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Simcoe Open House, Celebrates Growth In Norfolk

Updated: May 21



Simcoe, ON – Less than 24 months after cutting the ribbon on Colborne Street, Lansdowne Children’s Centre is inviting community partners and families to another Grand Opening in Simcoe.

On Friday, April 28th the region’s Children’s Treatment Centre and SmartStart Hub will celebrate the opening of their new Norfolk site at 387 Cedar Street.

“We’re very excited to welcome the community into our new home in Simcoe, and continue to grow as a neighbour and partner to families in Norfolk County,”

shared the Executive Director of Lansdowne Children’s Centre, Rita-Marie Hadley.

“Our service providers have worked very hard to make improvements on our previous location. We are all dedicated to evolving service to meet the growing needs of our region’s children and their families.”

Improvements in the new location include: larger, open spaces all at ground level; accessible parking; improved lighting; more treatment rooms. The new location unifies Lansdowne service teams under one roof, who were previously operating out of two buildings on Colborne Street.

“Having our teams able to work together, separated only by a short hallway, improves efficiency for delivering and receiving services. It’s easier for clients, families and multi-discipline care teams.”

The OPEN HOUSE event scheduled for Friday, April 28th will begin at 2:00 p.m. with opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting at 3:00 p.m. including Lansdowne’s Board Chair John Bradford and Norfolk resident and board member, Rick Rozak. Community members, especially families eager to learn more about how Lansdowne Children’s Centre supports children and youth with special needs, are invited to tour the building and meet Lansdowne service providers.


In January 2023, the Ontario government designated Lansdowne Children’s Centre as the region’s SmartStart Hub, providing a single point of access to government funded child development services and supports that include Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Child and Youth Workers and Social Workers.

Lansdowne’s Brantford site at 39 Mount Pleasant Street has traditionally fielded child development support referrals for the region that includes Brantford, Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk Counties, and Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, working in partnership with agencies like Haldimand-Norfolk REACH, Contact Brant and EarlyON Centres.

While not much has changed for who receives referrals, since the fall of 2022 Lansdowne has experienced a spike in the number of referrals being received.

“Our intake services team experienced our largest wave of referrals last September, and we are still feeling the pressure of population changes in our region.”

Prior to 2019, Lansdowne Children’s Centre was already working with the provincial government around need for a larger Children’s Treatment Centre in Brantford with limitations of the retrofitted former school that has served as headquarters since 1998. Capacity limits at the Mount Pleasant location create challenges keeping pace with referrals, compounded by the need for more space for treatment and equipment, and the need to improve accessibility in an older structure that was not purpose-built.

Those conversations continue in 2023 on a burning platform, as post-pandemic reality applies new pressures to an already fragile eco-system.

“Our region experienced a boom in population since 2020 with in-province migration. With greater numbers, greater awareness of the importance of pre-school child development, and complications from pandemic closures that limited access to socialization and assessment, we’re in the middle of a very challenging time.”

Child development services are most impactful when delivered before a child reaches school-age. The standard for first assessment is 90 days and for beginning treatment after assessment is 60 days. With a growing wait list that sees families wait up to 18 months or more, Lansdowne continues to adapt and compromise in an effort to start services sooner.

“The limited time to help a child and family realize their potential is no place for compromise,” says Hadley. “We know we must do better, and we are looking for help to do it.”

Lansdowne opened sites in Simcoe, Dunnville and Caledonia in 2021, delivering child development services locally for residents of Norfolk and Haldimand counties.

The opening of sites in Simcoe, Caledonia and Dunnville was a decision with service growth to bring service locations closer to families in their own community. The Lansdowne Children’s Centre catchment area spans over 4,000 square kilometers, with an eastern border outside of Niagara’s region, a western border alongside Oxford, and a northern border of Cambridge. The southern border is Lake Erie.

“In our strategic plan, the sites outside Brantford exist to serve families in need locally, and are part of a support system that includes Brantford. While these locations continue to develop and evolve in Norfolk and Haldimand they do not address the capacity needs of Mount Pleasant Street, or reduce the growing stress felt by wait listed families in Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations. We need to look at a new option in Brantford, similar to how we needed to solve challenges with the growing needs in Simcoe.”

Lansdowne will report on the latest admission and wait list statistics in their next annual report, to be released at the June 21 annual general meeting. It’s expected that results will surpass last year’s figures, of over 3,000 client families served, and over 2,300 still waiting for assessment or service. At a recent municipal meeting it was shared that the projected figures, with status quo capacity, will surpass 13,500 families waiting for help by 2041.

All area municipal councils have voiced support to the Ontario Ministry of Children Community and Social Services for Lansdowne’s Brantford expansion, which continues to await government’s Stage 1 Planning Approval.

For more information please contact:

Rita-Marie Hadley

Executive Director

Lansdowne Children’s Centre

P 519-753-3153 x237


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