Today, the City of Toronto’s newest EarlyON Child and Family Centre, which focuses on the cultural needs of the Indigenous community, was opened as part of a new community hub at the Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre. The centre is located at 31 Tapscott Rd. in Scarborough and will be operated by Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. Holistic, culture-based programs and services will be offered to Indigenous children and their families and caregivers.
The virtual grand opening included a virtual walk-through of the new site, a traditional Indigenous ceremony, video statements by Mayor John Tory, Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Schiffer of the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto and an Elder, and an overview of the child-centered, family-focused and community-driven programs that will be delivered through this new centre.
EarlyON Child and Family Centres offer free programs to parents and caregivers and their children from birth to six years of age. Centres welcome families to participate in programs that help strengthen adult-child relationships, support parent education and foster healthy child development. Qualified professionals can help families and caregivers find support, get advice, make personal connections and access a network of resources.
The Indigenous community developed culturally-relevant programs and services to offer at the new centre, including daily drop-in programs, play and inquiry-based learning opportunities using natural and traditional teachings and materials, and Abinooji Circle (parent-child circle time). Special events and workshops will also be offered, including the crafting of regalia, rattles and moccasins, healthy cooking and teaching of traditional languages. Through additional services such as the Mino Meechum community kitchen and seniors programming, the centre will also serve as an important community hub.
The Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre is the first of two new EarlyON Child and Family Centres focusing on the cultural needs of Indigenous children, their families and caregivers. The launch of the Mount Dennis Aboriginal Child and Family Centre, the second of the two centres, is planned to coincide with National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. While awaiting completion of the new sites, Indigenous EarlyON programs were temporarily delivered out of Emily Carr Public School in Malvern and Bala Avenue Community School in Mount Dennis. As EarlyON Centres are currently under a provincial closure order due to COVID-19, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto will continue to offer virtual and remote services from the new location and land-based programming in City of Toronto parks until they are permitted to re-open.
Funding for the two new Indigenous EarlyON Child and Family Centres was provided by the Ministry of Education as part of the Journey Together Initiative, a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action report. The projects were designed by the community through a needs assessment led by Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC).
Native Child and Family Services of Toronto also operates the Ontario Aboriginal Child and Family Centre in downtown Toronto, the Scarborough Family Life Centre and a mobile Indigenous fathering program, alongside many other programs and services. The City has also partnered with other Indigenous community groups to deliver a wide range of other Indigenous programs for children and families, including mobile land-based programming and Indigenous language programs.
More information about EarlyON Child and Family Centres is available on the City’s website.
Information about the two new Aboriginal Child and Family Life Centres is available online.
“The City of Toronto is proud to help create more culturally-relevant and meaningful programs for Indigenous children and their families in this city. I’m happy to see the results of the City’s partnership with Native Child and Family Services of Toronto have helped open this new EarlyON Child and Family centre within the community hub in Malvern.”
– Toronto Mayor John Tory
“From the time that Toronto began to manage the City’s EarlyON Child and Family Centres, we made great efforts to meet the cultural needs of the communities that we served. I am excited to see our efforts bear fruit in the new Aboriginal Child and Family Centre in Malvern launched today, as well as in the one scheduled to open in June.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“The new EarlyON Centre at Malvern Aboriginal Child and Family Centre will be a very welcome addition to our local community. This will be a wonderful place for children, youth, caregivers and parents, as well as Elders and seniors living in the Scarborough community to experience meaningful and culturally-relevant programs. I look forward to visiting as soon as we can safely welcome the local community.”
– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee
“Native Child and Family Services of Toronto is excited to expand our capacity to deliver holistic, culture-based programs and services in partnership with the City of Toronto through our two new Aboriginal Child and Family Centres. These centres will provide critical supports to Indigenous children and families who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in our city. They will provide holistic community hubs that will also connect Indigenous children and other community members to the broad range of programs and services offered by our agency.”
– Dr. Jeffrey Schiffer, Executive Director, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto
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