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Father Involvement Initiative - Ontario Network

The Father Involvement Initiative – Ontario Network (FII-ON) is a broad-based coalition of individuals and orgainizations that have come together to discuss, learn about, and encourage the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children. The members of the network share the belief that the active involvement of caring, committed and responsible fathers promotes the healthy devlopment of children. In pursuing its ultimate goal of being a major change agent in the collective responsibility of involving fathers in the development of resilient children, the FII-ON seeks to create partnerships among fathers, service providers, community groups, networks, governments, academics, business leaders and the media in order to:

  • Increase knowledge and awareness about the importance of father involvement in healthy child development.

  • Educate and support fathers in their role as positive contributors in shaping the lives of their children.

  • Encourage the creation of networks aimed at concerted action enabling the development of healthy public and workplace policies which support father involvement.

  • Support the FII mobilization process and expansion of the father involvement movement at the local, provincial, and national levels.

Contact: Father Involvement Initiative – Ontario Network (FII-ON) Secretariat, c/o Connections, 7270 County Road 29, Suite 4, RR#1 Carleton Place, ON, K7C 3P1; Tel 613.257.2779; Email fii-on@cfii.ca Website: http://www.cfii.ca


Folic Acid

Folic Acid is a B vitamin required for a healthy body. Folic acid also helps to prevent birth defects called neural tube defects (NTDs) , such as spina bifida (failure of closure of a portion of the spinal canal) and anencephaly (failure of development of the brain).

Spina bifida and other NTDs occur between the third and fourth week of fetal development, before most women even know they are pregnant.

Health Canada recommends all women of child bearing age should consume folic acid every day in order to prevent NTDs.

Women should take 0.4 milligrams of folic acid daily prior to conception and through the first four weeks of pregnancy. Scientific research confirms that folic acid taken before getting pregnant reduces the occurrence of spina bifida by up to 50 percent.

Contact: The Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Canada, 220-388 Donald Street, Winnipeg MB, R3B 2J4, Tel 1.800.565.9488  Fax  204.957.1794  Email spinab@mts.net


Food Basket

This is a system to link low income families with local producers in a collective buying club.

Contact:  Better Beginnings Tel 613.542.2835 or Good Food Box Tel 613.530.2239


Fredericton High School Student Parent Program

The Fredericton High School Student Parent Program is a stay-in-school initiative to help student parents continue their education or re-enter the educational system. It is now in its seventh year of operation. The program has two main components: a licensed day care centre and learning sessions which provide information, skills, and support to student parents. The program also offers counselling and a peer support group. Student parents who use the day care centre are required to take a credit course in parenting. The course helps students meet the challenge of being a parent by focusing on topics such as methods of effective discipline, child safety, nutrition, self-esteem, parenting and stress. The course is also open to other students (parents or non-parents) in the school.

Contact: Principal, Fredericton High School, 300 Priestman Street, Fredericton, NB E3B 6J8, Tel  506.453.5830

Source for this description: National Crime Prevention Council, Promoting Positive Outcomes in Youth Twelve to Eighteen Years Old, 1997


Girl Power

The Ottawa-based POWER Camp is a program that addresses the self-esteem of young women. Founded in 1995 by three University of Ottawa students, POWER Camp is designed exclusively for young women between the ages of 11 and 15. It provides an empowering space for young women where activities are structured around four main themes: community development, health, life skills, and personal development. Campers decide the specific daily projects, which can include exploring media images of men and women, bicycle repair, sports and visual arts. The purpose of these projects is to encourage young women to talk about experiences and to participate in activities they otherwise would not.


Great Lakes Health Effects Program

The Great Lakes Health Effects Program's (GLHEP) mission is to protect human health in the Great Lakes basin from the effects of exposure to environmental contaminants.  GLHEP is a resource for people living and working in the Great Lakes basin to address health and environmental issues. It applies an ecosystem approach to human health, combines the latest science with informed action and works in partnership with public groups, communities and agencies.

Contact: Mary Hegan,  Environmental Health Effects Division, Health Canada, Main Building, Tunney's Pasture, 0301 A1, Ottawa, ON  K1A 0K9  Tel  613.952.8117  Fax  613.954.7612  Email   Mary_Hegan@INET.hwc.ca


Growing Together

This project was designed to improve the health, well-being and development of infants, young children and their families who are faced with multiple problems. An intervention program, Growing Together offers 20 services for individuals, family therapy, 14 group programs, and seven community approaches. Program staff visit families after a baby is born and assesses their needs and level of risk. Using this information, families are offered a variety of services ranging from health promotion to parent-infant therapy to less intensive family support and a variety of group and community development activities.

Project staff are building a partnership with the community that hopes to optimize the attachments, health, cognitive ability, language and social skills, school readiness, adjustment and competence of the community’s children from birth to age five. They are also attempting to meet the emotional and therapeutic needs of parents and families, and to help parents use social services better and to build a sense of community.

