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Success for Kids

A Toolkit for Children with Challenging Behaviours in the Child Care Setting


This tool kit has been developed in response to growing concerns from the Toronto child care community about the challenges of providing care for children displaying extreme aggressive behaviour, in School Age programs. A working group was established to discuss strategies to address this issue.

The group consisted of staff from Toronto Children’s Services, including both the Municipal Child Care Services and Special Services Unit, working in collaboration with staff from Community Living Toronto.

The plan was to address the specific concerns in the quadrant and to create a pilot that other centers facing similar issues could model. It was decided that a “Common Practice” tool kit would be developed to focus on all aspects of the problems and to provide possible solutions. The group met over the course of six months to formulate additional strategies.

We recognize that not all challenges and possible solutions can be addressed in this document. We focused on the process. During the course of this project we felt that deciding which strategies to use is as important as determining the strategy itself. It is hoped that the steps provided will help to address challenges at the individual center level.

The point of admission is a first step for supervisors in developing positive relationships with families and initiating support for children. When the supervisor is aware that a child with extra support needs is being admitted, there are steps that should be followed for a successful transition into care. The Supervisor’s Check List is a tool for supervisors to develop a complete plan to include a child with extra support needs into the program. The involvement of the Special Needs Resource Staff and the completion of a Service Plan Agreement provides a plan with everyone’s responsibilities outlined. There are times when a child’s extra support needs are not known beforehand. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Often, it is not until the child is displaying non-typical behaviours that concerns are identified and program support is required. The second part of the Supervisor’s Check List provides a guide for supporting staff and accessing initial resource support.


A child is displaying behaviours that are disruptive to the routines of the program. The Staff has made general observations, discussions have been held with parents, and strategies have been implemented. Prior to (or in conjunction with) discussions with the SNR, it is important for staff to review their understanding of the child and how the relationship with the environment, including adults, children, and physical setting, may impact upon behaviour. The article, The Power of Observation, and samples of observation charts will help staff gain a better understanding of how each individual is perceiving the child and his/her behaviour.


Once the Special Needs Resource Consultant is involved, it may be decided that Child Care Support Funds are necessary as a step in providing an additional staff into the program. Guidelines Referrals for an assessment may be made for speech, developmental, mental health and any other service as needed. It is important to keep in mind:
  • connections with school programs and other service providers
  • behaviour programming developed and actively in place (e.g. social skills programs)
  • adjunctive services which include the provision of medical and therapeutic services for the child. Associated professionals may provide specific training to parents and staff
  • team building information
  • more intensive training for staff
  • alternative community resourcing (in-home supports, private consultation options, etc.)
  • re-visiting medical work with family
  • Any significant changes that have occurred within the home environment or other familial changes that would impact upon the child.
To address the supports needed for staff, it may be necessary to hold a focus group session in which staff have an opportunity to openly respond to key questions regarding the needs in the program. The results of the focus group discussion may provide direction in some specific training and additional support needs of staff. This may be among themselves as a team or from the child care management team.

Workshops and Training Available

Building Friendships Program Brochure The Building Friendships Program offers Early Childhood Educators an opportunity to develop and enhance their teaching skills through a unique and supportive learning program. Early Childhood Educators (ECE’s) will learn the skills needed to teach children how to play cooperatively and build a lasting social foundation that will benefit them throughout their life. Anger Management Program kit The six session Anger Management program originated from a commitment to helping children (from the ages of two and half years and up) begin to build a foundation for understanding anger and incorporate strategies to deal with feelings of anger in their everyday lives. Although at the present this program has been used with Early Childhood Educators and children in child care, home providers and parents could also implement the program (or individual strategies from the sessions). SNAP- STOP NOW AND PLAN SNAP stands for STOP NOW AND PLAN. It is a cognitive-behavioural strategy that helps children and parents regulate angry feelings by getting them to stop, think, and plan positive alternatives before they act impulsively. For Goodness Sake For Goodness Sake is a six week program, in which the participants are guided and informed by the interactive CD. For Goodness Sake is based on these principles:
  • In their early years, children do not intentionally misbehave. They react to situations based on the skills they have at their disposal.
  • If a child is using challenging or aggressive behaviour, it is not to hurt others or to be difficult for parents and teachers. He or she simply needs to learn new, more appropriate ways to deal with situations.
Classwide Social Skills Program: Program kit There are five sessions, usually implemented on a weekly basis with the entire group of children. The sessions are structured so that they provide information on a specific topic through a variety of methods. The Peer Project YOUTH ASSISTING YOUTH is a non-profit charitable organization that provides a peer mentoring service to improve life prospects for at risk and newcomer children. YAY matches children aged 6-15 with trained and dedicated Youth Volunteers aged 16-29 who act as positive role models. Since 1976 YAY has helped more than 20,000 young people.


When the behaviour issues persevere, the team will suggest a referral for additional clinical supports. The child care team plays a critical role in this process. The team has implemented a variety of strategies/programs with the child and has regularly kept data that is reflective of the intervention. The teachers have recorded observations and can report their exact findings to professionals. Further action may include.
  • Referrals to medical teams including psychiatry (full medical investigations)
  • More intensive in-home types of support
  • Co-ordination of duties and or clarification of family needs (e.g. intensive short-term or long-term management)
  • Medication – awareness of centre policies/procedures
  • Serious Occurrence Policies/Procedures
For some families, they may reach a point that they no longer can cope or manage their child’s behaviour at home. They have actively engaged in activities from each Phase and are still expressing great difficulty with their child’s behaviour within the home environment. The centre/team’s role is to provide the family with knowledge of the types of resources/facilities available to them (some services may be accessed due to crisis).