Family Strengthening Programs

Organization Sponsor: York Region Community Services and Housing Department

Organization Partner: York Region Health Services Department


Program Description

Family Strengthening Programs are a range of programs delivered to eligible families at no cost. They provide opportunities for parents and children to engage in the community. Families select the programs according to their need and interest.
! Family Strengthening programs are funded by York Region Community and Health Services Department and delivered by local municipal recreation departments and community agencies.
! The programs are detailed below.
Summer Day Camp
Established in 1999, this program provides children with access to summer
recreational programs offered by local municipal recreation departments.
2006 Participants: 502
Eligibility Criteria:
• Children of Ontario Works participants
Children of Social Housing residents
After School Programs in Social Housing Communities

Since 2003 providing a safe and positive after school environment which
promotes positive social, emotional and physical development to children
residing in 5 Social Housing sites in York Region.
2006 Participants: 412
Eligibility Criteria:
• Children 6-12 years of age residing in Social Housing sites
Youth Leadership Camp
Beginning in 2000, this program provides youth with an opportunity to attend
residential camps (Camp Rainbow or Hidden bay Leadership Camp), for one
week during the summer.
2006 Participants: 80
Eligibility Criteria:
• Youth 13 to 16 years age residing in a Social Housing community and/or
receiving Social Assistance
• Must have parental consent
Swim to Survive Initiative
York Region in partnership with the nine local municipal recreation
departments, local school boards and the Lifesaving Society launched the
“Swim to Survive” program in 2005. The program is offered at schools in
York Region, identified by School Boards as having a higher percentage of
students with families new to Canada and/or families with limited financial
resources. This initiative began in 2005 in response to an increase in the
number of child drownings.
“Swim to Survive” teaches children in Grade 3 about the inherent risks
associated with water, provides them with the skills necessary to survive an
unexpected fall into water and provides parents with important water
education information.
2006 Participants: 3,330
Positive Leisure Activities for Youth Program (PLAY)
Since spring 2004, subsidies have been available for children and youth to
attend recreation and sport programs such as swimming, dance lessons or
sport programs (one program per session) in spring, fall and winter. Programs
available are the same as those offered to the general public.
2006 Participants: 923
Eligibility Criteria:
• Children age 4 to 12 years (4-18 years as of fall 2007)
• Children of Ontario Works Participants
• Children of parents in receipt of Child Care Fee Assistance
• Children of parents residing in Social Housing

Funding Sources: 

York Region Community and Health Services Department
York Region Parks and Recreation Departments

Strategies For Sustainability: 

Working together to sustain and enhance the well being of individuals and
families today, for stronger communities tomorrow.
• The total population of York Region is 892,712
• Nine lower tier municipalities deliver local services such as Parks and
• A 2nd tier regional level of government delivers coordinated services in
all nine municipalities:
o Family and Children’s Services
o Housing Services
o Employment and Financial Assistance

Impact Of Program: 

6,000 children a year benefit from this program.

Evaluation Tools: 

Feedback from participants.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

Family Strengthening Programs are a range of programs delivered to eligible families at no cost. They provide opportunities for parents and children to engage in the community.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

Reaching out to families in need and making contact to encourage them to participate.

Length and Stage of Project: 

Some of these programs began in 1999 and a new one was added each year until 2004. They still operate today.

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