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Gearing Up

Gearing Up Together

Actions

Through Gearing Up, Ontario is committed to mobilizing and sustaining our focus on the wellbeing of middle years children and their families.

In order to support progress towards the outcomes we want for our children and families, the government is committed to cross-cutting actions that will create the conditions for middle years children to succeed and to thrive.

We will leverage and maximize the efforts of all those who are working to support children, families and communities.

We will also monitor the overall state of wellbeing in the province through Ontario’s Middle Years Profile of Wellbeing.

These are the actions we will take:

  1. Mobilize evidence on optimal child development
  2. Catalyze leadership
  3. Focus on the needs of marginalized children and families
  4. Increase the voice of families
  5. Increase capacity to better serve diverse and marginalized children and families
  6. Provide updates and information on the wellbeing of middle years children and their families

Action 1: Mobilize evidence on optimal child development

Gearing Up is based on up-to-date evidence on middle childhood development. We consolidated this research into a resource for those who play a role or influence the life of middle years children either directly or indirectly, including:

On MY Way: A Guide to Support Middle Years Child Development maps the interdependent developmental domains of middle years children from an inclusive, wholistic and strengths-based perspective.

On MY Way describes the major developmental milestones (“What is happening?”) and indicators (“How do we know?”), and highlights opportunities to help children succeed.

Graphic: On MY Way: A Guide to Support Middle Years Child Development

The purpose of the guide is to help families, caring adults and others understand what is happening developmentally, the importance of supports and experiences for childhood development, and ways to support children to develop to their optimum ability.

We will mobilize this research, so those who play a role in children’s lives have the tools they need to support children on their way to their teen years.

We also need to do a better job of measuring the outcomes of services that children receive.

Cover: On MY Way: A Guide to Support Middle Years Child Development

On My Way: A Guide to Support Middle Years Child Development is available online at: www.ontario.ca/onMYway [[hyperlink to be confirmed]]

Chart: On MY Way: A Guide to Support Middle Years Child Development

Action 2: Catalyze leadership

We recognize that our vision for all children in Ontario to thrive is aspirational. Yet with the right leadership and in partnership with communities, we can get there. Supporting this vision does not rest on any one sector, level of government, community service provider, or organization. Rather, it involves a complex, interconnected and multi-faceted network of players who all have a role in designing and delivering services, programs, policies and activities. This is what we consider the child and family “ecosystem” or environment.

The Ontario government is committed to using the core principles for the wellbeing of middle years children and their families as a basis for our work in this sector.

Through Gearing Up, we will increase and align our impact as leaders in supporting children and their families. This will result in an ecosystem for middle years children that will be:

An important part of a strategic framework like Gearing Up is to provide a set of outcomes and indicators that will drive our work on a provincewide basis to support middle years children to thrive. It is also a set of outcomes that can support how communities, service providers, and others will use the framework to establish their own program frameworks for children and families.

Action 3: Focus on the needs of marginalized children and families

Ontario will continue to focus efforts to support the wellbeing of children and families as priorities, and to focus investments on improving the wellbeing of marginalized children and families.

A number of new initiatives in Ontario focus on marginalized and vulnerable people, including families and children. We will continue to align our efforts for maximum impact.

For example, Gearing Up will align with Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Renewed Early Years and Child Care Policy Framework, A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy, the Healthy Kids Strategy, the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan, OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare, Aboriginal Community Capital Grants Program, Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, the Ontario Autism Program, Ontario’s Special Needs Strategy, the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Strategy, Access Talent: Ontario’s Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities, new initiatives to reform the child welfare sector, expansion of mental health and addictions services, including those for children and youth, the Updated Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy, and other initiatives, investments and strategies that focus on marginalized children and families.

Through Gearing Up, we will ensure that meeting the needs of marginalized children and families are top priorities. We know that supporting marginalized children and families creates a fairer, more equitable society, which creates a strong and thriving province for all Ontarians.

Action 4: Increase the voice of families in the design and delivery of services

On a day-to-day basis, parents and caregivers in Ontario are doing the best they can to support their children to thrive. Families are the most important resource in the wellbeing of children in Ontario, and as a government, we are committed to helping families thrive.

We know that families are competent and capable experts on their children’s strengths, needs, abilities, and experiences. When we talk about children, we cannot separate their needs from those of their families.

We are making a commitment to listen to families when we design policies and programs to support their children.

At the program level, we will work with government and community partners to embed a strengths-based, child- and family-centred approach to how programs and policies are designed and delivered.

At the system level, we will explore different mechanisms to give families a voice in the design and delivery of policies and programs across government.

We will do more to meet the needs of the family, as well as the needs of the child.

Action 5: Increase capacity to better serve diverse and marginalized children and families

Ontario’s network of programs and services needs to be responsive to the diverse needs and backgrounds of the children and families we serve. We will take steps to ensure that all provincially funded programs and services are delivered in culturally relevant ways and respond to the diverse needs of children and their families.

To do this, we will take the following actions:

We will continue to work with partners across the child “ecosystem” to promote an inclusive and equitable system of services for children.

Action 6: Provide updates and information on the wellbeing of middle years children and their families

An important part of Gearing Up is establishing a shared set of outcomes and indicators to drive our work to support children to thrive. These outcomes can be used by communities, service providers, and others to establish their own program frameworks for children and families.

Beginning in 2018, the government will report annually on the provincial level outcomes outlined in Ontario’s Middle Years Profile of Wellbeing, by tracking Gearing Up indicators. We will also use qualitative and other community-based methods to understand and tell the stories of how middle years children are doing, including First Nations, Mètis, Inuit and urban Indigenous children and families.