Early Growth and Development
In May 2018, Alicja Kotarska learned that her local school-based Parenting and Family Literacy Centre was closing, a place she visited often with her children. The Centre had provided a free, drop-in program for children and their parents/caregivers.
Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board discontinued the direct delivery of Parenting and Family Literacy Centres by the end of June 2018, and transitioned the 11 Centres within their schools to the Region of Peel. The Region of Peel’s Early Years and Child Care Services division partnered with EarlyON providers to support the families of these centres, including opening up EarlyON locations where needed (as was the case in Alicja’s community).
The Region oversees the planning, funding and delivery of EarlyON programs in Peel. EarlyONs provide a free, welcoming environment that allows children up to six years of age to learn, play, and make friends, while parents/caregivers obtain advice from trained professionals and connect with other families.
“We understood why our Parenting and Family Literacy Centre was closing, but we were worried about what would happen in September,” says Alicja.
It was such a relief to get the answers and the support we needed from the Region and our new EarlyON provider. We were able to work directly with the staff we needed, even during the summer months.
Alicja is amazed at how much her kids have continued to learn and grow since attending the new EarlyON program in her community. “The kids love it. They have developed so many social skills that they may not have otherwise, because the reality is, some families just cannot afford paid child care. As a result, they would have missed out on this important skill building.”
Magdalena Diaz, Manager at Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood Centre, is an EarlyON provider who worked closely with Regional staff to open up a new EarlyON location in Peel. She says, "The new families that have joined us are happy with our program, which speaks to the resilience and dedication of our teams. We made sure to be ready for the new school year.”
“It was truly a collaborative effort,” says Suzanne Finn, Director of Early Years and Child Care Services at the Region of Peel. “We worked together with councillors and EarlyON providers to ensure that families were supported during this time of transition. In the end, we were able to maintain a program that families loved and relied on and achieved our top goals: to increase access to EarlyON services and ensure the delivery of high-quality programs.”
In 2018, EarlyON programs in Peel served nearly 80,000 children and parents.