What's New

29 July 2020

Empowered Kids Ontario to Expand Membership

Empowered Kids Ontario – Enfants Avenir Ontario (EKO) has made a monumental change today which will allow the association to expand membership to include all Ontario publicly supported and not for profit providers of child development and rehabilitation services, and also research groups from across Canada. EKO members approved the move at a virtual Special Members Meeting today, in agreement that not-for-profit organizations with similar mandates will promote intra-professional collaboration and strengthen the voice of Ontario’s child development sector. EKO members also approved a new membership category—associate membership, which will include non-voting members and focus on generating and sharing best practices.

There are now two categories of membership: Full and Associate.

“This is an historic and very important moment for EKO. Expanding membership is critical to ensure EKO represents the comprehensive range of child development and rehabilitation services, especially during a year that is already notable as Ontario works to build capacity to serve kids with autism and their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has on the one hand encouraged service innovations while also disproportionately impacting kids with disabilities and their families, magnifying the challenges families are facing,” says EKO Chair Penny Smiley. “These events demonstrate the incredible efforts of publicly funded organizations to go above and beyond to serve kids and families, demonstrating how important each organization is to their community, and at the same time unifying child development and rehabilitation providers across Ontario.”

“That’s how we envision Empowered Kids Ontario,” adds EKO CEO Jennifer Churchill. “Child development and rehabilitation professionals represented as one unified voice to advance the sector, collaborate, and share expertise so kids with disabilities and their families can live their best lives.”

EKO, which was founded in 1978, changed its name from the Ontario Association for Children’s Rehabilitation Services to Empowered Kids Ontario – Enfants Avenir Ontario in 2018. What began as the voice of core rehabilitation services for children and youth—physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy—has evolved as Ontario’s child development sector has advanced, and the suites of services available to kids with disabilities and their families continue to grow to meet the specific needs of communities across the province.

“This change was part of the overall strategic plan introduced in 2016,” notes Smiley. While EKO’s by-laws have been amended, work on the details of the expansion continues.

“The expectation is that we will be introducing new members very soon. Already there is interest in full membership from not-for-profit service organizations in Ontario, as well as research groups from Ontario and other provinces interested in associate membership,” says Churchill. “Ontario is a leader in child development and rehabilitation. Setting the stage for regular and close collaboration across the sector will help us tackle common challenges, drive advances and support consistent high quality as we respond to the needs of kids with disabilities and their families.”

EKO looks forward to welcoming new members. Information on Membership is found on the Member section of this website.