Researchers at Conestoga have been named as first-round recipients of funding through the Community and College Social Innovation Fund pilot program from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Ideas Connect, a project conducted by Conestoga in partnership with the Region of Waterloo Children’s Services Division, will receive $200,000 over the next three years for research related to early learning and child care.
“We appreciate the support provided by SSHRC, the Government of Canada and the Region of Waterloo for this important research,” said Conestoga President John Tibbits. “Ideas Connect will engage Conestoga students and faculty in the development of innovative solutions for the early learning and child care sector across our community. Students will also benefit as they gain real-world experience and have opportunities to contribute new processes and resources that address the sector’s changing needs.”
Led by Dr. Goranka Vukelich, Chair of Community Services in Conestoga’s School of Health & Life Sciences and Community Services, the project will develop new solutions to support knowledge mobilization and community decision-making by connecting the research and work needs of the early learning and child care sector with the talents and capabilities of college faculty and students.
“The early learning and child care sector is currently undergoing a massive transformation, both provincially and locally,” Vukelich said. “The Ideas Connect network will provide a model to support that transformation through collaboration, active learning and the engagement of community members in the co- creation of new solutions for a quality, sustainable system.”
The Region of Waterloo, Children’s Services Division is the designated Consolidated Municipal Service Manager (CMSM). As a CMSM, Children’s Services has the responsibility for service and system management for licensed early learning and child care services for children from birth to 12 years of age. This is done through partnerships and community engagement. One example is the partnership established with Conestoga for the creation and ongoing support of the Early Childhood Professional Resource Centre at the Doon campus. The Resource Centre provides professional development and networking opportunities as well as materials and resources for early learning and child care professionals.
“We are excited to partner with Conestoga College in this new project,” said Nancy Dickieson, Director of Children’s Services. “The Ideas Connect network will provide many opportunities to develop meaningful collaboration and engagement as our early learning and child care system evolves and transforms.”
The Community and College Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) is designed to connect the talent, facilities and capabilities of Canada’s colleges and polytechnics with the research needs of local community organizations to foster social innovation in areas such as education, integration of vulnerable populations, and community development. Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan announced funding for 27 research projects through the CCSIF program at an event in Toronto on January 21.
Applied research at Conestoga supports innovation in education and workforce development and provides solutions to real-world industry challenges, supporting local industries in their efforts to enhance their productivity and competitiveness through the development of new and improved technologies, processes, products and services.
For more information, visit www.conestogac.on.ca/research/