These principles will guide Children’s Services’ decision-making and priority-setting during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a great amount of uncertainty and change affecting the child care and early years sector, so we need to adapt in a way that supports and learns from our partners and the people we serve.
These principles apply relevant findings from recent engagement with service providers and families so that recovery efforts are informed by what we have heard from our closest stakeholders.
Throughout the recovery period, plans will require aligning with provincial reopening and recovery directions, other City Divisions, the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild, and key partners such as school boards.
The health and safety of children, families, and child care and early years staff is the priority of Toronto Children’s Services. As service system manager, Toronto Children’s Services will work with Toronto Public Health, the Province of Ontario and operators to implement health and safety directives.
During this time of uncertainty and rapidly shifting decisions, Toronto Children’s Services recognizes the importance of communicating regularly and in a clear and transparent manner with providers and families. We are aware of barriers to obtaining information and recognize the need for targeted, accessible information-sharing, in collaboration with divisional and community partners, to reach Toronto’s diverse communities.
In times of uncertainty, it is more important that decision-making involve the gathering and leveraging of evidence to assess and adjust different courses of action and their impacts on diverse stakeholders. Using data is crucial to recognizing gaps, predicting needs, identifying trends, and providing feedback into decision-making on an ongoing basis. By being nimble and iterative in our approach, we can respond to and make changes while developing polices and delivering programs and services.
Toronto Children’s Services recognizes the pandemic has not impacted children and families equally. Recovery responses must advance equity by addressing the greatest unmet needs of Toronto’s diverse families. This requires greater inclusivity when providing child care and early years services, and applying deliberate intersectional, Indigenous, Confronting Anti-Black Racism and equity-based lenses to achieve fairness in child and family outcomes.
There will be new demands on service providers that change how programs are delivered. As Service System Manager, Toronto Children’s Services commits to creating a culture of support for service providers, in collaboration with divisional partners where applicable. This includes providing proportionate support based on the distinct needs of providers, adapting supports to the evolving nature of recovery, and ensuring administrative ease.
Toronto Children’s Services recognizes the unique status and cultural diversity of Indigenous communities and their right to self-determination. We strive to remove barriers, and ensure flexibility to provide culturally relevant, safe, and proficient programs and services for Indigenous Peoples, delivered in partnership with Indigenous organizations during recovery efforts.
Through service plan engagement, we heard about systemic barriers that families face when navigating and using child care and early years services. In particular, we commit to applying an Anti-Black Racism analysis in decision-making regarding COVID-19 recovery efforts. We recognize, affirm and support the important role of Black-led and Black-serving organizations.