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Best Start
September, 2005
Ministry of Children
and Youth Services
Overview of the Best Start Initiative
 Best Start is a comprehensive, evidence-based
early learning and care strategy designed to
help give Ontario’s children the best possible
start in life and help them achieve success in
school.
 Best Start is a major redesign of services in
terms of how children and families are supported
from birth through to Grade 1.
 Planning and implementation will be done in
phases at the local/community level.
1
Impacts for Parents and Children

Best Start is a partnership with parents and families.

Parents will be engaged in their child’s learning and care – which is a
critical factor to children’s success in school and healthy development.

Parents will be included in decision-making and have a say in how and
what is planned for their child.

Services will be brought together in a comprehensive, flexible and
seamless way so children and parents can access them at a familiar
neighbourhood location.

Children will acquire the physical, socio-emotional, language, thinking
and early literacy skills that are required to arrive at school ready and
eager to learn.
2
Rationale for Best Start

The early years have the most influence of any
time in the life cycle on brain development and
subsequent learning, behaviours and health.

Children who are ready to learn when they start
school are more likely to complete school, find
employment and make positive contributions to
society.
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Rationale for Best Start

Society reaps the benefits over many years as
those children develop into healthy, educated,
confident and productive adults.

Investing in children is an investment in
Ontario’s future. Investing in our youngest
children in the first years of their lives leads to
the greatest return on our investment.
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Figure 1:
Rates of Return to Human Capital Investment
(Carneiro & Heckman, 2003)
Preschool Programs
Rate of
Return to
Investment
in Human
Capital
Schooling
Opportunity
Cos t of Funds
Job Training
Preschool
School
Post School
0
Age
5
Best Start is distinct from other
initiatives in that it:
 will help parents and families – regardless of
individual economic or social circumstances
 responds to the clear message from communities that
Ontario needs more integrated accessible services for
young children and families
 strengthens, enhances, builds on and integrates
existing programs and services – rather than creating
new structures or organizations
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 asks all existing organizations that provide services
for children from the prenatal stage through to Grade
1 to share their expertise, and plan together.
 is community driven:
o the types of services and service targets/outcomes
are set by the provincial government, but the
planning for how those services will be delivered
and integrated will be done by the communities.
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Key Features of Best Start

At the community level, key features of Best
Start are childcare expansion and the
establishment of neighbourhood Early Learning
and Care Hubs that provide a range of
integrated services and supports for families with
young children.
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Children’s
Treatment
Children’s Mental
Health
Children’s Treatment
Core Functions
Child
Welfare
Screening & Assessment:
Communication and
Social/Emotional Issues
Public Health
Nutrition Programs
Parenting Programs
Child Care
Pre-School
JK/SK
Preschool speech
and language
Infant Hearing Program
Recreation Programs
Developmental
Services
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Key Strategies of Best Start
1. Establish Best Start Networks responsible for
planning and implementing Best Start in their
communities.
2. Create neighbourhood Early Learning and Care
Hubs that provide integrated services and
supports for families with young children.
3. Support flexible implementation strategies that
make sense for communities.
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4. Give communities tools to support the planning
process.
5. Create an integrated early learning and care
program combing preschool, JK and SK with
high quality childcare during non-school hours.
6. Create more licensed childcare spaces and
assist more families in need with childcare costs.
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7. Improve the quality of regulated and informal
early learning and care programs.
8. Enhance early identification and intervention
programs.
9. Develop and support universal screening of all
children at 18 months.
10. Change policies and practices and remove
barriers.
12
Best Start Planning and Implementation
 Best Start is funded and led by the Ministry of
Children and Youth Services.

Implementation will take 10+ years and will be
accomplished in phases.

Some Phase 1 components are province-wide.
In Phase 1, each City and District will also
establish a Best Start Network to develop Best
Start implementation plans for local
communities.
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How are we going to get there?



