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Ontario Early Years Centres

Visiting your local Ontario Early Years Centre is a great place for you and your child to play and learn together, meet other children and parents in the community, and gather information about community groups or organizations.

An Ontario Early Years Centre is a place for children up to the age of six and their parents and caregivers to participate in programs and activities together.

Ontario Early Years Centres provide all families in Ontario access to free services that help give children a healthy start in life regardless of income, culture, or special needs. Some of the services the centres offer are listed below:

  • early learning and literacy programs for parents and children
  • programs to help parents and caregivers in all aspects of early childhood development
  • programs on pregnancy and parenting
  • links to other early years programs in the community
  • outreach activities so all parents can get involved with their local Ontario Early Years Centre

For parents and caregivers who have limited space and materials, visiting their local Ontario Early Years Centre allows children the opportunity to play with toys and materials that are not available to them in their homes. Many Ontario Early Years Centres have a toy leading library where children can borrow materials to take home and use for a few days. Ontario Early Years Centres often have a resource lending library where parents can borrow books on a variety of parenting topics and child development.

You’ll find a variety of toys, materials, and activities that support children in all areas of development at your local Ontario Early Years Centre, including:

  • cognitive (thinking) skills,
  • literacy (reading and writing) skills,
  • fine motor skills (using small muscle groups),
  • gross motor skills (using large muscle groups),
  • expressive communication (speaking),
  • receptive communication (understanding spoken language and following instructions),
  • sensory skills (using sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell to explore materials),
  • play and social skills, such as sharing and turn-taking.

Ontario Early Years Centres often have activities planned as part of their routine. This allows children to participate in a variety of large group activities, such as a shared snack experience, a music circle, or a story time. The daily activities are planned and facilitated by early childhood professionals. The staff members at Ontario Early Years Centres are also available to answer questions about child development and provide information to parents about other community programs and support services for children and families.

Are there services to help children with special needs?

The physical space and resources in Ontario Early Years Centres are designed to meet the needs of all parents and caregivers with young children. Each Centre is linked to a child and family health agency and/or social service agency in the community. The staff at each Centre can refer parents to other services as needed.

If you are a parent or caregiver of a child up to the age of six, you are welcome at the Ontario Early Years Centre in your community. Currently, there are 103 Ontario Early Years Centres across the province. Many Ontario Early Years Centres also have satellite sites and mobile programs.

To locate the Ontario Early Years Centre in your community, contact The Ministry’s toll-free info line at 1-866-821-7770, or refer to the Ontario Early Years website at .

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