In 1982, a group of immigrant parents identified the need for services and programs for children, parents and caregivers, including grandparents, from a variety of backgrounds. A steering committee was formed with the help of a Community Worker from St. Christopher House.
In January 1983, Children’s Place received a Federal Community Development Project Grant. Staff from various language and cultural backgrounds were hired to do a door-to-door community needs assessment in the Ossington-Bathurst/College Area.
The needs assessment lead to the launching of a parent-child centre, childcare registry and occasional childcare services offerings at Montrose Public School. Staff spoke Portuguese and Spanish and had a variety of professional backgrounds, including social work and early childhood education. Programs were informal, non-threatening and planned to build on the existing strengths and skills of participants. Emphasis was placed on acknowledging and respecting different cultural practices in child rearing.
CMCP became incorporated on August 12, 1983 and shortly thereafter received charitable status.
A Board of Directors was established, largely composed of parents and care providers. Other community members who supported the mission and values were also included on the Board. Committees reflecting the community were established to assist with developing and evaluating the organization, its staff, and its programs and services.
By January 1984, Child Care Resource Funding was secured from MCFCS.
Shortly thereafter, Children’s Place received two grants from City of Toronto and Metro Community Services to support outreach activities, cultural celebrations and administrative expenses.
Ongoing involvement in networks of service providers, and data available from the City of Toronto, Local Schools, and the Census, as well as agency outreach activities, indicated that the neighbourhood was undergoing change. This lead the Board to determine that there was a need to make our services more accessible to a growing population of Cantonese-speaking families.
In 1989, Children’s Place received one-time funding from United Way for outreach to and programs for Cantonese-speaking families. With this support, CMCP hired staff that spoke both Cantonese and Mandarin and began to develop a group of volunteers who spoke those languages.
In 1990, with one-time support from Metro MAF, Children’s Place worked with Chinese Family Life Services to continue outreach to Cantonese-speaking families and to learn more about some of the issues they were facing. At this same time, our staff, Board, committees and participants worked together to develop an Access Policy that was completed in 1992 and revised in 1998.
Children’s Place initiated collaboration with St. Christopher House, under a MCSS Multilingual Access Grant, to provide support to Cantonese-speaking persons in need of social assistance. (This funding ended in 1995, but elements of this program continue with the help of volunteers.)
From inception, Children’s Place has served many Portuguese-speaking families. At participant consultation meetings, parents reported that large numbers of Portuguese-speaking families lived just to the west of our program. They were unable to access our services because of distance. In winter, we found that some participants would not attend, particularly grandparent careproviders who found it difficult to walk any distance in snow and bad weather.
Local data from schools and the city also indicated a large proportion of Portuguese families with young children in this area. Toronto Board data indicated that Portuguese-speaking children had the highest rate of early school leaving and were often streamed into non-academic programs. Late in 1995, Children’s Place began collaborating with CCAS and St. Helen’s School to provide Family Support Services at St. Helen’s School with the one-time help of Metro Community Services, The Trillium Foundation, and The Junior League. At the same time, we explored new sources of funding and stepped up our fundraising to bolster stability for all programs.
In this same year, Children’s Place entered an additional multi-agency collaboration with The Dufferin Mall Management to provide access/outreach services in the mall, including a play space for young children. CMCP recognized that a mall offered excellent opportunities to reach out to parents. Children’s Place continues to be an active member of the steering committee and provides staff and volunteers one day a week.
In 1996, Children’s Place, in cooperation with CCAS and St. Helen School, received one-time funding from the Trillium Foundation to reach out to families near the school and make preventative services more accessible to families.
In 1997, this funding was complemented by a United Way Action Grant to develop our capacity to recruit, support and train volunteers.
Also in 1997, Children’s Place received an additional grant from Trillium to improve our technological capacity (computers and internet access).
At the 1997 Board Planning Day, we developed new pathways for collaborative service delivery and enhanced support to families through continued work with community partners as a top priority.
In 1998, College Montrose Children’s Place received the first City of Toronto Children’s Advocates Award for Best Practices, for showing “innovation in working in collaboration with other programs and service sectors to provide improved services, delivering services in a new and innovative manner and providing new forms of service to meet community needs.” A panel of children’s service experts working in the City of Toronto adjudicated the award, recognizing Children’s Place as a leader in the field that follows effective practices. The program was also recognized with a cash award.
Since being transferred to the City of Toronto Children’s Services in 2000, staff have actively participated in a City working committee to develop an Operating Criteria to ensure effective practices for City-managed family support programs. Children’s Place has volunteered to be a pilot site to test these newly-developed criteria.
In 2018, Children’s Place is presently in the fourth year of a six-year United Way Success By Six Program. This funding has supported the development parenting education and support groups for Portuguese-speaking families, school readiness programs and expanded drop-in and parent relief hours. These programs are designed to specifically address the issue of parenting in extended families (in which grandparents and other careproviders are included), in single-parent families and by fathers. As the lead agency in a partnership with St. Christopher House and Abrigo Centre, we have been responsible for planning, delivering and ensuring integration of these services.
Children’s Place actively participated on the West Toronto Parent-Child Network since its inception.
CMCP has pursued every available opportunity to bring specialized support services to families in an integrative manner, e.g., our Six-week Toronto Speech and Language Program, Regular Public Health Nurse visits to parent-child programs, and working with a coalition of Family Resource Programs.
In 2001, Children’s Place was approved for an Early Years Challenge Fund Project to provide mobile early childhood education and parenting supports to five sites in West Toronto. This project was developed in collaboration with the members of the West Toronto Parent Child Network. This partnership includes Access Alliance, Davenport Perth, The Crèche, Public Health, Toronto Speech and Language, Four Villages Community Health Centre, Toronto Housing, Chetwynd Community Development Program, St. Christopher House, CAS, CCAS and Dufferin Mall.
College Montrose Children’s Place is one of the partners in another Early Challenge Fund Project that hopes to provide a new prenatal nutrition site in West Toronto.
CMCP is part of “The Bang the Drum Network,” a network of sites that provide computer and internet access lead by St. Christopher House.
In summer 2002, a new database was developed to enhance data collection.
In 2003, we were named the Ontario Early Years Centre for Trinity-Spadina.
That same year, we were proud to be granted United Way membership.
In 2014, we moved into our 4,000-square-foot home in Artscape Youngplace at 180 Shaw Street.