Program Goals

Guiding Principles


Organizational Structure

Steering Committee

Funding/ Contributions

Research Component

Our Services

Research and Publications


Can you help?

Employment opportunities

Parent Resources

Kids Resources

Scent Policy

Contact Us



 A Report by
 the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre (SEOCHC)



 Prepared as part of the Our Place- Learning in Motion initiative
Funded by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program






In 2005, Better Beginnings Better Futures (BBBF) of Ottawa was awarded funding from the Social Development Partnership Program (Human Resources and Social Development Canada) for their project on social inclusion of children and families. Projects were to explore models that promote place-based best practices and partnerships to help communities organize themselves to enhance the well-being of children under six and their families, especially those in disadvantaged circumstances.


Our Place Learning in Motion Project Team
Program Manager (BBBF) - Leslie McDiarmid (1991- September 2007)
                                               - Kelli Tonner (September 2007- to present)
Project Coordinator/Researcher
-Susan Villeneuve (February 2006–March 2007)
                                                -Mary Ann Jenkins (April 2007 – to present)
Community Liaison Worker - Mohamoud Hagi-Aden

The project team would like to thank the Better Beginnings Better Futures Steering Committee for their input and collaboration on the Our Place-Learning in Motion initiative.


A very special thank you is extended to Leslie McDiarmid for her on-going enthusiasm, guidance and support in this endeavor.

How to reach us:

Better Beginnings Better Futures
22-1485 Heatherington Road
Ottawa, ON, K1V 8Z4
Tel: 613-523-2223
Fax: 613-523-2360



This report has been funded by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program.  The opinions and interpretations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


Better Beginnings Better Futures is a community-based program that provides supports and services for parents and caregivers with children 0 to 6 years of age and pregnant women living in the Heatherington/ Albion/ Ledbury/ Fairlea neighbourhoods of South-East Ottawa.  Better Beginnings Better Futures is a program of the South-East Ottawa Centre for a Healthy Community (SEOCHC), one of 14 community health and resource centres in Ottawa.

The term neighbourhood can simply refer to a geographic district or area. BBBF serves the Heatherington, Albion, Ledbury and Fairlea neighbourhoods.  A community is best understood as a group of people who, regardless of the diversity of their backgrounds, have been able to accept their differences allowing them to communicate effectively and openly and to work together for their common good. BBBF provides supports and opportunities for people from the four neighbourhoods to come together and contribute to the betterment of the whole community.  

After a careful review of the literature, the Better Beginnings Better Futures Steering Committee adopted the following definition of social inclusion as they felt it best reflected the goals of BBBF and the Our Place initiative. 
Social and economic inclusion is the ability to participate in your community or society, to have control over your own resources, equality of opportunity and the ability to affect change in your family or your community for the benefit of yourself or your society as a whole. For families with young children living in the Better Beginnings Better Futures community, social inclusion includes having access to child development and parental assistance programs. Social inclusion provides the opportunity to lead productive, secure lives while developing the skills and knowledge necessary to participate fully in the community.

This project used Participatory Action Research (PAR) to come together as a community to address issues of concern. PAR goes through repeated cycles, in which researchers and the community start with the identification of major issues, concerns and problems, they conduct  research, identify possible solutions,  try out  the solutions, find out if the solutions are working and begin the cycle again. Participatory Action Research projects continuously reflect back on what they have learned from the actions and begin to make changes immediately. Results are difficult to predict from the beginning, challenges can be great and achievements depend to a very large extent on the commitment, creativity and imagination of the community.


A barrier can be anything that prevents an individual or family from accessing programs or services at BBBF. Barriers take the form of misconceptions, stereotypes, or labelling. Agencies may lack outreach programs, staff and volunteers trained in culturally inclusive practices, adequate transportation, or funding for coordinated services and individual supports. Boards of directors and administrators may not understand inclusion well enough to support it. Policies and procedures may discourage participation. The lack of ramps, automatic door openers and similar accommodations can prevent people with disabilities from participating. The lack of adequate physical space to run programs can also create barriers. Serving people from a variety of backgrounds may raise program concerns. Language barriers may prevent people from accessing information on services and the services offered may not meet the needs of the community.
Strategies are possible solutions to removing the barriers to inclusion and are the focus of this report. Some examples could include the implementation of new policies and procedures, staff training on cultural competency and finding new ways to reach out and involve the community.
Heyne, L. (2003). Solving organizational barriers to inclusion using education,    creativity, and teamwork. Impact, 16, p.16-17.




