The Kid Kit helps Edmonton families build stronger bonds - United Way Alberta Capital Region

The Kid Kit helps Edmonton families build stronger bonds

November 20, 2020

a dad smiles reading to a baby

November 20th is National Child Day. Many children in Alberta do not have the basics, such as affordable housing or quality childcare. When children and families live in poverty, they’re stressed and it’s harder for them to make strong connections with each other, which also sets back brain development and school readiness in young children.

As a community, we can have a direct, positive impact on the lives of children.

United Way of the Alberta Capital Region is dedicated to ensuring the success of youth, and The Kid Kit® is one of the many ways United Way is supporting parents and children learn the tools they need to be happy, healthy, and confident.

Through play, The Kid Kit supports the development of social skills, communication skills, motor skills, pre-literacy and general knowledge, and emotional regulation.

Not only does United Way help fund The Kid Kit, we also create the kits with our volunteers during Days of Caring. The Kid Kit initiative is supported by an endowment fund by Leon and Vonnie Zupan, who also sit on The Kid Kit evaluation committee.

Since March 2019, there have been 2,984 Kid Kits distributed to agencies. Caregivers say they know more about child development, and most of them use The Kid Kit at least once a week. Practitioners saw the impact the kits had on families.

“I have observed the child speak a lot more lately, whereas he almost always communicated non-verbally in the past,” described one staff member who uses The Kid Kit in their one-on-one work with family.

“His mom recognized that spending more time together and speaking to him more has helped him gain vocabulary. Feeling empowered to support his development will make a huge difference in each of his milestones and learnings moving forward.”

An assembled Kid Kit, appropriate for age 12 months
Kits are developed for a specific age range. The Kid Kit contains activity cards describing “how” to play and “why” a particular activity is necessary for development. Also included in the kit are all the toys, books, and craft supplies needed to complete the activities.

The Kid Kit is free, distributed through agencies and organizations that support young families. Staff work with families one-on-one to distribute the kits and follow up to support the families if they need more help incorporating The Kid Kit in their day.

Children aren’t the only ones who develop and grow their skills by using The Kid Kit. Parents also grow and develop their parenting skills, feeling less frustrated, more patient, and are more likely to enjoy playing with their child.

“The Kid Kit became a tool for a parent who did not have custody of their child to start taking ownership of their role as a parent. They brought The Kid Kit along while completing supervised visits and used it to connect with their child. They feel like they’re capable of teaching their child, taking responsibility, and understanding that you don’t need expensive toys to play with your child. This is the first step in the journey towards re-unification and repairing the parent child relationship.”

While COVID-19 has changed how many agencies work with families, The Kid Kit continues to be a tool they use to support parents and children. In fact, some noted that the activities are a great resource during the pandemic, as it’s easy to drop off to have parents use while staying home and connect virtually about how to use the kits.

“It has actually provided a great opportunity to introduce kid kits, as many parents have commented on wanting more activities to do with their children. It gives us something productive to speak about each time we connect over phone or video, and to follow-up on,” noted one practitioner.