Centennial Infant and Child Centre Foundation
Our Impact Why We Exist
Centennial empowers and supports each special needs child and family through early intervention at home, in our integrated preschool and kindergarten programs and through participation in community programs. Centennial values and builds on the unique abilities of children with special needs and encourages all of them to develop the confidence and skills to find their place in the world.
Our Story What We Do
History of Organization
Centennial began in a small way in 1965 when a teacher and eight volunteers came together to help three severely disabled children and their desperate parents. At that time there was no other preschool in Toronto for children with multiple disabilities. In the ensuing 40 plus years the Centre has grown, providing services to over 500 children with special needs annually, across the Greater Toronto area. Our programs include Early Intervention in homes for babies and young children with diagnosed developmental delays or those who are considered at high risk, including and increasing number of premies. Preschool and Kindergarten programs in our school facility for children with developmental delays and a Child Care Consultation Service , assisting in over 20 childcare centres, helping staff to support children who have special needs.
Accolades and Accomplishments
Accomplishments and accolades are most meaningfully expressed by the parents of our special children:
“Centennial was such a supportive environment for Nick. Everyone loved him and wanted him to reach his potential and there were no limitations. For our family it was a challenging time. Centennial was a warm and welcoming place at a time of uncertainty.”
“I cannot tell you what a difference Centennial made – making what may have been an otherwise stressful journey for my family, a joy.”
“The staff at Centennial were the first professionals we spoke to about our son, who gave us hope!”
“Centennial is a place where our precious children flourish and grow beyond our wildest dreams, doing things we hoped and prayed they would one day be capable of, never thinking that that day would come so soon.”
Our Programs How We Do It
- Early Intervention Program. This program provides in-home support for children birth to five years and their families , in the Greater Toronto area. These children are identified as having developmental delays or are at high risk of developing delays. A team of eleven Early Interventionists and Occupational Therapists work to provide support and education to the children and their families.
- Preschool Program. This unique, individualized program for 32 children, ages 2 to 4 years, is offered for children with developmental delays. Four specially trained Teachers, a Physiotherapist , an Occupational Therapist and 120 volunteers (who provide 1:1 support to the children) work to ensure that every child will reach their potential.
- Kindergarten Program. This afternoon program is offered to 16 children ages 4 and 5 years, identified with developmental delays, and is taught by two specially trained Teachers.
- Special Needs Consultation Program. Two Early Interventionists consult to over 20 childcare programs in the Greater Toronto area , assisting and educating staff regarding children who have special needs.
Early Intervention Program
Our team of eleven Early Interventionists and Occupational Therapists provide in-home support for children birth to five years and their families, across the Greater Toronto area. Many of these children have been born prematurely , have experienced birth trauma, or have developmental delays related to diagnoses such as Down syndrome, autism or other medical and neurological disorders.
Early intervention is provided by the Interventionists, with consulting services available from our Occupational Therapists and a Speech and Language Therapist. Education and support of parents is also a key component of this program. Families are connected to agencies, programs, services and opportunities for their children in the community.
Centennial provides this service to over 350 children and their families annually, the largest and most highly acclaimed provider of these services in Toronto.
Funding and Program Partners
The Yellow Bus Foundation supports children’s charities , enabling children with chronic illnesses or disadvantaged youth to enrich their lives by expanding access to programming. The YBF has partnered with Centennial for several years and is currently supporting the Early Intervention program through partial funding of our Occupational Therapy services. These services are crucial in ensuring that our children develop skills and their parents are educated and connected to other agencies and services in the community.
In addition, The PQR Foundation, The Clark Family Foundation, The George Lunan Foundation and many others invest in the lives of these children annually allowing them to grow and flourish with the educated support of their families.
Research clearly shows that early intervention provides enormous benefits to children who have developmental disabilities. The families of newborns and young children with developmental delays benefit as well from the personalized care and attention they receive at a time that is very challenging. Often the early interventionists are the ‘touchstones’ for emotional support and for information on community services available to them.In the words of a parent: “You gave us hope”.
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
"Elementary schools have far lower average ratios of students with special education needs per special education teacher than secondary schools, 26:1 in elementary schools versus 77:1 in secondary schools. The Province’s new funding model, being phased in over four years, is intended to recognize current differences among boards and considers a range of demographic factors that influence a child’s learning, including parental education, median income, unemployment, and length of time in Canada. Under the changes, the TDSB lost $7.3M in special education funding." (Toronto's Vital Signs ®, 2014)
In providing support, education and access to programs for children with special needs across the GTA, regardless of socio-economic status, we are addressing the issues of inclusion, accessibility and opportunity for all. All of these children are given opportunities that provide them the best starts possible in life.
M. was almost 3 years old, recently diagnosed with autism, when he was introduced to our Early Intervention team. He was extremely active…running, jumping, climbing and screaming. It was impossible for his parents to connect or communicate with him. They could not “reach him”.On the day that our Early Interventionist and Occupational Therapist walked into their home, M. was running up and down the halls, screaming, non-stop.They stated they had “never seen a more active child” and “he appeared to be crawling out of his skin”.The implications are enormous: he could not calm to eat, play, sleep or communicate.The Occupational Therapist ran with him, jumped with him , gave him a bear hug and began to give “deep compressions” into his joints and brush his skin with a soft plastic brush. In the words of the Therapist :”He melted into my arms…and fell asleep”.In the words of M’s parents : “You gave us hope”. It was the day that changed their lives.
This was the beginning of the work with our Early Intervention Team. M. has learned to play functionally with a toy for the first time ever! The stage is set for him to begin to communicate, to play , to learn and to become part of our world.
What You Can Do
Activities a donation will support
Financial support will allow us to continue to meet the needs of these children and families by
1. teaching strategies which will help the children to develop and function as independently as possible
2. assist the children with feeding , seating, motor and sensory concerns so they are able to reach milestones such as crawling, standing and processing information
3.funding the Early Intervention Program ,bridging the gap between what government funding pays for and the growing demand and need for service ( waiting lists for help in some areas are up to 6 months).
4. supporting our need for a larger, central and more accessible building in an area with high family density and easier access and egress.
5. allowing us to to develop and fund a toddler's program to bridge the learning gap from our Early Intervention Program to admission to pre-school
6. creating a family assistance fund to support those families with special needs children in high needs ,low income and heavily new immigrant nneighborhoods , so that no child is left behind due to poverty.
Grants to these programs will change the lives and futures of children with special needs by:
- offering assistance to families through our Early Intervention services, which include, critically, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy
- offering specific strategies to be implemented daily by families , caregivers , teachers to assist with a variety of concerns such as feeding, seating, motor skill development through our trained Therapists and Interventionists
- broadening the range of individuals providing quality services to these children through education in the community (health care workers, childcare providers, community centre staff)
- providing emotional support and guidance to families of these children, a key role we play in ensuring the best start possible and the brightest future for these children