  • The goal of the Our Place Learning in Motion Initiative was to identify barriers to participation in Better Beginnings Better Futures (BBBF) programs and services and to develop and implement new strategies to increase the inclusion and participation of families and children in community life.
  • During 2006/2007, using a Participatory Action Research approach, three rounds of consultation were held with members of the BBBF community including program participants, volunteers, staff and community partners.


  • During each round of consultation, barriers to participation were identified and strategies to overcome these barriers were discussed.
  • Our Place is a snapshot of our community’s experiences. It provides an example of how BBBF has tried to involve community members and service providers in a holistic approach that supports families and children from the prenatal through the preschool years.


  • We hope that other groups will be able to take ideas from our experiences and use them to support inclusion in their communities.


Barriers and Strategies to Inclusion


Confidentiality………………………………………………………..p. 6

Cultural Competency………………………………………………..p. 8

Dads & Tots Program………………………………………..….….p. 10

Extras Neighbourhood Food Cupboard ……………………..…p. 13

Scent-Free Policy...………………………………………………….p. 14

Welcoming Practices…………………………………………….....p. 19



Appendix A: Privacy Policy………………………………………..p. 22

Appendix B: Use of Photographs Form ……..……………..…..p. 23

Appendix C: Neighbourhood Food Cupboard Guidelines…...p. 24

Appendix D: Workshop: Dealing with Difficult Situations…...p. 25

Appendix E: Scent-Free Workplace Policy.…………………….p. 26

Appendix F: A Scent-Free Policy: Backgrounder………..……p. 28


Strategies Implemented at BBBF…...………………...………….p. 29



During the initial interviews in the fall 2006, several participants expressed a concern that there was a lack of confidentiality at BBBF and that their personal information was being discussed with other people.


  • The neighbourhoods within the BBBF community are made up of high density housing. Living so closely together makes it difficult for residents to maintain privacy.
  • The Community House is often crowded and staff must share work spaces. It is difficult to find a place to meet privately with other staff or participants.
  • Gaining and maintaining trust is critical to staff being able to work effectively within the community.



  • Participants had a perception that confidentiality was a problem. Concerns centered on small groups of staff and residents discussing people and events in the kitchen area of the Community House.
  • Out of concern for their own privacy, some people are reluctant to participate in BBBF programs and services.
  • Some residents will not go to the BBBF Community House for any reason because they fear they will be perceived as being in need of assistance.


  • Focus groups were held in the spring of 2007. The researcher provided a brief review of the training that all staff and volunteers go through when beginning work at BBBF and SEOCHC. It was explained that all staff and volunteers who answer phones must have a Police Records Check and sign confidentiality agreements. Participants were informed of the process in place if there was a suspected breach of confidentiality. The researcher requested that each participant share this information with his/her family and friends.


  • Participants were asked if they felt there was a problem with confidentiality when using BBBF programs and services, had they received any information on the privacy policy and had they seen any changes, over the past six months, in how the staff handles issues. The majority of people responded that the issue of confidentiality was not a problem for them nor had it been a problem in the past. They felt that their personal information was well protected and they trusted the staff they had dealings with.
  • Most people felt that confidentiality was well protected by the Family Visitors, the Family Visitors Coordinator and the Community Nurse.


  • Most participants were not aware of the privacy policy and how to obtain information on the policy, nor were they aware of the procedure in place to lodge a complaint.
  • Participants stated that some people in the community will not access services because of a high level of distrust when it comes to social workers in general. This distrust is based on negative experiences in the past with social workers from outside social agencies.


  • BBBF should have information sheets available on the privacy policy. Information sheets should be available in various languages and easily accessible.
  • Increase the amount of information available on the role of Family Visitors.
  • Have an information table at large community events with staff available to answer questions about BBBF and its programs and services.


