Build Belonging - Inclusive EarlyON Programming

Build Belonging Through Inclusive EarlyON Programming

By: City of Brantford

April 2024


Brantford’s population is becoming more ethnically and culturally diverse, with a high percentage of new residents identifying as a visual minority, newcomers to Canada, and/or having a primary language other than English or French.  

Inclusive Community Plan

In response to this changing community, Brantford City Council unanimously adopted the Inclusive Community Plan (ICP) in June 2023. This plan was developed in partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of Social Work, and with the input and feedback from a wide range of community stakeholders and subject matter experts.  

It is acknowledged by all stakeholders that developing an Inclusive Community Plan is not a one-time process, but rather a commitment to listening, learning and cooperation over the long term.

The Inclusive Community Plan is based on the UNESCO Inclusive Municipality Framework, and demonstrates a collective effort to support diversity through three guiding principles:

1. Learn from Each Other

  • Keep listening
  • Highlight culturally based programs and projects
  • Develop localized understandings of history, identity and culture
  • Expand Indigenous-led and developed education opportunities
  • Develop resources for New Canadians to learn about local Indigenous history

2. Stand Up for Each Other

  •  Establish campaigns to respond to stereotypes and hateful messages
  •  Develop Allyship, ambassador and mentoring programs
  •  Support representation of all groups in community leadership positions
  •  Create new volunteer opportunities that allow for residents to lead community initiatives

3. Celebrate Each Other   

  •  Promote campaigns, art projects, and events that celebrate diverse cultures
  •  Support local media in capturing an expansive variety of voices, cultures, and perspectives
  •  Create more opportunities for exchange of culture and ideas
  •  Acknowledge and learn about uniqueness within culture and identity

In response, City staff from multiple departments and program areas are working with local organizations to initiate programs and projects to support the changing profile of the community.

Child Care and Early Years 10-Year Plan

The City of Brantford’s 10-Year Children’s Services Plan, Building Our Community from the Kids Up, identifies inclusion as an important component of healthy child development, positive self-esteem, and developing positive social skills.   

The Child Care and Early Years Plan sets out strategic goals informing current and future direction, aligned within key priority areas: Accessibility, Affordability, Inclusivity, Quality, and Accountability.

The City of Brantford and County of Brant Early Years and Child Care system is built on strong community partnerships that promote comprehensive, coordinated, and integrated programs and services for our families. By engaging in collaborative and sustaining partnerships, we are supported to ensure families have access to quality programs that are responsive to the community’s changing needs. 

Build Belonging represents a key project supporting both the Inclusive Community Plan and Building the Community from the Kids Up Plan.  

Build Belonging 

Build Belonging is a collaboration between the Brantford Immigration Partnership, Community Living Brant, Child and Family Services of Grand Erie, YMCA Immigrant Services, the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board, and the City of Brantford. 

The goal of Build Belonging is to increase EarlyON attendance from diverse families, by offering culturally-informed programming, art, books, and toys, culturally-based storytelling, open houses, translation of promotional material and program calendars, community/parent consultation, and identification of champions within various cultural communities.

Over the first six months, attendance at these EarlyON sites increased by nearly 10 per cent, with a high proportion of ‘new’ visitors representing a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. 

Going forward, the Children’s Services staff will continue expanding community partnerships to create an inviting space for families historically underrepresented in EarlyON programming.   


For more information, visit the following resource links:

About the Author

The City of Brantford is made up of a community of dedicated staff who work together to deliver hundreds of programs and services each day with the ultimate goal of enhancing the quality of life for our residents. 

Blog categories: City of Brantford, EarlyON, Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, Policy Changes, Culturally-Informed Programming, Workforce Development, New Service Delivery Model