Baird announces Early Years Steering Committee for Thunder Bay

Archived Release

Baird announces Early Years Steering Committee for Thunder Bay

QUEEN'S PARK, ON, July 18 /CNW/ - John Baird, Minister Responsible for Children, today announced the establishment of the Thunder Bay District Early Years Steering Committee. Ontario's Early Years Steering Committees are made up of dedicated citizens, many of whom are community leaders and child development experts. These people will champion local early years and parenting initiatives. The province's 37 Early Years Steering Committees are part of the Harris government's Early Years Plan.
Ontario's Early Years Plan builds on partnerships, programs and services to benefit all young children and their families as the next step in realizing the vision and new way of thinking articulated in the Mustard/McCain Early Years Study.
As announced on May 10, the Harris government will invest $114 million in new funding this year to enhance targeted and universal programs for young children. The funding will also be used to establish Ontario Early Years Centres across the province to support parents in their important role. At these centres, parents will be able to access a range of services and plug into other programs in their communities.
"Our government's commitment to children's early years has never been greater," said Baird. "We understand that by supporting parents and their young children, we are securing a future that will be led by healthy, educated and caring individuals."
Members of the Early Years Steering Committees have a very important role to play, including:
- Bringing together local business, charitable and voluntary sectors to
provide financial and in-kind resources;
- Raising public awareness and education;
- Taking stock of early years services and resources;
- Reviewing Early Years Challenge Fund submissions; and
- Developing partnerships, agreements and protocols to support local
Early Years Plans.

"I appreciate the commitment these individuals are making on behalf of Ontario's children," said Baird. "By working together, we can make a difference in the lives of young people now, and well into the future."
The Order In Council appointments to the Thunder Bay District Early Years Steering Committee include:

- Barbara Lysnes (Community Coordinator); community animator; early
childhood educator
- Lynn Kislock (Chair); instructor, Confederation College; trainer and
recruiter for international work experience programs; former Job
Developer and Family Support Worker, City of Thunder Bay
- Margaret Boone; Professor Emeritus in the school of nursing, Lakehead
University; past board member, Children's Aid Society, William W.
Creighton Centre, Thunder Bay; current member of the National Centre
for Excellence for Children and Adolescents with Special Needs
- Ethel Douglas; lifetime district volunteer; former chair of a local
breast screening program; member, Thunder Bay District Health Council;
local public school volunteer; former municipal councillor; grandparent
- Marisa Farrow; past board member, Harbour View Child Care Centre;
parent
- David Kubinec; parent with a long history of volunteerism with children
and youth; former advisory committee member for young entrepreneurs,
Confederation College; involved with Junior Achievement Club
- Ed Linkewich; retired police officer with extensive community service
and forensic identification experience on child abuse cases; served on
the boards of the Thunder Bay Children's Aid Society and Lakehead
Regional Family Centre
- Melody Lundstrom; children and youth volunteer; parent
- James Bruce Minore; Director, Centre for Rural and Northern Health
Research, looking at ways to improve services to children with special
needs in rural communities and northern First Nations; board member,
William W. Creighton Centre
- Gale Tolmonen; supervisor, Dorian Public School; operates school bus
services for the Superior Greenstone District School Board; parent;
accountant

The Early Years Steering Committees are expected to meet at least once a month to address local issues relating to children. The Community Coordinator is a full-time position that supports the committee and promotes the importance of the early years throughout the local area.

Backgrounder
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EARLY YEARS STEERING COMMITTEES

Ontario's 37 Early Years Steering Committees, part of the Harris government's Early Years Plan, are responsible for:
- Mobilizing communities;
- Raising public awareness and education on the importance of children's
early years;
- Compiling community inventories of early years services and resources,
including readiness-to-learn data;
- Reviewing Early Years Challenge Fund submissions; and
- Developing partnerships, agreements and protocols to support the design
and implementation of community-based Early Years Plans.

Ontario's Early Years Plan

Ontario's Early Years Study, commissioned by Premier Mike Harris and co- authored by Dr. Fraser Mustard and the Honourable Margaret McCain, demonstrated the critical importance of a child's early years in determining their life-long learning, behaviour and health. The government embraced the study's findings and is implementing the Early Years Plan to bring parents, caregivers, communities, volunteers, business and government together to effectively provide programs and supports for all children and parents. This plan represents a $114 million investment in a mix of universal and targeted early years programs. As part of the plan, $30 million will be used to establish Ontario Early Years Centres across the province. These centres will support parents by allowing access to a range of services in their communities.
The Early Years Study also recommended that the government could provide further support by creating a fund to support social entrepreneurship and providing seed funding to create successful early years and parenting programs. The fund should engage private sector, not-for-profit and other partners in developing collaborative and creative initiatives to support children and families. In response, the Harris government has established the Early Years Challenge Fund.

The Early Years Challenge Fund

The Early Years Challenge Fund is a key element of the government's Early Years Plan. The main objective of the fund is to mobilize communities to develop local early years and parenting opportunities so that all families in Ontario can help their children reach their full potential.
This initiative brings together diverse sectors at the local level to develop proposals to the fund. These community-based proposals, which include financial and in-kind contributions from the business, charitable and volunteer sectors, are matched dollar-for-dollar through the government's Early Years Challenge Fund. Communities are required to come forward with proposals to be funded 50 percent through the Challenge Fund and 50 percent through financial and in-kind contributions from community partners.
To recognize the unique needs of northern and rural communities, a special formula allowing for 25 percent financial and 75 percent in-kind contributions has been developed. Additionally, dedicated funding envelopes are being created to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Francophone populations. Through the Challenge Fund, Aboriginal and Francophone community proposals can respectively include 100 percent and 75 percent in-kind contributions.

Helping Communities Work Together

The Harris government continues to be a leader in Canada in raising awareness of the importance of early years opportunities. The Early Years Study recommended that government's role be to support communities and provide incentives for all sectors to contribute at the local level to ensure programs and supports meet the specific needs of each community.
Through the Challenge Fund and other key initiatives in the Early Years Plan, the government is fostering partnerships and supporting community action in the early years.

Making Ontario's Early Years Vision a Reality

In taking up the challenge, business, voluntary and charitable sector partners can make cash or in-kind contributions that will help build on existing programs, or create new programs where they are needed. Programs need to be available, affordable and accessible for all young children. They should also:

- Provide settings for children to experience activity-based and problem-
solving learning with other children and nurturing adults;
- Provide resources for parents and caregivers that support early child
development and responsive relationships;
- Support cross-sector information exchange and networking between
professionals working with children in the community;
- Undertake public awareness on early child development;
- Promote early development activities and resources that encourage
parents to provide rich learning experiences at home through reading
and talking to children;
- Undertake collaborative outreach to ensure all families and caregivers
are aware of early years and parenting program opportunities; and
- Provide mobile or satellite activities to support families living in
rural, northern and isolated communities.

Early Years Challenge Fund Structure

The Early Years Study emphasizes the importance of community ownership of local early years and parenting programs. Ontario has provided support to communities by ensuring the necessary infrastructure is in place. Early Years Community Coordinators will work with local Steering Committees, with representation from all sectors, to lead the development and implementation of local Early Years Plans, including the review of proposals to the Early Years Challenge Fund.

Challenge Fund Guidelines and Applications

Early Years Challenge Fund guidelines and application packages will be distributed directly to Early Years Community Coordinators and local Health Units. They will also be available on the Minister Responsible for Children's web site at www.childsec.gov.on.ca

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For further information: Dan Miles, Minister's Office, (416) 325-5215; Dianne Lone, Ministry of Community and Social Services, (416) 325-5156