  • The increase in new internet technologies raises concerns around an individual’s right to privacy. What steps should we as an agency take to ensure the privacy of both our staff and our clients? Note: During the course of this project we revised the Use of Photographs Form (Appendix B) in recognition of the new forms of electronic media.
  • In terms of levels of distrust in our community, what are the pros and cons of increased collaboration with outside agencies?



Cultural Competency

BBBF as a program of the South-East Ottawa Centre for a Healthy Community is committed to the provision of responsive and accessible health and social services for all people within the South-East Ottawa community.


  • Cultural competence can be defined as having the knowledge, skills and approaches required to provide effective services to people from different ethno-cultural communities (IWAM, 2006).
  • Cultural competence within social, health and human services has become a major topic of discussion.
  • The number and variety of cultural communities in Ottawa is multiplying at a significant rate.


  • Ottawa receives the highest percentage of refugees and family-related immigration of any major Canadian centre (City of Ottawa, 2004).
  • The number of recent immigrants now living in Ottawa-Gatineau, 70,500, is the fourth highest in the country (City of Ottawa, 2004).
  • To try and better serve the community, staff and volunteers have traditionally been recruited from within the community.


  • Initial research indicated that some participants perceived a lack of true understanding of cultural norms and practices on the part of staff and volunteers.
  • There is a perceived lack of cultural sensitivity to what different cultural groups need or expect from an organization.
  • Cultural barriers to accepting help were identified as an issue.
  • The lack of available staff or volunteers in the Community House who speak different languages, especially at the reception area.
  • Some community members stated that they did not attend playgroup because they do not speak English.
  • Program information in different languages is not readily available.



  • Establish welcoming committees for new residents and new immigrants.
  • Provide in-depth cultural sensitivity and knowledge training for all staff.
  • Have more advertisements and flyers in different languages.
  • Have a web-site with program information available in different languages.


  • The report analyzing the data collected during the fall of 2006 showed that some participants felt that the staff and volunteers were not culturally sensitive. At the focus groups in the spring of 2007 participants were given an opportunity to discuss their perception of the problem. They were asked the following questions: What does cultural sensitivity mean to you?; Do you think that people in the community are culturally sensitive?; and, How do you think we can help our staff and volunteers become more culturally sensitive?


  • One of the focus groups talked about the sense they get when they come to the Community House. They felt that the negative body language they observed indicated cultural insensitivity.
  • Another focus group felt that there was a stigma attached to people who were either of a different cultural group or spoke a different language.


  • Staff received information on how to be more welcoming to people and to eliminate any negative body language.
  • Diversity training was planned for up-coming staff meetings.
  • The focus of the BBBF Staff Retreat in May 2007 was “Cultural Competency”. Staff participated in a half-day workshop which included discussions on values, attributes of an inclusive organization and the benefits of an inclusive organization.


  • What can we do to increase cultural awareness in the community?
  • What can we do to facilitate interaction and understanding between different cultural groups?

City of Ottawa (2004). Ottawa Counts: Immigration to Ottawa. vol.3.

Immigrant Women’s Association of Manitoba (2006). Inclusive organizations: A tool for
 continuous improvement in health and social service agencies. Winnipeg: IWAM.


Dads & Tots Program

In 2006, the lack of activities for men and their children was identified as a gap in service at BBBF. In response the BBBF Steering Committee proposed a drop-in program for men and children emphasizing gross motor skills through play.


  • There was no programming at BBBF especially designed to meet the needs of men and their children.
  • Some fathers feel uncomfortable attending female dominated playgroups.
  • Children need a place where they can play safely and freely with appropriate adult supervision.


  • It is important for all parents and caregivers (male or female) to receive parenting support, access to community resources and learn to support children’s development and play-based learning (McCain & Mustard, 1999:159).
  • Playgroup provides an opportunity for parents to learn from early childhood development staff and to teach and learn from each other.
  • Often men do not feel comfortable accessing community, social and health services. Playgroup provides an opportunity to share information in an informal and non-threatening manner (FIRA, 2006).
  • Playgroup breaks the social isolation experienced by all fathers but, in particular immigrant fathers, young fathers, new fathers and separated and divorced fathers (FIRA, 2006).
  • Children of involved fathers are more likely to do better in school, have better relationships with both parents and are less likely to have a stressed-out mother (Hoffman, 2001).



