Kids & Community
- A Parent Readiness Project


This is a two year social inclusion project that started in January 2006 and led by the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO). Kids & Community is working in five communities (Hamilton, North Bay, Ottawa, Quinte, and Toronto) with the aim to build a children’s agenda, a movement toward ensuring that every child that lives in our communities and across the Province, enjoys an opportunity to achieve his or her full potential from early in life. Our goal is to build parent-community partnerships that improve opportunities for children and their family members through community engagement, action, and reflection.

Project Overview

The Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) is a province-wide network of community based social planning and community development organizations that provide research, policy analysis, education and community development supports. SPNO members are committed to promoting social and economic inclusion and have accumulated valuable experience on building inclusive community through joint projects. The SPNO proposes Kids & Community: A Parent Readiness Project.

The Project is engaging families with children aged zero to six years in a process that builds their capacity to support their children’s learning and development and to shape strategies for broadening community support for welcoming and including all children. Five communities will participate in this initiative: Ottawa, Belleville, Toronto, Hamilton, and North Bay.

School readiness and smooth transition into school are major issues in the lives of marginalized children in their early years as a result of low income, disability, racial or cultural acceptance, or family status. As they contend with these distancing forces, parents struggle to support their children’s growth and development. The Kids & Community Parent Readiness Project will facilitate a process for parents to discover and develop their own capacities to work toward building inclusive environments for their children. Parents will be supported to become actively and constructively engaged in community strategies to eliminate barriers to inclusion.

The objectives of the Kids & Community project are:

  1. To facilitate a process for increasing parents’ capacity to support their children’s learning and development.
  2. To facilitate the building of community consensus on issues and actions aimed at developing inclusive practice and policy as it relates to supporting families with children under six years of age.
  3. To promote a broader and deeper understanding of social and economic inclusion through analysis, education, advocacy, and action.
  4. To implement, document, and disseminate learning from the project.

Local SPNO members are providing the leadership necessary to facilitate a process for:

  • engaging parents in community development activities which identify the specific and unique needs of their family members;
  • linking parents with community and human service providing organizations;
  • supporting parents to articulate their needs and that of their early learners within community and institutionally based learning environments; and
  • engaging parents and community in information and solution-based activities which increase opportunities for building inclusive communities.

Each community is implementing a community driven, socially inclusive strategy based on Visioning Days conducted with local parents and service providers. As a result of identifying priority issues of concern, parents are organizing to take action. These activities are giving voice to parents and families as they identify exclusionary practice; build partnerships between parents, excluded populations, human service organizations, and the broader community and create action geared toward realizing their vision toward parent readiness.

Planning and action tailored to the particular conditions and circumstances of each community are being supported through a common framework provided by the central support function of the SPNO. The SPNO has also organized a series of All-Community Reflection Sessions to develop a common framework, document and reflect on learning from the field, and create field-tested knowledge on parent and community mobilization that enhances the life chances of marginalized children from their earliest years.