In the coming months the City of Kawartha Lakes is planning to expand the programs and services it offers through the EarlyON Child and Family Centre.
City of Kawartha Lakes’ manager of social services Janine Mitchell expects these changes to allow more children and families from smaller neighbouring communities to benefit from their services. Locally families can currently access EarlyON’s services by attending programs that currently operate in Minden at Archie Stouffer Elementary School in Haliburton at JD Hodgson Elementary School and in Wilberforce at the Lloyd Watson Community Centre. Mitchell said the free drop-in programs they offer are important to the community because they connect children and families with trained and educated EarlyON facilitators. They also bring together families who are facing similar opportunities and challenges on a daily basis she explained.
“There are 500 children between the ages of zero and four in Haliburton County” Mitchell said.
“By increasing access to services offered through the EarlyON Child and Family Centre we are trying to reach as many of these children and their parents and caregivers with programs in their community.”
At the beginning of 2018 EarlyON received a boost in funding through the Ministry of Education which will allow for the expansion of child and family programs. Mitchell said the City of Kawartha Lakes children’s services staff and the EarlyON Child and Family Centre staff have been working together with the shared goal of increasing access to services provided by the EarlyON Child and Family Centre for all families with a particular focus on smaller communities in Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. She said the expansion of EarlyON’s programs will benefit the community by giving more children the opportunity to experience positive developmental health and well-being through play and inquiry-based learning opportunities.
“Children’s ability to learn when they enter school is strongly influenced by the brain development shaped by experiences that take place in the early years” Mitchell said.
“EarlyON services are designed to support parents and caregivers in their role as their children’s first teachers enhance their well-being and enrich their knowledge about early learning and development.”
EarlyON has established five goals designed to help them reach their primary objective of increasing access to their services. These goals include increasing summer programming; offering more programs on Saturdays; expanding weekly programs to more communities; enhancing drop-in programs; and adding more hours of service. Despite the relatively high level of need for these programs and services throughout the county Mitchell said that there are still people who are unaware of what EarlyON has to offer. She said one way the community can help EarlyON connect with families who could benefit from their services is by helping them spread the word. Volunteers and donations are also good ways to support EarlyON Mitchell said.
To donate volunteer or find out more about the services provided through the EarlyON Child and Family Centre contact their head office at 705-324-7900.