  • In May 2007, after investigating other programs, Dads & Tots was launched. The drop-in program is designed for men and their children between the ages of 18 months and 5 years. The “men” can be fathers, uncles, grandfathers or any other male who plays a significant role in a child’s life. The program operates out of the Albion Heatherington Community Centre (1495 Heatherington Road) every Saturday between 10 and 12 noon. The planned activities encourage young children to learn through play, with a focus on gross motor and physical activity. Program activities include the use of a variety of balls, balance beams, ropes and ribbons, climbers, tunnels, games, projects and construction activities. Snacks are provided and there is no cost to attend. The program is promoted through signs in the Community House and Playgroup, the Community Newsletter, Family Visitors program and on the BBBF web site.
  • Some initial concerns were raised that the regular Playgroup Coordinator would also lead the Dads & Tots program. One man stated that he would not attend as it would be culturally inappropriate for him to be alone at Playgroup with the female Coordinator. In response, the Coordinator approached a couple of men in the community to volunteer with the program. However, finding volunteers remains a challenge.


In the fall of 2007, as part of a six-month follow-up, BBBF participants were asked if they knew about the Dads & Tots program and if they knew of someone who had attended the program.

  • Very few participants knew of the program and even fewer knew of someone who had attended a Saturday session. Attendance is very low with one or two families showing up on a regular basis. The program has experienced some disruptions in service as other events scheduled for the Albion Heatherington Community Centre has meant BBBF can not run the program on those Saturdays.
  •  In principle, community members saw the program as a good opportunity for fathers to spend quality time with their children. A few participants commented on the number of absentee fathers in the community. They questioned as to whether or not there is a demand for the service.



  • Participants from both the Arabic and Somali speaking communities noted that in some cultures the women assume responsibility for the care of the children. Therefore, they thought it highly unlikely that men in their communities would attend the Dad & Tots program.
  • Some community members cited work and family commitments as reasons why they would not attend the program. Many fathers are working more than one job. Saturday morning is a work day or a day to attend to errands such as groceries.


  • Increase the publicity on the program. More outreach into the neighbourhood.
  • Increased publicity through partner agencies such as the Children’s Aid Society and Andrew Fleck Home Child Care.
  • Offer specific activities or workshops such as soccer or woodworking.
  • Allow more time for relationship building and credibility. It took more than a year for attendance to build at the weekday playgroup.


  • How do we support men who will not or can not attend a father/child program?


Father Involvement Research Alliance (2006). Community research forum:
Executive summary (Spring). Guelph: University of Guelph.

Hoffman, J. (2001). Involved fathers: A guide for today’s dad. Carleton Place,
 Ontario: Father Involvement Initiative, Ontario Network.

McCain, M. & Mustard, F. (1999). Early years study: Final report. Toronto:
Ontario Children’s Secretariat.

Extras Neighbourhood Food Cupboard

The Extras Neighbourhood Food Cupboard is seen as a critical service providing food to families in the Better Beginnings Better Futures community.


  • Some individuals would be unable to feed their families without the assistance of a food bank in their local community.
  • The running of the BBBF Food Cupboard is very labour intensive and relies heavily on volunteers.
  • The community has expressed a strong desire to keep the Food Cupboard open.


  • 40% of people needing emergency food assistance are children (Ottawa Food Bank, 2007).
  • Each day 8,445 children attend School Breakfast Programs in Ottawa (OCRI, 2007).
  • Many food bank users report feeling shame and embarrassment, particularly on first coming to food banks (Tarasuk V. & Beaton G, 1999).


  • The Extras Neighbourhood Food Cupboard was founded in 2000 by a group of concerned community residents. It is located in the basement of the BBBF Community House. It is open every Thursday from 1:00-3:30 and from 2:30-5:00 on the 3rd Thursday of the month. The service is available to residents of Albion, Heatherington, Ledbury and Fairlea. Families may access the service a maximum of one visit per month. Three to five volunteers are needed on a weekly basis in order to unload the truck and distribute the food. An honorarium is paid to a community resident for the coordination of the service. The Ottawa Food Bank donates the bulk of the food, providing enough for 35,000 meals annually. Through funds raised at an annual auction held at SEOCHC, BBBF has been able to purchase additional food items and required supplies.




