Ottawa Best Start Overview



Best Start is the Ontario government's early learning and care strategy. In Ottawa, Best Start in one of the overarching goals of Success By 6, a community-wide initiative designed to ensure that early childhood development is a priority in the Ottawa Community. Success By 6 works to increase the awareness in our community about the important impact of the first six years have on a child's life. It works collaborative amongst community partners to support the implementation of Best Start.




A collaborative community engaged in ensuring that ALL children have the best and most equitable opportunity to achieve their optimum development and full potential.


To plan, support the implementation and monitor Ottawa Best Start in accordance with the Provincial Implementation Guidelines for the Ottawa Best Start Leadership Committee


Best Start is a comprehensive, evidence-based early learning and care strategy designed to help give Ontario's children the best possible start in like and help them achieve success in school. The aim is to create a system of services that seamlessly support families and children from birth through their transition into grade one - right in their own communities. It focuses primarily on meeting children's and families' needs by strengthening, enhancing building on and integrating programs and services.


In Ottawa, it was decided that Best Start planning should build on existing planning already established in Ottawa. In 2006, the Best Start planning was integrated with the Success By 6 structure: as Success By 6 was deemed the most appropriate group to act as the Best Start planning Body. The work was undertaken as a part of the role of the Community Advisory Action Group, now named the Ottawa Network for Children - part of the Success By 6 structure. Success By 6 brings to Best Start the community leadership, established partnerships and integration needed to carry out its work.

The Success By 6 Ottawa Network for Children is comprised of community members representing children's services networks in Ottawa. This group works to plan and develop strategies to enhance services for children and seeks to establish a comprehensive system of services this will support families with children prenatal to 6 years of age. The scope will encompass the full spectrum of services for this age range, including health, education, social supports, licensed childcare, and other children's services.


Best Start is community-driven, therefore it may look different in different communities (e.g. rural, urban, Francophone and Aboriginal). With guidance from the province, Ottawa will decide how best to organize and integrate services to meet its population's needs. The Ottawa community has enthusiastically embraced the approach and service philosophy behind the provincial Best Start strategy and developed a local vision that aspires to create a collaborative community engaged in ensuring that ALL children have the best and most equitable opportunity to achieve their full potential.


  • An expansion of affordable and quality child care, focused on children in JK & SK with moderate expansion for children 0-4 years.  
  • Ottawa's initial target increase of 395 new licensed spaces was well surpassed with a total of 788 new licensed spaces created in non-profit child care agencies. 400 of the 788 new licensed spaces are subsidized spaces


  • Three demonstration communities were established to accelerate the implementation of the full Best Start vision (District of Timiskaming, rural Lambton and Chatham-Kent and Hamilton East)
  • On January 1, 2007 a new model determining eligibility for subsidized child care based on income was introduced.
  • Wage improvement for early childhood educators in the regulated sector were introduced and the College of Early Childhood Educators was established
  • Close to 22,000 new licensed childcare spaces are now available to Ontario families


The focus is to work with community partners to develop a system of services that seamlessly supports families and children right in their own communities. All existing organizations that provide services for children from the prenatal stage through Grade 1 are asked to share their expertise and plan together.

The community is asked to align planning processes and delivery models by strengthening, enhancing, building on and integrating programs and services so as to maximize the benefits of collaborative planning. The beneficiaries are the children and their families.

"System integration in an ongoing process whereby service providers and stakeholders engage in progressively greater degrees of joint service activity (across sectors) along an integration continuum to provide families with better access to services locally" (Building on the Foundation - Moving Forward, Nov 15, 2006, MCYS).

The foundations for planning at the neighbourhood level have been established, community planning tables have been created and will bring together service providers to a shared table to plan for an integrated system of services for children aged 0-6 within a planning area. The planning areas are rationalized to acknowledge natural  neighbourhoods in Ottawa.

System integration is moving forward through the establishment of these community planning tables. The planning tables will develop linkages, increase awareness of services, foster information sharing and share best practices as part of their work. Using community development principles, the goal is to build a system integration framework for community planning, where neighbourhood hub locations and service integration will be established and sustainable.

Supporting documents

Best Start Implementation Planning Guide
Adobe Acrobat Document 559.2 KB
Best Start Community Plan (2007-2008).pd
Adobe Acrobat Document 301.5 KB
Life Cycle of Best Start and of the Eval
Adobe Acrobat Document 62.1 KB
Addendum to the Best Start Implementatio
Adobe Acrobat Document 475.7 KB
Ottawa BS Organizational Chart (May 2009
Adobe Acrobat Document 33.3 KB
Best Start Ontario Hub Diagram.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 53.2 KB