Phase 1 (over the next 5 years) has two key components:

A major expansion of child care for children enrolled in Junior and Senior
Kindergarten across the province during the non-school hours

Three demonstration projects that will fast-forward the 10+ year vision.
Other components included in Phase 1:

Panel on Early Learning Program

Panel on Quality and Human Resources

Panel on the 18 month well baby check-up

Enhancements for Healthy Babies, Healthy Children

Restored service levels for Pre-School Speech and Language/Infant Hearing

Establishment of the College of Early Childhood Educators

Immediate flexibility and eligibility requirements for child care fee subsidies. This
includes changes to the eligible hours policy and RRSP/RESP policies

Move to a sliding scale income test to determine eligibility for child care

Measurement for progress and results using the Early Development Instrument
Phase 2 will introduce the 10+ year vision across all communities
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Schools First Policy


The goal of Best Start is to help children enter
school ready to learn. Hence, schools are seen
as the most appropriate sites for child care and
early learning and care hubs and the first choice
for the expansion of child care space as part of
Best Start.
If it is determined that child care spaces are not
to be located in schools, then the community plan
must provide a rationale as to why and describe
how programmatic linkages to an elementary
school or to a family of schools will be
maintained.
15
Northern Regional Vision

In the North Region, MCYS is taking an approach
that will reflect Northern realities and ensure
regional consistency in Best Start
implementation.

For example, it may not be appropriate or
effective to have Early Learning and Care Hubs
located in every school in every community in the
North.
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Role of CMSMs and DSSABs

Expanding and enhancing childcare is the first
critical task of Phase 1 Best Start
implementation.

Regulated childcare services are the
responsibility of Consolidated Municipal
Services Managers (CMSMs) in cities and of
District Social Services Administration Boards
(DSSABs) in rural areas.
17
Role of CMSMs and DSSABs:

Given the emphasis on expanding childcare in
Phase 1 of Best Start, CMSMs and DSSABs are
taking the lead in establishing the Best Start
Networks in their areas.

Boundaries for Best Start Networks are
CMSM/DSSAB boundaries.
18
CMSM/DSSAB catchment areas:

In _______(city/district), the
CMSM/DSSAB catchment area includes:
 List
of communities
19

Map of DSSAB/CMSM boundaries.
20
Best Start Networks

Communities across Ontario, led by CMSMs and
DSSABs, will build Best Start Networks to plan
and implement Best Start at the local level.

Composition of the Networks may vary based on
the distinctiveness of the communities.
Suggested membership includes:
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Composition of Best Start Networks










Parents
Parenting programs
Early identification and intervention programs
District school boards
Health and specialized services
Income and security programs
Population-specific services
Early learning and care programs
Community services
Policymakers
22
Phase 1 Implementation Planning

Phase 1 is crucial in laying the foundation for the
full implementation of Best Start.

It involves three tasks at the community level.
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Task 1: Best Start Networks

Bring together community partners and parents
to establish Best Start Networks.

Define and approve Terms of Reference for the
Networks.
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Task 2: Childcare Expansion

In consultation with Networks, CMSMs/DSSABs
will take the lead in:
 Developing
a transition plan to use existing vacant
childcare spaces, to increase the number of childcare
spaces for families with priority for children in JK/SK
and gradual expansion for children aged 0-4.
 Developing
an infrastructure plan for renovations/new
spaces.
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Task 2: Childcare Service Plan Requirements


Executive Summary
Environmental Scan





Analysis of Gaps/Overloads








Historical Overview of the Local Child Care System
Description of Local Services
Assessment of Local Needs
Three-Year Forecast of Local Child Care Service Needs
Childcare fee subsidies
Wage subsidies
Special Needs resourcing
Resource Centres
Service priorities
Service Management Strategies
Analysis of Financial Impact
Performance Measures/Data Elements
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Task 3: Integrated implementation plans

Describe the community’s needs for early
learning and care services.

Develop a plan to implement early learning and
care hubs.

Develop a plan to implement childcare during
non-school hours for children in JK/JK and for
children 0-4 years for 2006-2007 onwards.
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Task 3: Integrated implementation plans

Develop an integrated plan to enhance key early
identification and intervention programs.

Set out the longer term vision to implement Best
Start.

Identify any challenges and barriers to
implementation and strategies to overcome
them.
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Implementation Planning Timelines

Task 1
Build Best Start Networks
Sept 30/05
 Task 2
Oct 31/05
Transition plan to increase licensed
childcare spaces and subsidies in 2005/2006
with priority for children in JK/SK with gradual
expansion of licensed childcare and subsidies
for children aged 0-4.
 Task 3
Dec 31/05
Develop a Phase 1 Integrated Implementation
Plan.
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