  • The current hours of service makes it difficult for students and employed people to access the program.
  • The Food Cupboard brings a large number of people into the very small and crowded Community House.
  • Several people stated that the staff/volunteers did not treat them in a respectful manner, either using a harsh tone of voice, negative body language or with a certain level of rudeness. Note: It should be stated here that participants often use the terms staff and volunteers interchangeably.
  • Some people felt that when they refused food for cultural or religious beliefs they were made to feel like they were doing something wrong.
  • Concerns were raised over the process of choosing who gets served first at Food Cupboard. The lack of formal procedures led to a perception of preferential treatment.

Implementation of new procedures

  • A token system was implemented in October 2007. Individuals randomly select a number out of a plastic dish at the start of Food Cupboard hours. All Food Cupboard users are asked to provide their name and address.  They are called by their designated number and name to go downstairs to pick up food. If they arrive at the Community House after the numbers have been handed out they are served on a first come first serve basis.  


  • In the fall 2007, volunteers, participants and community members were asked if there had been improvements at the Food Cupboard. There was strong support for the new token system. Both volunteers and participants felt it had reduced some of the tension in the Community House.


  • Need for translation and interpretation. Some people are uncertain as to procedures. Signs are posted in English and French only. People are unsure when the Food Cupboard is open for business.

Space Issues

  • Lack of space in the waiting area.
  • The Community House does not have an area suitable for children to play. There are concerns over the safety of children in the house during Food Cupboard hours.

Storage and Delivery of Food

  • Shortage of bags suitable for carrying groceries.
  • Lack of volunteers to unload food from the truck.

Treatment of Staff/Volunteers and Participants

  • Some visitors to the Food Cupboard can be very impatient and rude to the volunteers. This leads to friction between the staff and community members.
  • Visitors sometimes confuse volunteers with staff. They can become frustrated when volunteers are not able to answer their questions or assist them.


  • Develop a volunteer recruitment strategy. Volunteers could provide assistance in a variety of languages.
  • Provide simple recipes for cooking with North American produce. Translate into several languages.

Space Issues

  • Designate a small area in the backyard for children to play. Provide basic equipment such as balls and hoops. The children would need to be supervised by their parents at all times.

Storage and Delivery of Food

  • Encourage people to purchase canvas bags at local grocery stores.
  • Purchase reusable canvas bags. Create an incentive system to reuse them.

Treatment of Staff/Volunteers and Participants

  • In December 2007, a training session on How to Deal with Difficult Situations was offered to all staff and regular volunteers. Participants were given three scenarios and were asked to propose strategies for dealing with the different situations.  The workshop outline is attached as Appendix D.
  • Develop a volunteer recruitment strategy. Provide on-going training.
  • Provide volunteers with t-shirts or name tags to clearly identify them as volunteers.


  • In 2007 the Social Planning Council of Ottawa completed a project designed to improve access to food bank services by low income residents in Ottawa. The objective was to recommend changes to catchment areas for food bank agencies which would ensure better service coverage across the City. Over the past year BBBF has been engaged in discussions with the Ottawa Food Bank as to what the implications of these changes will be on the provision of service at BBBF.
  • BBBF was designed as a program for families with young children. The Food Cupboard is bringing in people who are single without children. As resources are stretched, do we need to re-examine what programs we deliver?

Canadian Association of Food Banks (2007). About CAFB.

Tarasuk V. & Beaton G. Household food insecurity and hunger among families using
               food banks. Canadian Journal of Public Health 1999:90 (2) p.109-13.



Scent-Free Workplace Policy

Due to health concerns arising from exposure to scented products, SEOCHC developed a policy to provide a scent-free environment for all staff, volunteers, clients, program participants and community residents.


  • As part of SEOCHC, BBBF was required to implement the policy as of February 19, 2007. See Appendix F.
  • There is a general lack of knowledge and understanding in regards to the policy.
  • There is a perception that the policy is not being applied consistently.


