Thunder Bay District Social Services Announces Changes to Child Care Special Needs Model

Thunder Bay District Social Services
Thunder Bay District Social Services offices in Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay District Social ServicesTHUNDER BAY – NEWS – The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board (TBDSSAB) wishes to announce that, as of August 1st, Children’s Centre Thunder Bay (CCTB) has begun operating the Child Care Special Needs Resource Program under a new service agreement.

The special needs resource program for child care is intended to support children with unique needs within licensed child care programs. This enhanced program will employ a team of Resource Teachers trained in recommended inclusive practices in early childhood education to provide information, resources, and supports to children, families and staff. Resource Teachers were previously employed by individual child care centres within the District of Thunder Bay. The new model will allow CCTB autonomy to deploy Resource Teachers to where services are required within the community.

Approximately 10% of children in child care have been identified with unique support needs requiring accommodation.

“Children’s Centre Thunder Bay is both honoured and thrilled to be working with the Special Needs Resources Program and all of the dedicated staff,” said CCTB CEO Diane Walker. “We look forward to collaborating with the Child Care Programs in partnership with The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board, as we work together to ensure that children with special needs and their families are included and well supported within child care. As our mission states – we are Improving Lives Together.”

TBDSSAB also wishes to announce the release of quality assurance scores for licensed child care centres in the District of Thunder Bay on its website at http://www.tbdssab.ca. This is another change designed to provide parents with information to make informed decisions about quality child care and to enhance quality child care.

All licensed child care centres with a service contract with the TBDSSAB are assessed yearly for quality standards. The Child Care Programs Officer makes unannounced visits to child care centres throughout the year to conduct a formal assessment of the program. The assessment examines six main elements of the program including: the competencies of the child care staff, the group size and ratio of the child care program, health and safety standards of the facility, program content and development, family involvement and child care management practices. TBDSSAB provides professional learning opportunities to support early childhood education staff in fulfilling the requirements of the quality assurance program. TBDSSAB will be publicly releasing quality assurance scores for the first time. Evidence suggests that making quality assurance information public has not only benefitted parents in making informed decisions about child care but also enhanced the quality of child care, leading to improved quality assurance scores over time.

“These changes reflect our desire to continue to effectively direct resources to match needs and ensure excellence in child care in the District,” said TBDSSB CAO William Bradica. “TBDSSAB remains committed to investing in the physical, social, emotional, and economic health of our communities and maintaining programs that are affordable, effective and accessible for all.”

Since 2000, as Service System Manager for child care, the TBDSSAB has contracted with the province to plan, fund and manage early learning and child care services within the District of Thunder Bay. The contract with the province for funding of child care services is divided into five main service areas: fee subsidy, general operating funding, special needs resourcing, family resource programs, and Ontario Works informal child care. In total, 51 licensed child care centres operating throughout the TBDSSAB service area receive funding while, on average, 800 families or 1,100 children are assisted through the fee subsidy program.