early childhood educators in Alberta. CUP and AECEA have collaborated on a number of research and analysis projects in recent years focused on contributing to AECEA’s mission, including surveys of early childhood educators, surveys of early learning and care programs during COVID, and literature reviews to inform and support AECEA’s public policy positions. Present collaborations between AECEA and CUP are ongoing, with a specific focus on the best ways to implement the new federal-provincial child care agreement signed in November 2021.

Read more about AECEA.

Here is some work that has come out of the partnership:

2018-2019 AECEA Survey of the Alberta Early Childhood Education Workforce

Results from a survey of Alberta early learning and child care programs during the 4th wave of COVID-19

One-Pager summarizing survey results from the 4th wave

Policy Library

CUP developed a Policy Library for both internal and external capacity building support in 2020. The aim is to bolster understanding of policy and to offer practical tips and documents to support researchers, students, researchers and non-profit agencies. The library is set up to walk someone through the stages of policy development, offering its audience to choose resources based on immediate need.

Find the policy library.

Completed Projects

Grocery Run

Another poverty-related project that has policy related impact is the Grocery Run. The Grocery Run started as an emergency response to the food insecurity facing local migrant communities. Beyond providing emergency food, there is recognition that food insecurity is a symptom of a much larger structural issue and have made efforts to address the underlying issues of poverty through partnerships that influence systems change. Partnerships include poverty initiatives such as EndPovertyEdmonton, ethnocultural communities; food security initiatives like Leftovers and Fresh Routes; organizations facilitating community responses to food insecurity like Edmonton Community Development Company and C5, and other organizations that support brokering and advocating for policy changes. In partnership, the Grocery Run works to use food as an anchor for social and economic wellbeing.

Read more about the Grocery Run.

Please note the Grocery Run is still an active project, but the relationship with CUP has shifted to a peripheral partner.

Evidence for a Better System

Using rich case worker notes that were collected while caseworkers worked with Families First Edmonton (FFE) families, CUP researchers developed a suite of family stories that help illustrate the range of experiences of low-income families. These stories helped ground the work of the Mayor's Task Force to Eliminate Poverty. These stories are woven throughout the strategic plan that is being presented to Edmonton City Council as End Poverty Edmonton. The stories of real people illuminate how the recommendations have the potential to improve the quality of life and financial well-being of low-income families living in Edmonton.

Read evidence for better systems.

Intimate Partner Violence

Domestic violence continues to be a troubling social problem that disproportionately impacts women and their children across space, race, age, culture and economic class. It is complicated and a multi-faceted issue. In order to begin to unpack and address these complicated social processes to improve the quality of life for low-income women and children experiencing domestic violence in Edmonton, information around the nuances of the experiences of these families is crucial, but also limited. This project aims to address the gap in knowledge by drawing upon a rich source of data. Findings from this project will be available to better enable evidence-based policy and practice decisions around the issue of domestic violence for low-income families in Edmonton.

Read intimate partner violence.

Early Child Development Mapping (ECMap) Project

The Early Child Development Mapping Project (ECMap) is a five-year (2009-2015) initiative funded by Alberta Education, that aims to strengthen Alberta's ability to make positive early childhood development a reality for every child in the province. The project helps communities better understand how young children are doing and work together to support their healthy development.

During the course of the project, ECMap analyzed Early Development Instrument (EDI) data on more than 70,200 kindergarten-aged children, creating the first baseline early development results for Alberta. ECMap community development coordinators mobilized community coalitions across the province to work with the data and support positive outcomes. One hundred coalitions are now active throughout Alberta, raising public awareness about the importance of the early years and making a positive, informed contribution to discussions of how policies, programs and other supports can be improved to promote the well-being of young children and families. Several Research reports were produced during this research project.

Read those reports.

Families First Edmonton (FFE)

Optimizing healthy child development is an enduring and critically important goal of Canadian society. Rapid changes in health care, cultural diversity, the economy, education, public administration, and health and social policy are critical influences on the Canadian family, the main environment for children. A guiding assumption in this research project is that what happens in families, in communities and the systems' level cannot be detached from healthy childhood development. The challenge is to join research, practice, and policy efforts in the development of new knowledge about healthy child and family outcomes, and to use the knowledge to improve practices and policies. Families First Edmonton (FFE) is focused on child development trajectories within the context of the mediating and moderating processes operating in low-income families. FFE was designed to (a) advance fundamental knowledge about interventions likely to improve health outcomes for children, parents, and families with low incomes; (b) optimize cost-effectiveness for public systems; (c) build on previous research and on local community-based initiatives; (d) provide evidence for health and social policy decision-making; and (e) promote knowledge transfer.

Findings from this project will provide management and policymakers with detailed descriptions of the skills, processes, technology, and structures necessary for collaboration, especially around delivery of service to low-income families. 

Read Families First Edmonton

Putting Research to Work: Understanding and improving knowledge translation in population health

Promoting positive health outcomes for low-income families is a critical challenge for communities and governments across the country. The project will assist partner organizations in working through the knowledge application process, from identifying their problem to applying the knowledge within and across their sectors.

Read Putting Research to Work: Understanding and Improving Knowledge Translation in Population Health

Conducting CBR with Vulnerable Populations

The purpose of this research is to develop a project that documents the "how" of the CBR process when working with vulnerable populations. This project will focus on the needs of vulnerable populations and the considerations and best practices that should be undertaken to create collaborative, respectful, and positive environments in which to conduct research. Considerations across all stages of the research process will be examined (planning, recruitment, data collection and analysis, results, knowledge mobilization, after care).

Read Conducting CBR with Vulnerable Populations: an examination of considerations, challenges, and best practices

A School-Based Services Approach for Wrapping Services Around Vulnerable Children

The Wraparound Research Project was initiated, in part, to provide current data (as no data exist) on the use of wraparound approaches in Alberta schools. Alberta Education was interested in identifying the key principles of wraparound being implemented within provincial schools, and in utilizing these data to develop support resources for school authorities.

Read A School-Based Services Approach for Wrapping Services Around Vulnerable Children

Photovoice - Documenting the Experiences of Low-Income Families

Families First Edmonton (FFE) researchers worked with ten women from families participating in the comprehensive group on a photovoice project. Photovoice is a qualitative, community-based research method in which the experiences of participants are explored through words and photographs produced by them in regard to some aspect of their experience. In this particular instance, participants were asked to articulate, through words and photographs the challenges they have faced as low-income families. A short training film for front-line staff and students in the health and social services fields was produced. This gave peoples voice to their struggles with childcare, housing, and accessing assistance. Participants also described the systemic discrimination they face and the perceptions many people have about families with low incomes.

Read Photovoice - Documenting the Experiences of Low-Income Families

BureaucraZy - Navigating Health and Social Services in Alberta

BureaucraZy is a film documentary profiling four single mothers with low income who volunteered to share their experiences in accessing health and social services in Alberta. It's about parents and children in our community who face real structural and systemic obstacles.

Read BureaucraZy - Low-Income Families' Struggles Accessing Health and Social Services

Increasing Capacity for Research on Indigenous Children and Youth

This project aimed to address how best to support providers of assessment and programming for Indigenous children and youth.

Read Increasing Community Capacity for Research on Indigenous Children and Youth

Choice and Accountability in Canadian Education

What do the words 'choice' and 'accountability' mean when it comes to schooling? How are choices and accountability supported in different provinces and cities across Canada? This research project challenges common assumptions, and recasts many issues in a new light.

Read Choice and Accountability in Canadian Education