Early Years and Child Care Services

Early Years Programs & Services

Emergency child care for designated essential service workers

As Ontario schools are closed for in-person learning following the April break as part of the Ontario Government broader efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Education and the City of Hamilton is providing targeted free emergency child care for the school aged children of designated essential service workers effective April 19, 2021.

During this period, emergency child care services is available for designated essential workers as defined by the Provincial eligibility requirements, who are not able to accommodate their school-aged child’s learning or care at home.

Emergency child care is being provided by the three licensed home child care agencies in Hamilton. For more information on accessing this care, please contact one of these agencies:

Licensed child care programs, including licensed centre based, home childcare care and child care located in schools, for children aged 0 to 3.8 years will continue during this period.

  • Health care workers, including but not limited to doctors, nurses, health care providers and those who work in long-term care and retirement homes, as well as individuals who manufacture or distribute medical/pharmaceutical supplies
  • Individuals performing work in relation to the administration, distribution or manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines
  • Child care workers, including those staffing the emergency child care programs
  • Grocery store and pharmacy workers
  • Public safety (police, fire, paramedics, provincial inspection/enforcement), justice/court and correctional system workers
  • Frontline staff in Children's Aid Societies and residential services
  • Individuals working in developmental services, violence against women services, victims' services, anti-human trafficking and those engaged in interpreting or intervenor services for persons who are deaf or deaf-blind
  • Individuals working in a homeless shelter or providing services to homeless persons
  • Food safety inspectors and individuals working in the processing, manufacturing or distribution of food and beverages
  • OPS staff employed in Radiation Protection Services
  • OPS staff performing critical tasks related to environmental monitoring, reporting and laboratory services
  • Certain federal employees, including RCMP, Canada Border Services, Canadian Armed Forces and Canada Post
  • Power workers
  • Non-municipal water and wastewater workers
  • Workers involved in the collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste.
  • Education staff who are required to attend schools to provide in-person instruction and support to students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning
  • Employees of a hotel or motel that is acting as an isolation centre, health care centre, vaccine clinic or housing essential workers.
  • Truck drivers and transit workers
  • Construction workers
  • Any individual whose child was registered in an emergency child care program delivered by a Consolidated Municipal Service Manager or District Social Service Administration Board during the time period beginning on April 6, 2021 and ending on April 16, 2021.


EarlyON Child and Family Centres: Helping You at Home

Hamilton EarlyON Centres are offering online stories and fun activities to do with your families while at home during the pandemic.

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)