Early Years and Child Care Services

Early Years Programs & Services

Emergency Child Care for Health Care & Other Frontline Workers

The City of Hamilton has partnered with our three licensed home child care agencies to offer emergency licensed home child care to health care and other essential frontline workers during the pandemic free of charge. Eligible workers include those working in health care, police, fire, paramedics, Public Health, long-term care, HSR and correctional officers. To be eligible, families must either live or work in Hamilton.

Full list of workers eligible for Emergency Child Care

  • An individual who is,
    • a regulated health care professional, or
    • an unregulated health care provider working in health care delivery, either directly or indirectly.
  • A police officer as defined in the Police Services Act.
  • A member of a police force other than a police officer as defined in the Police Services Act.
  • An individual employed as a firefighter as defined in section 1 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997.
  • An individual who is,
    • engaged in providing fire protection services as defined under section 1 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, and
    • employed in a fire department as defined under section 1 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997.
  • A paramedic as defined in the Ambulance Act.
  • A coroner as defined in the Coroners Act.
  • A worker in a correctional institution as defined in the Ministry of Correctional Services Act.
  • An individual employed in the Institutional Services Division of the Ministry of the Solicitor General, including a person employed in a correctional institution as defined in section 1 of the Ministry of Correctional Services Act.
  • An employee of Compass Group Canada Ltd. who works at or provides services in relation to the Cook Chill Food Production Centre.
  • An individual employed in the Ministry of the Solicitor General who performs one or more of the following functions for the Institutional Services Division or Community Services Division:
    • Performing electronic monitoring services.
    • Performing CPIC searches.
    • Preparing community supervision orders.
  • An animal welfare inspector appointed pursuant to the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019.
  • An individual employed in the operation of,
    • a place of secure custody designated under section 24.1 of the Young Offenders Act (Canada), whether in accordance with section 88 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (Canada) or otherwise, or
    • a place of secure temporary detention as defined in subsection 2 (1) of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017.
  • Persons employed in the Direct Operated Facilities Branch of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
  • An individual who performs work that is essential to the delivery of core services in a municipality or First Nation community, as determined by the municipality or First Nation. In Hamilton this includes:
    • individuals working in essential Public Health positions,
    • individuals working in essential City Contact Centre positions,
    • individuals providing essential Hamilton Water operations including drinking water, wastewater collection and treatment, and stormwater management,
    • individuals providing essential HSR service,
    • individuals providing essential services at Wentworth and Macassa Lodges, and
    • individuals supporting the Emergency Operations Centre, including individuals working in the Emergency Shelter System.
  • An individual who performs work of a critical nature in their service area or community, as determined by the Minister of Education or his delegate in consultation with the relevant service system manager or First Nation as those terms are defined under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.
  • An individual who works in a child care centre authorized to operate pursuant to this Order.

The three agencies are Today's Family, Wee Watch Golfwood, and Wee Watch Galbraith. All agencies have providers who will provide child care in their homes to accommodate 12 hour shifts for children of staff aged 12 months to 12 years of age.  

All three agencies are required to have pandemic plans in place and are working closely with Public Health to mitigate possible exposure to COVID-19. These agencies have implemented these strategies:

  • Children and staff who are ill with fever and/or infectious respiratory symptoms are required to stay home
  • The consistent practice of good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene
  • Enhanced environmental cleaning of the facility
  • Families who have recently traveled out of province are required to stay home from child care for 14 days to ensure they are not ill

Spaces are limited and the enrollment process is streamlined to ease access for these essential workers. Eligible families are to identify themselves as essential health care or frontline staff when they contact the agencies.

For more information on how to access this service, contact:

Based on the advice of Public Health, the safest place for children during this time is to remain at home and adhere to physical distancing recommendations. Emergency child care services are reserved exclusively for children of eligible essential workers who have no other alternatives.

A listing of programs and services available to children ages 0 to 12 and families living in Hamilton.

Child and Family Programs

These programs provide opportunities for all children to participate in play and inquiry-based programs, and support all parents and caregivers in their roles. 

Logo for the EarlyON Child and Family Centres

EarlyON Child and Family Centres provide opportunities for children from birth to 6 years of age to participate in play and inquiry-based programs, and support parents and caregivers in their roles. These centres offer safe and welcoming environments open to all families across Hamilton, with qualified professionals and quality programs. Families and caregivers can find support, advice, make personal connections and access a network of resources at these centres.

  • View the latest EarlyON Communication update and the feedback from Family Engagement Sessions: English(PDF, 446 KB), French(PDF, 261 KB)
  • February 2019 EarlyON Communication Update and Have Your Say Survey results: English (PDF, 40.84 KB), French (PDF, 43.45 KB)
  • June 2018 EarlyON Communication update: English (PDF, 112 KB), French (PDF, 112 KB)

View a map and listing of EarlyON Child and Family Centres in Hamilton

Check It Out Drop In

A free program where parents can ask questions about their child’s development. 

