Annual Report


Empowered Kids Ontario-Enfants Avenir Ontario is a business name used by the Ontario Association of Children’s Rehabilitation Services



Our numbers from this past fiscal year signify not only our collective accomplishments, but also the innovation and dedication of Ontario’s extraordinary child development and rehabilitation sector. Take a moment to celebrate these remarkable. accomplishments as we move forward together, supporting kids with disabilities and their families to live their best lives.

Dear Colleagues,

We began the year with a renewed enthusiasm and vision for the opportunities to deliver for Ontario kids with disabilities and their families. With an election on the horizon, this year ushered in more opportunity to meet the mark as we continued our work to champion and care for kids with disabilities and their families to live their best lives.
EKO members provided service to more than 120,000 kids at home, at school and in the community – an extraordinary achievement considering the challenges of the pandemic. While there is good news that more and more kids are receiving service, wait lists continue to grow both for assessment and for service.

This health crisis has forced us all to change gears and reorganize. Some of our biggest wins—beyond innovations that bring growing numbers of kids and families into service—have been EKO’s growing membership that better represents the breadth of child development, our engagement with members and partners, and our work to build capacity in Ontario’s child development sector.

We’ve also advanced our mission of integrating diversity, equity and inclusion in our work. Especially as the pandemic has exacerbated inequality in numerous ways, we are dedicated to the success of SmartStart Hubs, which provide a clear entry point for all families with a focus on those who face the greatest barriers to success and well-being. Moving forward we will continue to advocate for data-driven policies and programs that improve the well-being and prospects for all kids with disabilities.

In this report we are excited to share our accomplishments of the past year. We are grateful to our members and partners for continuing to meet the moment for Ontario kids with disabilities and their families.


Tom Walters



Jennifer Churchill



Capacity Building for Kids with Disabilities and their Families

The New OAP

With support from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, EKO completed a second phase of the Building Capacity program, offered to more than 40 organizations, including the growing number of EKO members.


Participants in Building Capacity programs

= 500

increase of


from Phase 1


Events average



No fewer than 30 organizations represented at each session




staff received individual advice and a customized report to support their Fee for Service efforts


Building Capacity microsite total page views:


average 2,109.5/quarter or 703/month

Average engagement time ranges from 3m56s to 15m48s


Online Resource Library:


tools and materials


Building Capacity Adds a Research Component

EKO, together with the McMaster University MacArt team led by Dr. Stelios Georgiades and Dr. Elyse Rosa, is undertaking an external evaluation of virtual care and the OAP Foundational Family Services offered by program participants across Ontario. The team is evaluating how the delivery and outcomes of virtual care—including the introduction of Foundational Family Services—can inform future provision of services for children and their families.

Introducing SmartStart Hubs

This spring Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Merrilee Fullerton introduced SmartStart Hubs—a first step toward greater integration in the child development services system, designed to deliver consistent provincial approaches to early identification of children’s strengths and needs, and connections to local services. Ontario’s 22 SmartStart Hubs are the province’s Children’s Treatment Centres and Surrey Place—all EKO members. Each SmartStart Hub brings together local professionals, ensuring seamless connections to local services—including those provided by other EKO members who are SmartStart Hub partners.
To enable a provincial approach to introduction of SmartStart Hubs, EKO organized and administers working groups dedicated to key implementation requirements, including learning programs that support continual development for staff of SmartStart Hub and partner agencies. A focus of learning is developing cultural competence – a process rather than an end point. Programs led by SMILE Canada, Sawubona Africentric Circle of Support, and the Asé Community Foundation, have already been introduced for sector leaders, and for EKO members’ clinicians and staff.



EKO is the voice of Ontario’s publicly supported child development and rehabilitation sector—the centres that help kids with disabilities and their families live their best lives. We promote investments, policies and programs based on the best research and thought leadership available, from sources around the world. We look for smart, innovative approaches to care at home, in schools and in communities across the province. Among EKO priority activities this year:

The association contributed feedback to the Ontario K-12 Education Standards and the Government of Canada’s Disability Inclusion Plan.

As a result of advocacy by the Children’s Health Coalition, Ontario Health established its Children’s COVID Response and Recovery table. Access to child development and rehabilitation services is included among the priorities for children’s healthcare.

Make Kids Count

The COVID pandemic has had profound impacts on the health, development and well-being of Ontario’s 2.3 million kids.

Recognizing the interconnected nature of children’s physical, developmental, and mental health and well-being, the Children’s Health Coalition developed an action plan for COVID recovery. Make Kids Count provides recommendations and implementation advice on how Ontario can ensure the pediatric system is equipped to manage current and projected increases in demand through the pandemic, while laying foundations for recovery.


The COVID Pandemic and COVID Recovery

Partnership with Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA)

In August 2021, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services issued a directive stipulating that clients and staff, contractors, students and volunteers in settings where the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 is higher, must be subject to a vaccination policy.

To assist EKO members in meeting these requirements on deadline, EKO contracted the OPHA to develop the government mandated education program, satisfying the directive’s requirements and address issues specific to the demographics represented by EKO members’ staff.

