An analysis of a horizontal public policy approach involving education: a case study of the Healthy Child Manitoba policy strategy

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Auclair, Jean-Vianney
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Governmental institutions are now called to address social problems that have an increased level of complexity. For this reason, innovative collaborative policy approaches are being implemented to find better ways of identifying policy solutions. Insights from the scholarly literature in the field of public administration indicate that horizontal policy approaches involving the participation of multiple policy actors, in the form of networks, represent a promising approach for addressing wicked problems. The Government of Manitoba implemented in year 2000 a horizontal policy strategy, referred to as Healthy Child Manitoba, reflecting the holistic development of children. This cross-departmental policy strategy was designed to address several factors located inside and outside of schools that not only have an influence on the broad development of children but and also on their success in schools. Its main purpose was to improve the well-being of children. This research study concerns itself with the analysis of the Healthy Child Manitoba Policy Strategy from an educational perspective. The central question being examined in this study was to determine how the policy strategy evolved over time as an intersectoral policy strategy and what were its benefits and challenges perceived by key policy actors as it relates to the field of education. The data collection conducted for the study was based on a documentation analysis as well as on semi-structured interviews conducted with elected and non-elected public policy actors as well as with non-public policy actors. The findings of the study indicate that the policy strategy came about as a result of non-partisan actions, activities, and events that included the participation of the education system. With a well delineated government apparatus, the policy strategy provides a number of opportunities, some more effective than others, to influence policy decisions. While the policy strategy may not be fully achieving its ambitions, the findings of this study indicate that Healthy Child is well positioned for improving and extending the effectiveness of the more conventional development and implementation of educational policies led by the Department of Education.
Poverty, Wicked problems, Policy neytworks, Horizontal policymaking