  • The Researcher drafted a revised Scent-Free Workplace Policy based on research of scent-free policies at other organizations. The policy was passed by the SEOCHC Board of Directors.
  • Medical evidence shows that scented products can be harmful to people with allergies, environmental sensitivity or chronic heart or lung disease (SEOCHC, 2007).
  • Scented products can cause a variety of harmful reactions, such as asthma attacks, other breathing problems, nausea, dizziness, rashes and headaches (SEOCHC, 2007).
  • The most common scented products are toiletries, air fresheners, deodorizers, oils, candles, incense, some office supplies, cleaning and maintenance products (SEOCHC, 2007). See Appendix F.
  • Scent plays an important role in some cultures. Many religious ceremonies employ incense. Incense is also used in medicine and to improve the aroma in the home.


  • In spring 2007, focus groups were held with participants and community members in English, French, Arabic and Somali. The Researcher presented a brief summary of the SEOCHC/BBBF scent-free policy and the reasons behind the policy with an emphasis on the health factors.
  • A one page information sheet on the scent-free policy was handed out. It provided information on scent policies, why we have them and what types of products contain scent. The sheet was designed to generate discussion and facilitate spreading of the information. Participants were asked how staff should tell someone that they cannot wear scent.



  • Lack of awareness of the policy among community members.
  • Some cultural groups feel they are being targeted because they wore scent in the past. There is a perception that the policy is not being applied evenly.
  • When approached by staff about their wearing of scent, some community members feel that they are not being treated with respect.


  • Suggestions were made on how to approach someone wearing scent. It was agreed that the person should be taken aside and gently informed of the policy. It was felt that there is a need for sensitivity training for the staff when dealing with someone who is wearing scent.  It was suggested that there should be signage posted on the policy. As well, it was noted that due to the transient nature of the community, that there will be a need for on-going education regarding the policy.
  • Staff-training was offered on how to approach someone wearing scent.


  • Although the issue continues to evoke strong reactions in people, there was general acceptance of the scent-free policy. Overall, it was felt that people are wearing less scent when coming to the Community House. There continues to be some concern that people do not realize that they are wearing scent. This may be because scent is on their clothing or in their hair due to the use of scent in their homes.


  • If a visit to the Community House is a planned visit, individuals can prepare for the visit by not using or wearing scented products on that day.  The difficulty is that when it is an unplanned visit it creates the dilemma for people, do they come anyways or do they postpone their visit and possibly forego needed services.
  • Some community members continue to feel that their efforts to comply with the policy are not being recognized.
  • For people wearing scent, being asked to wait outside while someone serves you can be embarrassing.
  • The scent-free policy is not being enforced at Playgroup. Note: The scent-free policy is not posted as Playgroup operates out of a rented space.
  • Lack of a universal “no scent” symbol.




  • Have information in a number of languages posted and readily available at the Community House.
  • Run another series of focus groups.
  • Offer a workshop on the Scent-Free Workplace Policy.
  • Have the Family Visitors and Community Nurse inform participants of the policy as part of their initial visit.
  • Although individuals may be asked to wait outside, it is important that people know that they will not be denied service because they are wearing scent.
  • Place more information on the web site.
  • Hand out information when people access the Food Cupboard for the first time.
  • Have an information table at community celebrations and get-togethers.


The scent policy continues to generate a great deal of discussion. Staff should be given an opportunity to report back on how the policy is being enforced and strategies to help support compliance.


 Welcoming Practices
During the Interviews of 2006 and the Focus Groups of spring 2007 some participants stated that they felt they were treated differently because they came from a different culture or because they spoke a different language. 


  • Better Beginnings Better Futures serves a culturally diverse community.
  • The Community House tries to offer a warm, home-like setting. In keeping with this practice, there are very few signs on the walls and staff members do not wear ID badges.
  • The first point of contact for visitors may be with a volunteer and not with a BBBF staff member.
  • If visitors to BBBF programs do not feel welcomed they may leave and not receive the services they require.


