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Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres – A Public Plan

The Ministry of Education has announced its plan to move forward with integrating four child and family programs to create Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres (OEYCFC) across all municipalities in Ontario. The four provincially funded child and family programs to be integrated include:

  • Parenting and Family Literacy Centres
  • Better Beginnings, Better Futures
  • Child Care Resource Centres
  • Ontario Early Years Centres (OEYCs)

Notably, Chatham-Kent currently receives funding for only one of the four programs referred to in the provincial OEYCFC planning guidelines, namely; Ontario Early Years Centres.
OEYCFCs represent the coming together of a variety of high quality child and family programs in accessible locations that are responsive to local need. Although Chatham-Kent already has Best Start Child and Family Centres/Hubs, there is always room for improvement. Transitioning to these new Child and Family Centres will allow the community to realign services in a way that will improve user access, satisfaction and outcomes for children. Funding allocations have not been announced by the Ministry of Education and so many decisions related to local centres will be in limbo until a budget is made available.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is this change happening?
    The provincial government recently announced its plan to move forward with integrating four child and family programs to create Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres (OEYCFC). The Ministry of Education will be working with municipalities, school boards, community partners, parents and caregivers to support the transition towards these centres by January 2018.
  • What child and family programs are impacted?
    In 2018, all Ministry of Education funded child and family programs will become part of an integrated, cohesive system of services and supports for children 0-6 years and their families, known as OEYCFCs. The four child and family programs to be integrated include:

    • Parenting and Family Literacy Centres
    • Better Beginnings, Better Futures
    • Child Care Resource Centres
    • Ontario Early Years Centres (OEYCs)
    • Notably, Chatham-Kent currently receives funding for only one of the four programs referred to in the provincial OEYCFC Planning Guidelines, namely; Ontario Early Years Centres. Because of this, there is some confusion between what differentiates an OEYCFC from an OEYC. The simple answer is that locally, new Child and Family Centres will offer OEYC services and supplemental services, just like Best Start Child and Family Centres/Hubs do now.
  • Who is involved at the local level in planning for this change?
    A key part of the provincial announcement was that Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSMs) will be required to plan and manage the delivery of core OEYCFC services following Provincial Guidelines. This means the municipality must lead the planning process and manage the new system. This is the same model in place for licensed child care and aligns with the vision for Child and Family Centres initially set out in the Pascal report and reiterated in the Ontario Early Years Policy Framework.
  • What are Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres (OEYCFCs)?
    OEYCFCs represent the coming together of a variety of high quality child and family programs in accessible locations that are highly responsive to local need. Although Chatham-Kent already has Best Start Child and Family Centres/Hubs, there is always room for improvement. Transitioning to these new Child and Family Centres will allow the community to realign services to improve user access, satisfaction and outcomes for children.
  • What are the goals of OEYCFCs?
    Provincial Guidelines require that OEYCFC programs and services must be designed and delivered to achieve the following key goals and objectives:

    • Parents and caregivers have access to high quality services that support them in their role as children’s first teachers, enhance their well-being, and enrich their knowledge about early learning and development.
    • Children have access to play and inquiry-based learning opportunities and experience positive developmental health and well-being.
    • Parents and caregivers have opportunities to strengthen their relationships with their children.
    • Francophone children and families have access to French language programs and gain enhanced knowledge about language and identity acquisition.
    • Indigenous children and families have access to culturally responsive programming.
    • Parents and caregivers are provided with timely, relevant and up to date information about community and specialized services.
    • Local service providers collaborate and integrate services to meet community needs in an efficient and accessible way.
  • What is the role of the municipality in creating OEYCFCs?
    Immediate responsibilities of the municipality include ensuring that a preliminary OEYCFC plan is submitted to the Ministry of Education by September 29, 2017. The municipality is working with the Chatham-Kent Children and Youth Planning Network (previously the Best Start Planning Committee) to ensure the development of a plan that truly reflects the needs of all CK families and communities.
  • How are planning decisions being made?
    The Chatham-Kent Children and Youth Planning Network (CYPN) have responsibility for developing the initial plan. The CYPN is the former Best Start Planning Committee and has representation from a wide range of community partners including but not limited to: Municipal Children’s Services, Public Health, Libraries, Recreation, Chatham-Kent Children’s Services, Children’s Treatment Centre, School Boards and Licensed Child Care. The CYPN has established a Working Group to assist specifically with plan development. Both groups have been meeting regularly to meet the deadline for plan submission.
  • What will be in the initial plan?
    The initial OEYCFC plan will include:

