Plenary Sessions


Emeritus Professor Ferran Casas

Research Institute on Quality of Life

University of Girona


“Asking children about their subjective well-being: a cross-cultural perspective”

In recent history, researchers have started to ask large samples of children about their experiences of the services they receive and the society they live in—just as we do with adults. After several years of surveying children in different countries, the Children’s Worlds project has developed several research innovations. We have considered children as key informants and as experts in their own lives. By refining our instruments, we  have been able to more precisely analyse majoritarian trends… yet most trends do not seem to be universal: there is always some exception. This presentation will illustrate cross-cultural variations in children’s subjective wellbeing with special attention to bullying. Whereas bullying seriously affects subjective well-being of children in most countries, it is also affected by freedom of choice – particularly during out-of-school time, self-concept, perceptions of safety, and how children feel they are taken into account by adults.

 Professor Claudia Coulton

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

Case Western Reserve University


“The promise of information technology in developing actionable indicators related to child poverty”

Rapid advances in information technology have the potential to greatly enhance the scope and impact of indicators related to child poverty. Technology can improve data collection and lower cost, allow the conversion of available data into metrics on children in poverty, mine unstructured data for deeper meaning about children’s experiences, capture trends in near real time, and deliver indicators in novel formats that can aid decision making. This presentation will identify promising approaches in the application of technology, identify some barriers to technology use in addressing the problems faced by children in poverty, and point to some steps that can be taken to increase the impact of child indicators through technological innovations.

Professor Nico Trocmé

McGill University

School of Social Work


“Between Scylla and Charybdis:  Navigating the stormy seas of proxy indicators morphing into performance measures”

Child indicator researchers are applied health and social scientists who believe that policies and programs for children and youth can be improved through better data.  While we understand that most of the indicators that we are able to use are mere proxies for complex and multi-variate concepts, we share an understanding of the potential benefits of using such data in a cautious fashion that move incrementally towards developing an evidence base to inform policy and planning.  Yet, as we attempt to carefully navigate the interpretation and limitations of these indicators, we all too often experience the rapid reification of proxies transformed into performance measures that drive programs and services in unintended directions.  Building on our experiences with child welfare indicators across Canada, and international examples, this presentation examines the opportunities and dilemmas of developing child indicators to inform policies and programs.

Professor Nancy Young

School of Rural and Northern Health

Laurentian University




Mary Jo Wabano

Naandwechige Gamig Wikwemikong Health Centre

Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory



“Putting the Child first in child health indicators — lessons from Anishinabe children”

Indicators are critical to how we understand child health. Often they are designed from the dominant world view and the perspective of adults. We will discuss the impact of unique lenses in the assessment of vulnerable children. The primary example will be from a collaborative journey to include Aboriginal children’s voices in local indicators. We discovered strength in the wisdom of children a focus on wellness. We faced a key challenge –an opportunity for disclosure. What are the ethical responsibilities associated with indicators data? When calculated from administrative data our ethical responsibilities are less apparent. Not knowing does not mean not responsible. The Anishinaabe teachings show a way forward that respects and reflects diverse perspectives, promotes cultural relevance, through a “holistic” approach.