Contact: GUHD Coordinator, Family Service Association, 2 Carlton Street, Toronto, ON M5B 1J3, Tel 416.586.9777 ext. 224 Fax 416.586.0031 Email guhd@web.net


Growing Up Healthy Downtown

The Growing Up Healthy Downtown (GUHD) partnership consists of eight multi-service organizations serving the communities of families with children up to six years of age in downtown Toronto. The programs respond to local issues and respects cultural diversity. Families work with a family support worker at their GUHD agency to plan, implement and evaluate programs and community development activities.

GUHD strives to:

  • Expand programs and services for families with young children.
  • Enable parents to build new friendships and help each other out.
  • Provide opportunities for parents to become active on issues they care about.
  • Promote the use of community resources for parents.

Activities and programs include:

  • parent relief programs
  • recreation for parents and young children
  • parent/child drop-ins
  • resource libraries
  • community kitchens for meals and baby food
  • good food box programs and food buying clubs
  • support groups and educational workshops
  • community development
  • individual support and referral
  • social action.

Funding for GUHD is provided by Health Canada, Community Action Program for Children.

Contact: Karen Serwonka, GUHD Coordinator, Tel  416.586.9777 ext 224


Guidelines for Interagency Collaboration

This document provides guidelines for school principals and social agencies on how and why to initiate community partnership. It is available on the Sparrow Lake Alliance website.


Hawaii Healthy Start

The Hawaii Healthy Start program started in 1985 as a demonstration project in one very high risk community to lower the rates of child abuse and neglect for children aged four or less. It has evolved into a state-wide program designed to promote positive parenting, enhance parent/child interaction, improve child health and development, prevent child abuse and neglect, link all families to a primary health care provider, and assure optimal use of community resources.

Early identification workers review hospital admissions to locate families in target areas, and screen them using the Family Stress Checklist (Kempe). Ninety-five percent of families rated high risk agreed to be visited.

Family support workers meet with the mothers before they leave the hospital and visit them weekly for about one year, then on a monthly basis, and finally four times a year until the child turns five.

The visits are used to build a trusting relationship and serves to provide child development information, to improve parenting skills, to model child/parent interaction, to link the family to a primary health care provider and to refer the family to other social services.

In 1992, families which were screened, assessed and served from July 1987 until July 1991, were compared to confirmed child abuse and neglect cases and to other homevisiting programs. Among the 2,193 well profiled high risk families in the program, there was no abuse in 99.2 percent of those families served. The rate of abuse in the high risk families that did receive service was half the state average and less than those in families that were rated low risk at birth. There was no further abuse in any of the families already known to child protection services when first assessed by the program. Neglect in program families was half of that of families involved with less intensive visiting programs.

Contact: Program Coordinator, Healthy Start, Maternal & Child Health Branch, 1600 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 600, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96814, Tel 808.946.4771 Fax 808.942.2160


Healthy Babies, Healthy Children

In 1997, the Ontario government began a province-wide initiative aimed at improving children's chances in early life. The Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program identifies children from birth to six years of age who are at risk for poor social, emotional, cognitive and physical health, and intervenes to help those children get a better start in life.

A unique aspect of the program is the Lay Home Visitors. When hospital staff identify a newborn as being at risk, they refer the parents to the program. Those who wish to participate receive the services of a trained parent, supervised by a health or social services professional, who provides advice and emotional support to help improve parenting skills.

The province expects that about 25 percent or 37,500 of the approximately 150,000 babies born each year in Ontario will be referred to public health units. Of these, an estimated 9,000 will require a Lay Home Visitor.

Contact: Website http://www.gov.on.ca/CSS/page/brochure/hbabies.html


The Industry-Education Council

In 1980, citizens in Hamilton, Ontario recognized the need to help youth prepare for the world of work by founding Canada’s first Industry-Education Council (IEC), a community-based organization that brought together decision-makers from education, business, government and civic groups. The IEC complements the work of schools by providing elementary students and adolescents with early exposure to career options and positive role models from the community.

Grade 8 Career Days is a program offered in cooperation with Hamilton’s Downtown Rotary Club. Guest speakers talk to students and teachers about workplace issues. The IEC also helps with an Inner City Mentoring program, created by a partnership that includes the Big Brothers Association of Burlington and Hamilton-Wentworth, the Bank of Montreal and two local school boards. To date, 170 inner-city school children have been paired with screened and trained volunteers from the corporate sector. The mentors influence self-esteem by encouraging their students to think positively about their futures.

Contact: P.O. Box 57451, Jackson Station, Hamilton, ON, L8P 4X3, Tel 888.698.4888 or 905.529.4483 Fax 905.529.5525 Email iec@icom.ca   Website http://www.icom.ca/~iec/iec/abtusnf.htm

Source for this description: Canada’s Children 1996.


International Children's Institute

The International Children's Institute, which is based in Montreal, Quebec has developed extensive curricula and guides for teachers relating to supporting immigrant and refugee children.

Contact: Madeline Aksich, P.O. Box 218, 1217 Greene Avenue, Montreal, QC, H3Z 2T2.


