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Creating a World-Class Environment for Early Childhood Development

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June 15, 2012

Surrey – The City of Surrey has the opportunity to be a model community for providing world-class services for the city’s youngest children, according to a new report produced by IBM, as part of the Smarter Cities Challenge.

Over the past three weeks, a team of seven IBM senior leaders from around the globe has engaged over 60 community stakeholders and service providers in Surrey. The team has developed a number of recommendations on how the city can improve early childhood development (ECD) programs, services and outcomes for children 0-5 years of age.

“As part of Surrey’s Child and Youth Friendly City Strategy, we are continually examining ways to promote the healthy development of our children to ensure they have the best start in life,” says Mayor Dianne Watts. “This unique partnership with IBM will allow the City and our many partners to build on the strong foundation we have created, and make more effective, efficient and coordinated investments.” She adds the project is very important for the City of Surrey because it is one of the youngest cities in Canada, with one-third of the population under the age of 19, and over 70,000 students.

The team focused on how to create sustained improvements around child care, health and nutrition, safety, community and culture, socialization, and physical activity. They assessed current initiatives and found that although there are many services available, challenges exist around overlapping of services, awareness, rapid population growth, complexity, dispersed data, cultural diversity, and budget constraints.

The researchers developed detailed recommendations for the near, medium and long term on how to improve services and outcomes. The recommendations for short-term actions include:

• Establish ECD Leadership Task Force
• Evolve towards an ECD Centre of Excellence
• Commit to a Data Sharing Strategy
• Create Analytics Team
• Maximize Shared Facilities & Volunteer Community
• Intensify Social Media Outreach

“Understanding and investing in early childhood development is a pressing issue across North America and around the globe. The positive long-term impacts of up-front investments are well documented, however this issue has yet to be fully addressed by any jurisdiction. Building on substantial existing investments, Surrey has the opportunity to be a model for implementing an integrated, data-driven approach to supporting early childhood development,” says Stan Litow, IBM Vice President, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and President, IBM International Foundation

The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year competitive grant program in which IBM is awarding a total of $50 million worth of technology and services to 100 municipalities worldwide through 2013. The City of Surrey is the only B.C. community to win the $400,000 grant, and one of only two Canadian cities to participate in the program this year.

For more information, please visit www.surrey.ca/smartercities.

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Media Contact:

Tara Foslien
Senior Communications Specialist
Office of the Mayor
604.375.4584

Joanne Fortin
IBM External Communications
1.514.964.8558 or 1.514.642.9820
1.514.238.2995 (cell)
fortin@ca.ibm.com

Ari Fishkind
IBM Media Relations
1.914.499.6420
fishkind@us.ibm.com