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May 18, 2006
Network partners sign on for the children of Toronto
At a ceremony today, provincial and municipal governments, school boards, and a variety of other community partners signed on for the children of Toronto by endorsing “The Best Start Plan: Toronto Vision for Children.”

Toronto’s Best Start Plan is a 10-year strategy for meeting the early learning and care needs of the city’s young children. It starts to bring together services from the existing patchwork, into a system that really works for Toronto’s families. The plan builds on the Ontario government’s Best Start vision to ensure children arrive ready to learn on their first day at school in Grade 1.

“I commend the members of Toronto’s Best Start Network for not only developing a plan to deliver effective and co-ordinated programs for the city’s children and their families, but also for bringing it to life,” said Mary Anne Chambers, Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services. “By working together, we can develop and implement plans that achieve the Best Start vision in ways that make sense to the local community and help set our children on a path to success and achieve their fullest potential.”

The vision builds on existing services, including child care, family support programs, schools and other supports for families and children. Currently, families have to go to a range of different locations to get programs for children of differing ages. The vision will ensure that services are accessible close to the homes of the families who need them.

The Best Start Network is responsible for setting this vision, and taking a series of collective steps to make the vision a reality for families across Toronto. Network members include governments, school boards and community organizations across Toronto. Each partner plays a leading role in making decisions that affect Toronto’s children, and all are committed to combining their extensive expertise to ensure families have the supports they need to ensure every child has the best start possible.

“Integrating services is not a new idea,” said Councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31 Beaches-East York), Council Lead for Children. “Many of the partners you see here today have been working towards this model for many years. But this is the first time that governments, school boards and community services have signed on, in a formal way, to work together with a shared vision that puts the children of Toronto first.”

“The Best Start program fits perfectly with our Board’s plan to open a child care centre in all of our 40 elementary schools. Child care greatly helps in ensuring our youngest students speak French when they enter kindergarten and is essential for the growth of our school board,” said Dorothée Petit-Pas, Chair of the Conseil scolaire de district catholic Centre-Sud. This school board, which serves more than 12,000 students, is one of four school board partners in the Network.

Media contacts:

James Ip
Minister’s Office
Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services

Lori Abbott
Communications Officer
Toronto District School Board

Councillor Janet Davis (Ward 31 Beaches-East York)
Council Lead for Children
416-527-3514 (cell)

Marc Pichette
Agent de communications
Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud
416-397-6564 poste 3130

Brenda Patterson
General Manager
Toronto Children’s Services



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