Within the continuum of early years services and supports for children in Ontario, Infant and Child Development Services provide a range of prevention, early identification, and early intervention services and supports for families of infants and young children who have a developmental delay or who are at risk for delayed development. The delays in development typically arise because of established or biological risk factors, but may be compounded by co-existing psychosocial risks, such as an impoverished home environment, parenting problems, attachment issues or familial mental health disorders, which exacerbate the likelihood these children will not be ready to learn when they reach school-age.
The first Infant Development Programs in Ontario were established in 1974 by the Ministry of Community and Social Services (now Children and Youth Services). There are approximately 50 programs in Ontario, one in every county, district and regional municipality.
Programs serve children from birth to five years of age and are sponsored by a variety of community agencies. Although all infant and child development programs have the same purpose and goals for the families they serve, the manner in which these services are delivered has evolved in different directions across the 49 programs to meet the specific needs of each community and to complement the mix of other services available within that community.