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Early Learning and Parenting

The Issue 

The GTA is the child poverty capital of Canada with more than one quarter of children living in low-income families.  Children growing up in low-income households lack access to experiences that have a lifelong impact on their learning, behaviour, and health.  This means that many young children in our region face barriers to accessing the assets and opportunities they need to reach their full potential.  The good news is that research has shown that when children who face barriers are provided with excellent early learning opportunities and parenting support, much of this disadvantage can be overcome. 


children live in low-income families across the city of Toronto


of families in Toronto can’t afford to pay childcare fees, which cost more than $20,000/year – on average


children are on the waitlist for subsidized childcare spaces in Toronto

How we help

United Way aims to close opportunity gaps caused by inequality and poverty by giving children opportunities in their early years that will provide a foundation for success in school and in the community. Our approach is to focus on programs in group or community settings, particularly those that strengthen bonds and interactions between children and their parents and caregivers. Programs will be designed to promote social interaction among children ages 0 to 4 years with peers and parents/caregivers.

Here’s how your local love reached families with babies and young children:

A mom and her two children with a teacher playing with colorful toys at Early Year Center


Children and families received support in early learning and parenting to provide children a foundation for success

Father and daughter eating sandwich together


Families improved their understanding and/or skills about child development and parenting

Two children painting at a table


Children received the early intervention supports needed to thrive in life.

August 28, 2019

Here’s just how much poverty can hold kids back

Poverty has serious repercussions for people of all ages. But for kids, it has particularly devastating effects. An alarming 17 per cent of Canadian children live in poverty. In Toronto, the rate is even higher.