History of Good Beginnings
Good Beginnings opened its doors on November 1, 1986. We began when a group of parents, and concerned community professionals, formed a non-profit corporation. St. David’s United Church was kind enough to step forward and offer us a temporary home to accommodate 32 preschool children. We determined that the best way to offer child care was on a not-for-profit basis.
Later that year, as we continued our search for a more permanent location, Woodstock and District Developmental Services (formerly WDAMR) approached us with a potential space in their segregated developmental preschool in Blossom Park School. There was space available to accommodate our child care program, and form a newly integrated program including children with special needs at Blossom Park. In the summer of 1987 we moved our program to Blossom Park where we were able to offer toddler care in addition to the preschoolers, and we hired our first Resource Teachers to work with the children with special needs.
That same year, the plans for the new Woodstock District Community Complex were beginning to take place. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity for a child care program to operate in a busy complex where people work and live. A campus of Fanshawe College would be included, as well as other interested groups such as the Woodstock Gymnastics Club, and of course the City of Woodstock, who owned the land, and planned to open a twin pad skating facility. We were successful in receiving a grant from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to work with the City and the Community Complex Board.
In September of 1989, in conjunction with the Oxford County Board of Education, we opened the county’s first before and after school programs. The following year we opened school aged programs with the Oxford County Roman Catholic Separate School Board.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the new centre at the Community Complex took place in April of 1990, and on January 14, 1991, we opened the doors for the beautiful new centre to accommodate children from birth to 6 years. This innovative “Hub-model” facility provided a variety of services under one roof, including a drop-in program and toy lending library operated by Oxford Community Child Care. The opening of this centre doubled the number of subsidized spaces and the spaces for children with special needs, and offered a much needed infant care program, as we maintained the centre at Blossom Park School. Children now had the benefit of participating in gymnastics, skating and music and movement programs at the complex.
The search then began for a new space for the program at Blossom Park, as the board of education was opening an Adult Education centre. We found temporary space at the Church of the Good Shepherd, and then finally commercial space at 729 Devonshire for toddlers and preschoolers.
In a joint venture with the Oxford County Board of Education, The Ministry of Education and The Ministry of Community and Social Services, we opened Algonquin Child Care Centre, Oxford’s first school-based child care centre in January of 1994. This offered families a “seamless day” for their children who could participate in the child care program in the morning, and attend kindergarten in the afternoon, without having to leave the building for other child care arrangements.
In the summer of 1996 we received a grant to hire a summer student, to offer an inclusive summer day camp program for children 6-12 years, at Fanshawe College. This program continues to thrive having been in various locations in the community, including Bethany Lutheran Church, The Salvation Army, Central and Algonquin schools.
As part of ministry-driven initiative, we reviewed the role of our Resource Teachers in 1998. We embarked on a joint venture with Tillsonburg Association for Community Living to provide a coordinated model of care. Beginning in 1999, A Child First- resource supports of Oxford was founded. Our Resource Consultants traveled to early learning and child care program throughout the county of Oxford providing supports to families and child care programs. Funding provided programs with the ability to hire Program Assistants, where necessary so that families were able to access programs in their own communities. A Family Network Coordinator was hired to link families together and provides support through a parent sharing group.
In 2004, we reviewed our curriculum and adopted the research-based HighScope approach as a means of offering an emergent curriculum for children. This exciting approach, which falls within the Ontario Early Learning Framework, fosters independent thinking, initiative and creativity in our children. It also offers a consistent and secure daily experience that promises the children interesting things to do, attention by their Educators to their interest and needs, and a sense of control over themselves and their environment. Their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical capacities develop quickly when they can use materials and their imagination freely in an environment that promotes investigation, decision-making, cooperation, persistence and problem-solving.
We continued to expand the before and after School Age programs, as required, to meet the needs of families. We currently operate 13 before and after school age programs in Oxford County. We work in partnership with the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board.
We were thrilled to secure space at Oxford Gardens Retirement Living Community, in order to relocate and expand our Oxford Gardens Child Care Centre. In September of 2008 we opened a lovely new centre. The centre is presently licensed for 73 children from birth to 6 years of age. We also participate in an intergenerational program, with the residents at Oxford Gardens.
In May of 2016 we merged with Parkside Child Care Centre in Ingersoll. Parkside has been in operation since 2004 and is presently located within St. Jude’s Catholic School where Good Beginnings offers a before and after School Age program.
We hope that Good Beginnings continues to thrive for many years into the future, developing or modifying its programs to meet the needs of families in Oxford County (some of us are now providing care to children who first attended Good Beginnings!).
We have had the opportunity to work with some wonderfully dedicated individuals who have devoted their life to providing the best possible early learning and child care experiences that children could have. We would like to say thank you to them, to those children and families we have had the pleasure to serve over the years and to our partners in the community.