Inner City Foster Parents Project

The purpose of the project is to ensure that children in foster care remain within their own ethnic, cultural, geographical and economic environment. Its two major goals are to recruit potential caregivers, especially First Nations families from within the downtown and east area of Vancouver; and to provide support to foster parents and the children in their care. A Ministry of Children and Family Services social worker works with the coordinator of the project at the Vancouver Native Health Society’s office.

Contact: Coordinator, Inner City Foster Parents Project, 449 East Hastings St., Vancouver, BC V6A 1P5, Tel  604.254.9949

Source for this description: National Crime Prevention Council, Preventing Crime by Investing in Families and Communities. Promoting Positive Outcomes in Youth Twelve to Eighteen Years Old, May 1997.


Investing in Children

Investing in Children is a London, Ontario not-for-profit organization that encourages increased investments in children of all ages. It is a grass-roots initiative founded by civic-minded individuals dedicated to the long-term health and prosperity of the London community. It plays a leadership role in the community to facilitate collaborative efforts among all community sectors to improve opportunities for all children and their families in support of growth, development, learning and future success. The organization sponsors a number of programs including Kids Count, It Starts With Kids, and the Special Friends of Children Awards.

Kids Count provides leadership development opportunities through an annual camp and conference for grade six to eight students, youth groups, a choir, and a Kids Power conference for grade five students. It partners with the Canadian Living Foundation to facilitate and support schools and community groups to develop breakfast/snack programs. It also supports neighbourhood events and a number of literacy activities.

The It Starts With Kids program recognizes child and family-friendly businesses and workplaces with awards of distinction as part of the Special Friends of Children Awards. This awards program recognizes individuals and/or organizations that have made a significant contribution to the growth, health and well-being of children through five categories: whole-community contributions, individual-help contributions, excellent mentor, outstanding business contributions and lifetime contributions.

Contact: Investing in Children, 533 Clarence Street, Suite 109, London, ON, N6A 3N1 Tel 519.433.8996 Email info@investinginchildren.on.ca Website http://www.investinginchildren.on.ca


Joe Duquette High School (The Cultural Program at)

The goal of the Cultural Program is to help Aboriginal students and elders learn about each other, to provide students with an opportunity to learn traditional crafts, skills, and cultural teachings, and to create a dance troupe. Grade eleven students help the elders teach skills and traditional ways to grade nine students in the school. Peer teachers are selected on the basis of the knowledge and experience gained through overcoming challenging life circumstances. Elders provide supervision for both peer educators and learners and work with the school principal to provide any needed support.

Contact: Kevin Pilon, Joe Duquette High School, 919 Broadway Avenue, Saskatoon, SK S7N 1B8, Tel  306.668.7490

Source for this description: National Crime Prevention Council, Preventing Crime by Investing in Families and Communities. Promoting Positive Outcomes in Youth Twelve to Eighteen Years Old, May 1997.


Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement (JA) is a non-profit international organization supported by businesses and individuals.

JA offers many programs that bring business and economic education to thousands of young people in communities across Canada. The purpose is to inspire and educate young Canadians to value free enterprise, to understand business and economics, and to develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

This is accomplished through volunteer role models from the local community with diverse backgrounds who support all programs and experience-based learning.

Contact: 1 Westside Dr., Toronto,ON, M9C 1B2, Tel 416.622.4602 or 1.800.265.0699 Fax 416.622.6861 Website http://www.jacan.org


KIDS COUNT (See Investing in Children)



KidSafe is a program in Vancouver, B.C., that uses schools as safe havens for children during summer, winter and spring vacation breaks. In its fifth year in 1998, the program is sustained by an ongoing fundraising effort that draws individual, government, foundation and corporate sponsors. The program counts four schools serving 300 children between the ages of five and 13. The program provides breakfast, lunch and snacks, recreational programs, outings and a reading program. A community kitchen program has also started that runs year-round.

KidSafe is being formally evaluated by the federal Department of Justice, which is looking at preventing crime through social development. Informally, principals and teachers have already seen a marked difference in children who used to get anxious when holidays and breaks approached and they lost their structured days, safe environment and worried about lack of regular meals. Children seem to be making much smoother transitions back to school after breaks.


Kids In Action

This project was implemented by the Lawrence Heights Community Health Centre and the University of Toronto Department of Behavioural Science. The project was developed as an alternative to traditional health promotion activities for children, which typically consist of pre-packaged interventions based on adult assumptions about the needs of young people.

A fourth grade class at Flemington Public School was chosen for the project and a multi-staged process was used to identify the health priorities in their school and neighbourhood. The children decided that drug use was their main health concern.

After researching why older kids used and sold drugs and how they could help prevent drug use, the children undertook a number of activities. They decided to let the community know how they felt about drugs and drug dealers through posters and a video of rap dances, songs and skits. Their activities were featured on a local television program and the children organized an open house for community members.

Contact: Lawrence Heights Community Health Centre, 12 Flemington Road, Toronto, ON, Tel 416.787.1672  Fax  416. 787.3761


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