    • A needs assessment – providing an overview of community planning and engagement processes, demographic information re the 0-6 population, a list of data sources, and other mechanisms used to assess community needs,
      The initial OEYCFC plan will include:
    • A needs assessment – providing an overview of community planning and engagement processes, demographic information re the 0-6 population, a list of data sources, and other mechanisms used to assess community needs,
    • Preliminary plans for OEYCFC programs and services – including rationale for possible service locations and early insights regarding changes to programs and services to address local needs, and
    • Plans for ongoing community engagement.
    • The initial plan will NOT include:
    • Final decisions on OEYCFC locations,
    • Final decisions on hours of operation and frequency of programming.
    • Preliminary plans for OEYCFC programs and services – including rationale for possible service locations and early insights regarding changes to programs and services to address local needs, and
    • Plans for ongoing community engagement.
    • The initial plan will NOT include:
    • Final decisions on OEYCFC locations,
    • Final decisions on hours of operation and frequency of programming.
  • How will the new system be different than what we have now?
    The redesign of Child and Family Centres presents an opportunity for CK to enhance, relocate and reconfigure programs and services within its boundaries. In some ways, local Best Start Child and Family Centres have achieved many of the goals identified in the new provincial planning guidelines; however, there is always room for improvement. Core services will be designed and delivered in ways that are responsive to diverse populations (e.g., diverse cultures and languages, children of varying abilities, various family structures, and newcomers to Ontario).
  • Will other supplemental services continue to be available in Child and Family Centres?
    Yes. The collective goal of the CYPN is to ensure a suite of high quality, accessible, services remain available to children and families. Agencies providing service in existing Best Start Child and Family Centres/Hubs are represented on the Planning Network to ensure continued collaboration, strengthening of partnerships and continuity of service.
  • How will OEYCFCs be funded?
    Funding allocations have not been announced by the Ministry of Education. The government has indicated its commitment to maintaining its current investment in child and family programs and is developing a new funding approach to redistribute funding to CMSMs/DSSABs by 2018.
  • How many OEYCFCs will there be in Chatham-Kent?
    The simple answer is – we don’t know yet. While the CYPN has collected a lot of data to help with this decision, the province has not yet announced funds to support this initiative. What is known is that the municipality will have the flexibility to offer Child and Family Centre programs and services through a variety of service delivery methods including: physical site centres (similar to Best Start Child and Family Centres/Hubs), mobile services/pop-up programs and virtual hubs.
  • What role do School Boards have in the planning?
    School Boards are key partners in the planning process and are well represented on the CYPN and the Committee established to develop recommendations for their consideration. The Ministry is encouraging the adoption of a schools first policy – locating centres within schools where there is an identified need. Some existing Best Start sites may evolve into OEYCFC sites. In other cases, services may be relocated from existing sites to new locations based on the findings of the needs assessment.
  • What types of services and programs will be offered in OEYCFCs?
    CMSMs are required to manage the delivery of a suite of no fee core services that:
    1. engage parents and caregivers,
    2. support early learning and development, and
    3. make connections to other family services.
    The CYPN is committed to retaining the aspects of current family support programs that are the most meaningful to children and families, including:

      • Providing children with opportunities to learn through exploration, play and inquiry while building healthy relationships that will support them today and throughout their lives,
      • Parent/caregiver engagement through the promotion of responsive adult-child interactions during play-based learning experiences, and
      • Access to a wide range of relevant and timely information and supports for parents and caregivers.
  • How will new OEYCFCs be branded or recognized by families?
    The province is working on launching a common branding strategy and public awareness campaign. This strategy will raise awareness of OEYCFCs and help parents and caregivers to easily recognize and identify new centres and gain access to the latest information on child development.
  • How will parents and children have an opportunity to provide input?
    Families and children play an integral role in planning for new Child and Family Centres. A wide range of engagement activities will help to inform initial and ongoing planning. Some initial consultation has taken place with families and children to better understand why families use existing services and to better understand barriers to accessing these services.
  • How will parents and children have an opportunity to provide input?
    Families and children play an integral role in planning for new Child and Family Centres. A wide range of engagement activities will help to inform initial and ongoing planning. Some initial consultation has taken place with families and children to better understand why families use existing services and to better understand barriers to accessing these services.
    The CYPN will continue to explore various strategies to ensure families, children, early years’ service agencies and their staff have opportunities to inform the design of the system and reflect the specific needs of their community. Opportunities to provide input will be shared as the CYPN moves forward in the planning process.
  • Who will deliver OEYC programs and services in the future?
    In the new system, OEYC programs and services will be delivered by the municipality. A transition team comprised of staff from the municipality and the existing service provider [Chatham-Kent Children’s Services] will develop a plan aimed at minimizing impacts to staff and families and ensuring a smooth transition of responsibilities from CKCS to the municipality. CKCS staff are encouraged to seek additional details pertaining to their individual circumstances and how they might be affected from management.
  • How will service agency staff be impacted?
    This phase of the early years’ system transformation represents a significant change for many service providers and their staff and requires an inclusive and thorough planning process to ensure that staff are well informed and supported throughout the transition. In so doing, it is hoped that they will in turn be able to inform and support families.
  • Will the new system include Early Literacy Specialist supports?
    Yes. The Province has announced that Early Literacy Specialist (ELS) program funding and services will also be transferred to municipal responsibility. ELS funding will be redistributed to the municipality from the province as part of the new funding approach for OEYCFCs in January 2018.
  • Why is the municipality assuming the delivery of OEYC services?
    Provincial Guidelines state that CMSMs have the option to offer OEYC services directly or through a purchase of service agreement. Once OEYC funds transfer from the Ministry of Education to the CMSM in 2018, municipal practice requires a competitive bid approach (Request for Proposal) be undertaken for any purchase of service agreement. A simple continuation of status quo with the current provider was not an option under the new system.
    After a comprehensive review of the OEYCFC Planning Guidelines and community needs assessment, the CYPN recommended that the municipality assume delivery versus pursuing a third party agreement. Municipal delivery of OEYC services was endorsed by Municipal Council on April 3, 2017.
  • Where can I find more information about OEYCFCs?
    Additional information on Ontario’s vision for education and early years can be found on the Ministry of Education website:
    i. Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres: A Public Plan
    ii. Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres: Planning Guidelines for Service System Managers
    iii. How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years
    iv. Think, Feel Act: Lessons from Research about Young Children
    v. The Early Learning Framework
    vi. Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario
    vii. The Ontario Early Years Policy Framework
    viii. Ontario Early Years Plan

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