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September 5, 2003
Media Advisory: Toronto First Duty a focus of national symposium on early learning and child care
Policy makers from across Canada will get a look at a unique, new delivery
system for early learning and child care - Toronto First Duty - on September 10
at a national symposium, Closing the Divide: A Policy Blueprint for Early
Learning and Child Care. Funded by Human Resources Development Canada, the
symposium will address the opportunities and challenges in closing the gap
between child care and other early child development policies and programs.

Toronto First Duty brings together kindergarten, child care and parenting
supports into a single service. The integrated delivery system provides a
learning program for young children, and promotes parents' active involvement
in their children's development while enabling them to pursue work or job
training. The three-year project involving 1,200 children at five sites in
Toronto District School Board schools, demonstrates that families are better
served and public funds are used more cost-effectively by combining education,
child care and other community supports.

Toronto First Duty is a partnership of the City of Toronto and the Toronto
District School Board, and supported by the Atkinson Charitable Foundation and
the Canadian Auto Workers Child Care Fund. At one site, 40 families are
receiving full-day early learning and care, and family supports for one-fifth
the cost of a traditional child care program. The service is available to all
families regardless of income or parent workforce participation.

"Toronto First Duty demonstrates that by reorganizing existing services, a
minor investment can bring about major changes for more families," said Toronto
Children's Advocate Councillor Olivia Chow.

Researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education are evaluating
the initiative. "We are rigorously monitoring the new delivery system and its
impact on parents, children and the communities they live in," said Dr. Dan
Keating, Atkinson Charitable Foundation Chair in Early Child Development and
Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) of the
University of Toronto.

Dr. Keating will be joined at the forum by policymakers and influencers from
across Canada including Dr. Clyde Hertzman, University of British Columbia and
provincial and federal representatives. The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain
and Dr. Fraser Mustard, authors of the province's Early Years Study will open
the Closing the Divide symposium.

Tuesday, September 9 (official opening at 7 p.m. Room 310)
Wednesday, September 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Council Chambers)

Location: Metro Hall, 55 John St.

Media contacts:
Pamela Musson,
City of Toronto, Project Manager,

Kerry McCuaig,
TFD Communications,



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