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On track - Supporting healthy child development and early identification in the early years: A reference guide for professionals in Ontario

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A Reference Guide for Professionals in Ontario
Best Start: Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre
Publication Date: 
18 Aug 2011


The On Track guide is an online reference guide for service providers working with children from 0 - 6 and their families. The objectives of the guide are to:

  • Support healthy development of all children within their own pace and context
  • Provide identification of indicators that may put a child at risk
  • List strategies to support children and those who work with and care for them
  • Assist service providers in connecting to local services for children.

The purpose of this guide is to provide professionals who work with young children and families with some indicators of healthy child development from birth to 6 years of age. These indicators come from the five domains: social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive and from other areas of development. If a child does not meet the expected milestones for his age range, further investigation is required, and a referral can be made to the appropriate specialist or program. In the past, a "wait and see" approach was often adopted due to the wide range of individuality in development. This approach resulted in children with developmental concerns being identified later and the loss of valuable time when brain development can be positively and fundamentally influenced.


The On Track guide is not to be used as an assessment tool, or to label or diagnose children. But early referrals can lead to early identification and early intervention by the appropriate professionals. In turn, this early intervention leads to more positive outcomes for children, such as less need for special education services, improved academic achievement, lower rates of grade retention, and higher rates of school completion. A "wait and see" approach is not an acceptable alternative, as a delay in support can translate into increasingly profound delays in a child's development.