Emotional maturity and social competence are two of the areas tracked in the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a tool that tracks children’s development. EDI results also show vulnerabilities. United Way’s Avenues of Change initiative is targetted at neighbourhoods where children are shown to have higher vulnerabilities based on EDI results. United Way also invests in after-school programs targetted at children age 6 to 12 that keep them safe, help them feel they belong, find great role models, and grow their confidence so that they reach their full potential. The new study looked at results from more than 97,000 students from kindergarten to middle school in the U.S., Europe and the U.K. The researchers found that social-emotional learning continued to have positive effects in the classroom but was also connected to longer-term positive outcomes. Students who participated in programs graduated from college at a rate 11 per cent higher than peers who did not. Their high school graduation rate was six per cent higher. Drug use and behaviour problems were six per cent lower for program participants, arrest rates 19 per cent lower, and diagnoses of mental health disorders 13.5 per cent lower. Oberle and her colleagues also found that all children benefitted from the programs regardless of race, socioeconomic background or school location. “Teaching social-emotional learning in schools is a way to support individual children in their pathways to success, and it’s also a way to promote better public health outcomes later in life,” said Oberle in the UBC story. The study was published last week in Child Development.