  • The physical layout of the Community House poses some challenges in terms of welcoming people to the program. The Community House does not have a reception area in the traditional sense. The “office” is located in the kitchen, a traditionally private space in most homes and offices. To reach the office, visitors first must walk down a long hallway, past a lounge area. They may be confused as to whether or not they should wait in this area for someone to greet them.
  • Staff and volunteers are not readily identifiable. Unless it is exceptionally busy, there is usually a staff person or volunteer able to greet visitors and direct them to what they need or want. In some cases however, visitors may be left wondering to whom they should address their inquiries to.
  • Playgroup can be a very busy and hectic place. It is often difficult for one of the two regular staff members to get to the front door and welcome everyone as they enter. This is partially offset by the Playgroup Coordinator’s fifteen year involvement with the program. This continuity means that she is able to identify newcomers readily as they enter the building and try to make her way to them as quickly as possible.




  • Playgroup can be very crowded and noisy. This can be overwhelming for a first time visitor.
  • There is a group of residents who are at the Community House all the time. They seem to take up a great deal of the staff and volunteer’s time and energy. Some people feel unwanted and not part of the “in” group.
  • People do not know that services are free.
  • Families with older children feel left out of programs and services.


  • In response, welcoming practices were introduced. When someone enters the Community House a staff member or volunteer is to greet the person and inquire as to whether or not they need any assistance. In the spring of 2007, the office staff and volunteers received information on welcoming behaviour.
  • The Community House has posted multilingual signs on both the front and back doors encouraging visitors to come in.
  • At Playgroup the two regular staff members have tried to divide up the task of welcoming and saying goodbye to people.

In the follow-up research of fall 2007, community members, participants and volunteers were asked whetherthe Community House had become a more welcoming place.

  • For the majority of respondents the answer was positive. Most people felt that there had been an improvement over the last six months. A number of people stated that they were greeted when they arrived and were asked if they need any assistance. At Playgroup, the mothers/caregivers often reported that staff greeted them warmly and waved them off as well.


While it is clear that community members have noticed an improvement in how they are greeted, others continue to experience difficulties.

  • Cultural Issues


One woman stated that in her culture, people will not come into a house unless invited to enter. They will not sit down unless offered a chair. They will not pour themselves a cup of coffee unless it is offered. If they do not feel welcomed, they will turn around and leave again. (Translation)

Another woman offered that she does not know when it is a good time to come to the House. She is uncertain as to what time services are offered. If she is not greeted, she often feels like she did something wrong. (Translation)

Visitors to the Community House do not know who is in charge or who to ask for assistance.

Participants felt that the staff are much more sensitive to cultural issues than the volunteers.

Participants noted the lack of staff or volunteers able to greet people in their own language when they go to the Community House.

  • Playgroup

Some people feel ignored or excluded by other groups at playgroup.

  • Volunteers

Visitors to the house often expect volunteers to have the same knowledge as the staff. They can become frustrated when the volunteers are unable to assist them.


  • In December 2007, a training session on How to Deal with Difficult Situations was offered to all staff and regular volunteers. Participants were given three scenarios and were asked to propose strategies for dealing with the different situations.  The workshop outline is attached as Appendix D.
  • Introduce the use of name tags identifying staff and volunteers.
  • Staff/volunteer training on different cultures and their customs.
  • Place an “Office” sign over the kitchen doorway.


  • How can we facilitate interaction and cultural awareness between different cultural groups?
  • Should BBBF adopt the use of name tags? What impact would that have on our practice of trying to create a warm home-like environment?



South-East Ottawa Centre (SEOCHC) is committed to protecting your personal information.

  • We have responsibility for personal information.

South-East Ottawa Centre (SEOCHC) is responsible for the information it holds about you and has policies about the confidentiality of this information.

  • We are clear about why we collect information from you.

SEOCHC collects information about you so that we can provide you with health care and services as well as meet our reporting and legal obligations.

  • We work in a team model where physicians, nurses, social workers, community workers and a variety of skilled staff are part of providing high quality services to you and to the community. 

Your information may be shared among staff of our health centre who are involved in your care in order to be able to help you most effectively. 

  • We ask for your consent (agreement) to collect, use and share your personal information.

Every client/patient (or his/her legally authorized representative) will sign an agreement about how we can use your personal information.

  • We will limit the collection of personal information.

SEOCHC will only collect information that is necessary to provide good service to you and to our community and to meet our legal and funding obligations.

  • We use personal information only for the purposes you have agreed to unless the use or sharing is permitted or required by law.