Many parents have questions about how their child is developing.  A Check It Out Drop In is an opportunity for families to drop in and speak with clinicians regarding their child’s growth and development. They occur at different locations throughout the City every month. All parents/caregivers with children from birth to six years of age can attend.

Professionals are available to talk to you at Check It Out Drop In. Find a Check It Out Drop In session

There are Early Childhood Educators, Early Childhood Resources Teachers, Public Health Nurses, Speech and Language Pathologists, and Mental Health Resources Workers. Dental Hygienists, and Infant Parent Therapists are available at some locations.

You can ask questions about:

  • Nutrition
  • Speech
  • Health
  • Development
  • Behaviour
  • How to cope with stress and other challenges

Contact us

Early Years Information Line: 905-524-4884
Health Connections: 906-546-3550 

Feeding Your Baby and Young Children

Attend a free session to learn how to feed your baby (0 to 12 months old) or young child (1 to 6 years old).

Feeding Your Baby and Making Baby Food session

Public Health Registered Dietitians teach parents and caregivers of children age 0 to 12 months about:

  • When to start giving solid foods to your baby
  • What solid food to give to your baby
  • How to offer new textures
  • How to make baby food

Feeding Young Children session

Public Health Registered Dietitians teach parents and caregivers of children age one to six years about:

  • What foods to offer your child
  • How to create a healthy eating environment, including family mealtimes and  role modelling

Sessions are free but registration is required. Find a Feeding Your Baby or Feeding Young Children session.

Specialized Services

Early identification is the first step in early intervention. Learn more about community resources available to your family.

If you are concerned your child isn’t meeting the milestones for development, don’t wait. Early identification is the first step in early intervention.

Use the Nippissing District Development Screen, an innovative developmental checklist for infants and children up to 6 years of age, to monitor your child’s development.

Community professionals are available at a variety of locations to meet with families and children from birth up to the age of six to offer consultation, teaching, and referral with respect to a child’s health development.

Community resources list

These community resources are a great places to start.

  • EarlyON Child and Family Centres: 905-524-4884
  • Check It Out Drop In: 905-524-4884 or 905-546-3550
  • Contact Hamilton: 905-570-8888
   

Hamilton’s Charters of Rights

The Charters are not only about supporting the City of Hamilton’s vision to be the best place to raise a child and age successfully, but also about making Hamilton the best place to be a child.

Hamilton Parent Charter of Rights

The Hamilton Early Years system is about supporting parents and families to provide children with the best possible opportunities early in their lives. Parents are the first, most important and most lasting teachers in a child’s life.

In 2010, a Hamilton Parent Charter of Rights was created. The Charter:

  • sets out shared principles and beliefs for providers to guide them around planning and delivering services that make parents feel valued, respected, and supported in their roles at each stage of their children’s lives
  • reflects the voice of the community, developed through extensive public consultation and feedback
  • provides a strong foundation for the future of families, service providers, and organizations that serve parents in Hamilton

Hamilton Parent Charter - English/French (PDF, 1 MB)
Hamilton Parent Charter - Spanish (PDF, 329 KB)
Hamilton Parent Charter - Chinese (PDF, 461 KB)
Hamilton Parent Charter - Arabic (PDF, 1 MB)

Hamilton Charter of Rights of Children and Youth

The Hamilton Early Years system supports the belief that all children and youth have rights. The Hamilton Charter of Rights of Children and Youth was created with the input of over 2000 children and youth from Hamilton, in their words, through extensive community engagement. Participatory responsibilities were added to open conversations between adults and children.

The Charter was released in 2015. A tour of the children’s artwork and celebrations of the charter occurred throughout the City of Hamilton with the hope of engaging the community in discussions about rights and building awareness.

The Charter is not only about making Hamilton the best place to raise a child, but also about making Hamilton the best place to be a child.

Charter Booklet - English (PDF, 35  MB)
Charter Booklet - French (PDF, 35 MB)
Charter Poster - English (PDF, 4 MB)
Charter Poster - French (PDF, 4 MB)

Guidebook to the New Parent & Family Engagement Framework

In May 2011, after extensive consultation, the Parent & Family Engagement Committee released Hamilton’s Parent Charter, enumerating the rights that parents should expect to have respected in their dealings with service providers and with all organizations that they come in contact with. The Vision and the Charter set out our values. But what should those look like in practice? That is the purpose of the Parent & Family Engagement Framework.

Guidebook to the New Parent & Family Engagement Framework (PDF, 315 KB)