Building Strong Communities

In Ontario – like other parts of the world – there is a strong relationship between the education of parents, community support systems and the well-being of children. For instance, child care, early education programs, parenting programs, employment supports and adult literacy and essential skills training all play a pivotal role in the lives of families by fostering children’s development while allowing both parents to work. It has been shown through research that children of parents who have had better access to training have high reading skills and put more effort into their education – making them more likely to enroll in post-secondary education and be more successful over time. There are also strong correlations between low levels of education and specific social outcomes, such as individual health, the likelihood of incarceration and substance abuse. It is critically important, then, for communities to mobilize their citizens and resources to find creative and effective ways to address challenges facing their children and families. Essential Skills Ontario researches ways public policy and communities can strengthen families’ education, literacy and essential skills levels and economic security.

Why is it important to build strong communities?

  • Educational attainment is linked to economic success and quality of life. An individuals’ educational success is a driving force behind a better, healthier life.
  • The skills of parents affect the skills of children. Research shows children have a better chance of becoming fully literate adults if reading is encouraged in the home.
  • Stronger literacy and essential skills make for more engaged citizens. Literacy and essential skills have a direct impact on civic engagement: the stronger the citizens, the more adept our communities are to changing needs of society.
  • Poor literacy and essential skills can affect health. In order to find, process and understand basic health information and services required to make appropriate health decisions, adults must have adequate knowledge of health and wellness matters.

Essential Skills Ontario Initiatives

Strengthening Rural Canada/Renforcer les communautés rurales du Canada

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program, as well as in part by the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-18: Education, Immigration and Communities, Essential Skills Ontario, along with its partners, Decoda Literacy Solutions in British Columbia, Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador, the Saskatchewan Literacy Network and Réseau pour le développement de l’alphabétisme et des compétences (RESDAC), is working on an exciting new three year initiative that will work closely with 11 remote and rural communities in four provinces – including at least three francophone communities. The initiative aims to determine if local strategies for skills development can lead to economic growth and community resiliency by building a community’s human and social capital.

Collaborative Opportunities Project, 2012-2013

Working together with First Work and ONESTEP, this project, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, will produce a strategic roadmap for how the three organizations and their membership can better work together in order to apprise stakeholders of client needs, service gaps and the effectiveness of services in order to better inform policy and programming decisions.

Stronger Together: Toward More Literate Communities, 2012

This project recognizes the importance of a society of fostering environments that expect, encourage and support literacy – and provides a strong impetus for thinking strategically about how we can support educational opportunities for children and parents.

Partnership Framework for Integrated Family Literacy Planning, 2010

This report presents the preliminary findings for the research component of the Partnership Framework for Integrated Family Literacy Planning project.


Integrated Family Literacy Programming in Action, 2008

This report explores models of intergenerational family literacy programming that address the literacy needs of parents, grandparents and caregivers and provides them with the necessary guidance and knowledge to better support their children’s literacy development, and in some cases upgrade their own literacy skills.

Further Reading

Charles E. Pascale: With our Best Future in Mind – Implementing Early Learning in Ontario
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: Indicators of Well-being in Canada
Canadian Council on Learning: Health Literacy in Canada – An Understanding