EKO member agencies offered this course to employees 113 employees completed the course 72 responded to post-course survey

OPHA and EKO, with input from EKO members, developed English and French language resources about the vaccine for kids age 5+ To support clinician conversations with families For parents and caregivers

Children’s Health Coalition

EKO is a founding member of the Children’s Health Coalition, a collective of eight leading Ontario children’s health organizations together with: CHEO, Children’s Hospital - London Health Sciences Centre, Children’s Mental Health Ontario, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Kids Health Alliance, McMaster Children’s Hospital and SickKids. This group represents expertise in pediatric health care and research; rehabilitation; mental health services like targeted prevention, early intervention, short- and long-term counselling and therapy, addictions services, intensive services and acute care; physical, cognitive and communication disabilities; as well as emergency and complex care. Together Children’s Health Coalition members deliver every kind of care a child could need – and see how the elements of care can work together to support kids if we look at the entire system as a whole, and better support kids and their families no matter what challenges they are facing.

As Ontario manages the COVID pandemic and emerges from it, the Children’s Health Coalition serves as a trusted partner.


The Parent Homework Campaign

Together, the Children’s Health Coalition members developed and ran a multi-media campaign with the goal of providing families and caregivers with trusted information about COVID-19 vaccination for children.


Total website users: 32K


Page views





Vaccine facts:


About us:




clicks to the Booking Vaccination link



clicks to the Talk to a Tutor Link











Research and Innovation

EKO provided support for research proposals and partnership opportunities, including with scientists at:

CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research

Bloorview Research Institute

University of Sherbrooke

McMaster University

EKO joined the research team working on a paper published June 1, 2022 in the Journal of Disability and Rehabilitation. The study aimed to synthesize knowledge about multi-criteria decision analysis methods for supporting rehabilitation service design and delivery systems. These methods are promising for better understanding client and family preferences and priorities, and further to use these methods in shared decision making.

The EKO CEO serves on the research team for a CIHR-funded Training Intervention and Program of Support IPS project. This pan-Canadian program targets allied health professional therapists to enhance family centered pediatric telehealth rehabilitation services delivered to parents of children up to 12 years of age with, or at risk of, disability.



EKO focuses on collaboration, and the association’s vision. This generates an increasingly broad group of stakeholders — key to building and sustaining EKO’s growing capacity and social impact. This year we’ve seen our impact progress in a variety of ways.

EKO CEO appointed to Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health Governing Council

EKO mobilized members in response to a request from the child development and inclusion organizations in BC to inform their provincial collaboration strategy

EKO CEO presented at the Children’s Healthcare Canada national conference on a panel discussing funding advocacy. Children’s Healthcare Canada has invited our CEO to return in 2022 for the session Leadership on Tap

Programs and Inquiries


EKO is Social

This year we saw consistent growth across all social media platforms:


312,800 total impressions

Steady month-over-month growth, resulting in 250 new followers (20.8 per month)


17,396 total impressions

Steady month-over-month growth, resulting in 126 new followers (10.5 per month)

EKO also expanded our social media presence with accounts on LinkedIn and Instagram, testing what resonates with our audience of member agencies, families and other health-oriented organizations, and garnering:

More than 100 followers organically




EKO now has 30 members

No attrition in membership in 2021-2022

EKO’s membership expansion and responsible investment strategy created the opportunity to introduce new member services and benefits, and grow our staff—bringing on board Wendy Miller, EKO’s Director, Policy and Engagement.

EKO Scholarship Program

With input from EKO Scholars, the association updated the program with a contemporary EDI lens:

4 former EKO Scholars were engaged as advisors

2 former EKO Scholars joined the Review Committee

1 parent of a former EKO Scholar joined the Review Committee

EKO Leadershift 2022

EKO’s Leadership Council has a long history in the association. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and two very unusual and demanding years, 2022 became a good time to once again meet in person. Despite advances in technology, research shows there is no substitute for meeting face-to-face. More than eight in ten executives prefer in-person meetings to virtual contact, noting they create space for timely business decisions and foster more complex strategic thinking. EKO Leadershift 2022 is on track to be a regular association benefit.

All EKO members registered for this two-day program

Survey says: The forum received high marks, along with encouragement to make this an annual event

Meet our 5 2022 EKO Scholars


Daniella Altieri


Victoria Chen


Daniel Gangmin Lee


Maxx LeMoine


Sydney Melindy


Financial Performance

Statement of Operations and Changes in Net Assets Year ended March 31

2022 2021
Restricted Contributions $ $
Capacity Building and Research 1,150,000 50,000
CRISP 896,932 680,907
Scholarships 15,000 10,311
Project Private Delivery 302,948
2,061,932 1,044,166
Restricted Expenses
Capacity Building and Research 1,150,000 50,000
CRISP 896,932 680,907
Scholarships 15,000 10,311
Project Private Delivery 302,948
2,061,932 1,044,166
Excess restricted revenue over restricted expenses
Unrestricted Revenue
Membership Fees  893,573 715,279
Other revenue 45,582
Interest Income 7,993 5,436
Donations 497 24
Annual conference  7,575
947,645 728,314
Unrestricted Expenses
Salaries and benefits 491,539 461,224
Professional Fees 59,518 60,005
Project expense 55,717 13,505
Marketing and communications 29,881 27,095
Office 22,462 13,888
Board 14,571 21,200
Rent 11,433 11,433
Professional Development 6,895 17,868
Travel 2,801 896
Committees 958 10,908
Amortization 152 158
Special projects 43,182
Annual conference (1,292)
695,927 690,381
Excess of unrestricted revenue over unrestricted expenses 251,718 48,244
Operating fund balance, beginning of year 746,419 698,175
Operating fund balance, end of year 998,137 746,419