Children First is one of 48 programs that offer Infant & Child Development Services (ICDS), in the province of Ontario, funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. We provide a range of services aimed to promote optimum development for children and enhance parent’s confidence and capacity to support their child’s developmental needs.
Children and families receiving this service include:
- Children with established risk factors associated with lifelong difficulty in function and related to diagnosed medical disorders i.e. children with Down syndrome, seizures disorders, cerebral palsy, microcephaly, etc.
- Children with biological risk related to a complex history of early medical and developmental events during pregnancy, at birth or after birth i.e. sensory impairments, stroke in utero, prematurity, early global developmental delays, fetal alcohol spectrum, etc.
- Children with psychosocial risk factors related to environment i.e. children who are at risk or fall behind developmentally due to environment/caregivers inability to respond adequately to their needs.
- Children with suspicion of or diagnosis of Autism.
At Children First, families whose children have or are at risk for developmental concerns, are assigned to an early intervention specialist (Resource Consultant) on one of our infant and child development teams, or one of our child care support teams (if the child is in a licensed child care). Sometimes children also have behavioural/mental health needs that we can address. The Resource Consultant partners with the family and takes on the role of the ‘Primary Partner’.
Services provided by Children First staff may include:
- Identification of the child’s and family’s strengths and needs (through the use of the CANS-POC)
- Developmental assessments/screening
- Intervention, coaching and/or modeling
- Service Coordination
Our staff are qualified, skilled and experienced in the area of child development and early intervention. Other staff are available to partner with the family and Resource Consultant for consultation, assessment and intervention as needed, and include: physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists, psychology and social work. The teams are supervised by highly experienced and skilled professionals in the early intervention field. There are times where the family and child’s needs can be better met by another program or agency where we will work collaboratively with the family and other agencies to facilitate access to those services.
We believe strongly in the benefits of early intervention in minimizing the impact of any delay on the child’s future/potential. We encourage families to act early and NOT ‘wait and see’ as the Early years are when many of the foundational skills for future success are being developed. Parents can refer directly to Children First when they have concerns about their infant’s, toddler’s or preschooler’s development.