Introduction Link
Appendix A
Background     • How to Use the On Track Guide     • Acknowledgements     • Disclaimer

On Track - Full in PDF

The On Track guide is a very large document. Consequently, it takes some time to download as a whole. You may find it easier to download each section. The PDF versions for each section are accessible at the beginning of each of the online sections.
On Track - Section 1 in PDF


  • The development of the On Track guide was guided by the principles that all children:
    • Develop at their own pace
    • Develop within the context of their families and communities.
  • The On Track guide uses a strength-based, holistic approach and provides a tool to support:
    • The healthy development of all children within their own pace and context
    • Early identification of indicators that may put a child at risk
    • Strategies to support children and those who work with and care for them as they access additional services, further assessment and interventions
How to Use the On Track Guide

The On Track guide is not to be used as an assessment tool, or to label or diagnose children. But early referrals can lead to early identification and early intervention by the appropriate professionals. In turn, this early intervention leads to more positive outcomes for children, such as less need for special education services, improved academic achievement, lower rates of grade retention, and higher rates of school completion. A “wait and see” approach is not an acceptable alternative, as a delay in support can translate into increasingly profound delays in a child’s development.

What to expect in the On Track Guide

The On Track Guide aims to create a culture, focused on enhancing and supporting the healthy development of children. It provides information and tools to assist each professional in his observation of the child. It encourages professionals to connect children and their families to community resources and, if needed, to appropriate services. The guide assists professionals to make sure children stay on track in their development even when risk factors are present.


The On Track Guide assists professionals in supporting healthy development in all children through a strength-based approach. The development of this comprehensive reference guide required the dedication and support of many experts who work with young children and families. We want to acknowledge the advisory committee and the authors of the Red Flags reference guides for their impressive work and contributions to the On Track Guide.

On Track Guide Lead Project Team and Advisory Committee

On Track Guide Lead Project Team
Dr. Aimee Wolanski Project Consultant/Editor – On Track Guide
Hiltrud Dawson Project Chair, Health Promotion Consultant, Best Start Resource Centre, Health Nexus
On Track Guide Advisory Committee
Dr. Tony Barozzino Chief of Paediatrics, St. Michaels Hospital, Toronto; Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
Dr. Jean Clinton Child Psychiatrist, McMaster University, Hamilton; Infant Mental Health Program member; Hamilton Best Start Implementation chair
Karen Cobb Children's Community Planning Table Coordinator/Facilitator (Best Start Implementation – North Bay District)
Donna Cutler Director of Health Promotion, Northwestern Health Unit
Ruth Doherty Integrating Support Coordinator, Affiliated Services for Children and Youth, Hamilton
Dr. Elizabeth Lee Ford-Jones Professor of Paediatrics, University of Toronto; Chief of Social Paediatrics, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
Beth Fraser Toronto Public Health, Child Health Manager
Wendy Goulden Early Years Consultant, Learning Services, Waterloo Region District School Board
Shauna Grant Health Promotion Consultant, Early Identification Program, Toronto Public Health
Marlene Green Speech/Language Pathologist, Community Educator, York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program
Paul Leishman Senior Therapist, Children's Therapy Services, Local Team Facilitator, Children's Treatment Network Simcoe-York
Maureen McDonald Director of Early Child Development Programs, Mothercraft
Cathy Millard Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program Coordinator, Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Public Health Unit
Dr. Pat Mousmanis Family Physician, York Region and Toronto, Coordinator of the Healthy Child Development Program for the Ontario College of Family Physicians
Fabienne Nackers Nurse Practitioner, Centre de santé communautaire du Témiskaming
Sandy Oliver Senior Policy Analyst, Strategic Policy and Planning Division, Early Learning and Child Development Branch, Ministry of Children and Youth Services
Aldona Ollen Public Health Nurse, Child Health, Early Identification Program, York Region, Community and Health Services
Kiran Pothula Teacher, Peel District School Board
Manoj Saluja Public Health Nurse, Toronto Public Health
Dr. Diann Superina Developmental Paediatrician, St. Michael's Hospital Toronto, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
Adam Wilton Graduate Student, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto

The On Track Guide was also reviewed in part and as a whole by topic and practice experts. They provided valuable information on content related to accuracy and usability of the final version. We thank the reviewers for their thoughtful and timely input.

On Track Guide Expert Reviewers
Jane Bertrand Professor, Early Childhood Development Faculty, George Brown College
Dr. Theresa Carter Associate Professor, Division of Developmental Paediatrics, Department of Paediatrics, McMaster University
Martha Cole Toronto Public Health, Infant Hearing and Blind Low Vision Program
Margaret Good Provincial Healthy Schools Consultant, OPHEA
Marie Goulet Early Childhood Development Program, George Brown College
Dr. Joelene Huber Developmental Fellow, Division of Developmental Paediatrics, Department of Paediatrics, University of Toronto
Dr. Gajanan Kulkarni Associate Professor, Paediatric and Preventive Dentistry, University of Toronto
Dr. Brenda Smith-Chant Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Trent University
Dr. Sarah Naomi Shaw Family Physician, Taddle Creek Family Health Team
Martha Svacina Manager, Healthy Babies Healthy Children, Community and Public Health Services, Waterloo Region
Mary Turfryer Public Health Nutritionist, Nutrition Services, Community and Health Services Department, Public Health Branch, York Region
Richard Ward Daily Physical Activity/Education Consultant, OPHEA

We would also like to thank the professionals working with young children, who provided feedback through surveys and field testing, during the planning and implementation stages of this guide.


On Track - Supporting Healthy Child Development and Early Identification in the Early Years: A Reference Guide for Professionals in Ontario is designed to support professionals who work with young children.

  • The goal of the resource is to:
    Support professionals by providing specific strategies and information to:

    •  Support and promote healthy development in all children
    •  Decide when a child could benefit from additional support or services and
    •  Refer the child and his parents to the appropriate local children's service for advice, screening,
        assessment and/or treatment.

The On Track Guide is not a formal screening or diagnostic tool for children, families and professionals. It is not to be used to diagnose or label a child. It is intended to support professionals working with children from Zero to six years of age.

This guide cannot substitute for the advice and/or treatment of professionals trained to properly assess the development and progress of young children. Although this document may help one decide when to seek professional help, the information contained in this document should not be used to diagnose or treat perceived developmental limitations and/or other health care needs.

The Best Start Resource Centre thanks you for your interest in and support of our work. Best Start permits others to copy, distribute, or reference the work for non-commercial purposes on condition that full credit is given. Because our resources are designed to support local health promotion initiatives, we would appreciate knowing how this resource has supported or been integrated into your work (

September 2015

This document has been prepared with funds provided by the Government of Ontario. The information herein reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of Ontario. The resources and programs cited throughout this guide are not necessarily endorsed by the Best Start Resource Centre or the Government of Ontario. While the participation of the advisory was critical to the development of this resource, final decisions about content were made by the Best Start Resource Centre.