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This paper reports on a case study that examines the evolution of public policy in Canada with respect to children’s benefits. The review focuses on the role of Canadian voluntary organizations, particularly the National Children’s Alliance and Campaign 2000. It is part of a series of studies in Canada and Southeast Asia. These were sponsored by the Institute On Governance, Ottawa, and funded by CIDA under the Canadian government’s Voluntary Sector Initiative, Sectoral Involvement in Development of Public Policy.

The central focus of this study examines the influence of two national nonprofit networks on the development of the National Child Benefit, the National Children’s Agenda and the Early Childhood Development Initiative. It also offers an analysis of the socio-economic and political context in which these policies and programs evolved, the role of other key actors and influences and identifies strategies for influencing public policy. The analysis is lodged within a framework developed by John Kingdon (1995) in Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies.

The study consisted of more than thirty interviews with key informants from nonprofit organizations, federal and provincial government departments and parliamentarians along with a review of key documents related to the organizations and policy issues at hand. The author of this study was a member of Campaign 2000 and the National Children’s Alliance from their inception until 1998.

(Note: A condensed version of this is available in print from the Institute On Governance or at www.iog.ca under the title “Strengthening Social Policy: Lessons on forging government-civil society policy partnerships.)

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