York Region EarlyON Registration Tool

Making York Region EarlyON Child and Family Programs More Accessible for Families Through the New EarlyON Registration Tool

By Monica Bryce and Kevin Pal

May 2023

OMSSA is featuring several of our 2022 Local Municipal Champion award recipients and their work in the Knowledge Exchange Blog. Please read the entry from York Region below. 

EarlyON Child and Family Programs provide high-quality, inclusive, welcoming places for families with children from birth to six years old. Together in the EarlyON classroom, parents/caregivers and their little ones make connections with families and educators, nurture their child’s development through learning and play, and find a supportive community during this crucial time in their child’s life. 

That’s why York Region EarlyON Child and Family Programs was committed to ensuring families can easily access and register for in-person and virtual EarlyON programs. In April 2022, the York Region EarlyON Child and Family Programs and Ontario Child Care Management System (OCCMS) teams in collaboration with Consolidated Municipal Service Managers/District Social Service Administration Boards (CMSMs/DSSABs) came together to develop and implement a system-wide, centralized online registration platform for EarlyON programs.

This new platform streamlines the registration process and increases access to programs for families in the Regional Municipality of York (York Region) and across the province. Using the new platform, families can view upcoming EarlyON programs in each of the nine municipalities in York Region, and filter by site location, program and municipality.

Making EarlyON programs accessible 

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, EarlyON Child and Family Programs in York Region quickly pivoted their services and support to offer virtual programming when in-person programs were closed. This shift allowed families to access live online programs, such as the EarlyON at Home program, as well as activities and resources, to help parents entertain their young children and support their healthy growth while at home. This resulted in new ideas and approaches to offer a range of programs to support more families and children.

To be able to offer virtual programming during this time, York Region EarlyON agencies created individual online registration systems for their services and programs. While this effort allowed families to sign up for virtual programs, it required families to navigate various agency websites – a complicated process that was time consuming and limited access to available programs. 

Working together for families in York Region 

The York Region EarlyON team recognized the need for a centralized and system-wide registration process. As the Service System Manager for child care and early years system within York Region, including EarlyON programs, York Region was proud to lead this initiative with our community partners. The York Region Ontario Child Care Management System (OCCMS) and York Region EarlyON Child and Family teams developed the online registration platform for EarlyON programs, in collaboration with EarlyON agencies and other CMSMs/DSSABs. The new system allows for agency flexibility to set their own policies and processes while maintaining management over their unique registration systems and communications.

Since its launch on April 1, 2022, the new platform has increased access to available programs, made it easier for families to find and register for programs, expanding parent choice, and enhanced data collection and integration. This critical work will also support future program planning to ensure programs and services are responsive to the needs of local communities and promotes the inclusion of all families. 

Enhanced collaboration with EarlyON programs

The EarlyON registration platform is accessible through a new Children’s Services Portal. To access the registration platform, families are required to create an account with the Children’s Services Portal. Once an account is created, families can register for any EarlyON program. To help ease the transition to the new registration tool for families, EarlyON educators were trained to support families with registration in advance of the launch so that they could continue to enjoy and attend EarlyON programs in their communities without disruption. 

Setting up EarlyON programs for success 

Since launching on April 1 and as of November 30, 2022: 

  • 7,699 families have used the registration portal in York Region
  • York Region EarlyON locations provided 12,281 programming hours to families 
  • A total of 8,004 programs were offered; program offerings increased by 112%! 
  • 53,411 total visits were recorded; participation increased by 116%!

In addition, the registration platform is now being used by seven CMSMs/DSSABs across the province; Chatham-Kent and Peel, Grey County, Simcoe County, Prince Edward County, Niagara Region and Bruce County.

The result is a stronger system that ensures EarlyON programs are inclusive of all children and families and meet the diverse needs of local communities. 

Municipalities who would like more information about the registration platform, should contact Monica Bryce at monica.bryce@york.ca or 1-877-464-9675 x 72096. 

About the Authors

Monica Bryce is the Director, Integrated Children’s Services Division, Regional Municipality of York. Monica leads a team of child care and early learning professionals to develop and administer high-quality and inclusive programs for children and their families in York Region, including through EarlyON Child and Family Programs, Early Intervention Services, Child Care and Children’s Community Programs, the Ontario Child Care Management System and the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care System. 

Kevin Pal is the General Manager, Social Services Branch, Regional Municipality of York. Kevin leads the overall planning, management and delivery of Children’s Services, Social Assistance, and homelessness prevention and housing stability services. Through an inclusive and collaborative leadership approach, and with the support of a dedicated senior leadership team, the Social Services Branch works with partners to delivers effective and responsive community services and programs, while ensuring administrative, financial and organizational integrity.

Blog categories: Children's Services, EarlyON, Local Municipal Champion, York Region