Outside Criteria: developing an evaluative tool that describes the developmental attributes of children’s outdoor play spaces at childcare centres in Vancouver Introduction: This paper describes the Phase One of a project that is part of a five-year, interdisciplinary university-community partnership endeavor called CHILD (Consortium for Health, Intervention, Learning and Development) in Vancouver, Canada. The aim of CHILD is to improve evidence-based policy development, encourage more effective advocacy work, and ultimately, better conditions for healthy child development in the Province of British Columbia. The research presented concerns the conditions of outdoor play spaces for children age 2-6 years at childcare centres throughout the city of Vancouver. We ask what are the outdoor physical factors that contribute to early childhood development and quality play in childcare settings in Vancouver, and to what degree do these factors currently exist at these facilities? We also ask what are the developmental potentials and constraints of the outdoors play environments at childcare facilities in Vancouver? Phase One involves the development of an evaluative tool that will allow researchers to describe and rank the physical conditions of twelve sample outdoor childcare centers. The second phase involves mapping and weighting the childcare centers in a GIS system to allow community and advocacy members to “see” the connections between the characteristics of geographic regions and indicators of child health and well-being. The third phase will result in a ‘best practices’ manual to assist multi-stakeholder groups to design and conduct research in community settings. This paper presentation describes Phase One of this research project and the successes and failures of the tool with use over the course of the year, 2003-2004. Reasons for phase one: The development of such an evaluative tool will enable researchers of this project to link physical conditions of outdoor play environments with what we know about the development of young children in order to help determine the quality of that environment. The information gleaned from this Phase one work will provided the basis for the mapping phase and best practices phase of the research. The tool will also allow for comparisons of childcare facilities throughout Vancouver, and if used in other studies, it will allow researchers to compare outdoor play spaces at childcare facilities in other cities. It is anticipated that it will also help childcare centres determine future changes that might optimize the developmental experience of their existing outdoor play spaces. Background: The development of the evaluative tool has involved the compilation of a set of criteria that link physical conditions of the outdoor play space with developmental attributes studied in young children. These developmental attributes are drawn from a review of the relevant literature and experiences of the researchers. It is based on the idea that we know that the (1) physical environment influences children’s development and (2) the outdoor environment offers a unique influence on the development of children. Contact with living organisms and environmental conditions that change with the seasons can enhance physical and cognitive development, encourage imaginative play, stimulate empathy, help with literacy, and could be therapeutic for children. Phase One Procedure: The tool has been used on twelve childcare centers to date. The outdoor play environments were evaluated in a “set-up” state, meaning loose parts and other items are placed in the space by childcare providers, and in a not “set-up ” condition. Videotaping of the children in the play space will allow us to gain further insight on not only how the space is used, but if the evaluative tool was successful in identifying the developmental attributes of the physical environment. Likewise interviews with staff at all childcare centers will help us gain further insight into how the spaces have been used by children, and what attributes of the play spaces are developmentally valuable. Presentation Our presentation will involve a hand-out of the working evaluative tool along with sample plan drawings of the twelve outdoor childcare centres. We will also show video clips of children playing in the spaces studied and points made by staff during their interviews. We hope to gain further insight from the audience as we develop this tool over the duration of the CHILD project, and how it may or may not be useful to others.