Better Beginnings, Better Futures is one of the most ambitious research projects on the long-term impacts of early childhood development programming ever initiated in Canada.
The Better Beginnings, Better Futures model is designed to prevent young children in low income, high risk neighbourhoods from experiencing poor developmental outcomes, which then require expensive health, education and social services. The Better Beginnings model has been implemented in 8 socio-economically disadvantaged communities in Ontario since 1991.
The Better Beginnings, Better Futures Project had its origin in the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services. The 1983 Ontario Child Health Study revealed that one in six children has an identifiable emotional or behavioural disorder.The report also identified that children living in families that received social assistance or who lived in subsidized housing were at greater risk for these problems.
In 1989, The Better Beginnings, Better Futures model was accepted by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services as the model with which to launch its longitudinal prevention policy research demonstration project. One year later, in spring of 1990, the Ontario Government released a Request for Proposals.
Proposal development grants of approximately $5,000 each were awarded to 55 initial applicants. Forty-eight proposals were submitted in July 1990 and reviewed by a fifteen-member Proposal Review Panel. The top 25 were visited in person by the panel. The eight selected communities were announced in January, 1991.
Each selected community was funded to develop a local prevention project that would address the following goals:
to reduce emotional and behavioural problems in children.
to promote social, emotional, behavioural, physical, and educational development in children.
Parent Education and Support
: to strengthen the abilities of parents and families to respond effectively to the needs of their children.
to develop high-quality programs for children from birth to age four or from four to eight years of age and their families that respond effectively to the local needs of the neighbourhood.
to encourage neighbourhood parents and other citizens to participate as equal partners with service-providers in the planning, designing and carrying out of programs for children and families, as well as other activities in the local community.
to establish partnerships with existing and new service-providers and educational organizations and to coordinate program activities.
Children aged 0-4 or 4-8 years and their families living in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Ontario with multiple high risks for poor child development.
Infant/Preschool Model (Focus on Children 0 - 4years)
: Willow Road neighbourhood (625 children)
neighbourhood (1,095 children)
: Albion-Heatherington-Fairlea-Ledbury neighbourhoods (690 children)
: Moss Park/Regent park (1,125 children)
First Nation (250 children)
Preschool/Primary School Model (Focus on Children 4-8 years)
: 4 Francophone primary schools (530 children)
: Highfield Junior School neighbourhood (517 children)
: Flour Mill/le Moulin à Fleur and Donovan neighbourhoods (503 children)