SEOCHC will not use your personal information for purposes other than care or services to you, evaluation, or managing and planning of services unless you agree or unless we are required by law.

  • We take steps to safeguard your personal information.

SEOCHC will protect your information and ensure its privacy.

  • You can ask about our privacy policies and practices.

A staff person can provide you with information about our policies and practices related to the management of personal information if you ask (and we will respond within a reasonable period of time).

  • You have a right to know what personal information we hold about you and you can ask to see your records.

You have the right to request access to the information we have about you.  You can request access to your information by simply writing us a note and signing it. The Centre will follow-up on your request.

  • We respond to concerns and questions.

If you have questions or concerns about the way SEOCHC is carrying out these principles please contact our Privacy Officer at (613) 737-7195 ext 2402.

Use of Photographs Form


I give my consent for Better Beginnings Better Futures (BBBF) to use the attached photographs. I understand that the images may be widely distributed as part of the BBBF program and by the South–East Ottawa Centre for a Healthy Community (SEOCHC). Images may appear in printed materials (including reports, brochures, books, fact sheets, etc.), on web sites, in conference and workshop presentations and in video form.  Individuals in photographs will not be identified by name.

I further understand that this consent can be withdrawn by me at any time, upon written notice. Every attempt will be made by BBBF/SEOCHC to comply with a request for withdrawal.  However, BBBF/SEOCHC can not guarantee that they will be able to remove all images in all instances.  I give this consent voluntarily.

The consent only applies to the following:
Attached photographs of (name of individual) ______________________               
and/or name of child(ren) ______________________

Signature of Individual (18 years of age and older):________________________
Parent/Guardian Signature:______________________
Witness Signature:_____________________
A copy of this consent will be left with you, and a copy will be taken by the researcher.

Extras Neighbourhood Food Cupboard

Welcome to our Food Cupboard.  To ensure that the food cupboard runs smoothly, please follow these guidelines:

Hours of operation:
Thursdays - 1 to 3:30 p.m.
Third Thursday of the month - 2:30 to 5 p.m.

  • A random number will be handed out to you at the start of Food Cupboard hours (1 p.m. every Thursday or 2:30 p.m. every third Thursday).  If you arrive at the community house after the numbers have been handed out you will be served on a first come first serve basis.


  • You will be asked to provide your name and address.
  • You will be called by your designated number and name to go downstairs to pick up food.  It is the responsibility of the food cupboard user to be in a place in the Community House, where they can hear their name or number called.


  • You will be provided with up to three days of food and there will be some choice and selection for some of the food items.

5.         Each person may access the food cupboard once a month.

  1.       We will not serve anyone who is aggressive, abusive and/or

           inappropriate in their interactions.

  1.      Please be respectful to the volunteers who help at the Food



If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to speak to a Better Beginnings, Better Futures staff person or Food Cupboard volunteer.

Workshop: Dealing with Difficult Situations

The following is the results of our workshop on Dealing with Difficult Situations. Training was offered to all staff and regular volunteers.
Purpose of exercise:
The purpose of the exercise is to identify different ways of dealing with difficult situations. Hopefully, this will give staff and volunteers tools so they will be able to act as opposed to react in trying circumstances. The goal of the exercise was to reduce the amount of friction between community members and staff/ volunteers. Remember there are no hard and fast rules as to how people should respond. The answers should reflect the values of the people working at your center.


      • Have a brief review of the values and principles of your organization.
      • Describe exercise.
      • Split staff/volunteers into three groups.
      • Assign each group a different scenario. You can use ours or make up ones more relevant to your organization.
      • Ask each group to assign a recorder.
      • Give groups 15 minutes to discuss the scenarios and record what actions they could take and what actions they should not take.
      • Bring group back together to discuss the different scenarios.
      • Discussion and next steps.

Requirements: Paper, pencil, three separate areas where people can discuss scenarios

At the Food Cupboard, a community member is angry about the food he has received and swears at the volunteer.
A community member arrives at the Community House and staff notices that he is intoxicated.

A regular visitor comes in to the Community House and a staff member notices that she is wearing a scented product again.


  • Are there any other scenarios people would like to discuss?
  • Should staff/volunteers get together in six months to assess how the strategies are working?
  • How do we inform new staff and volunteers of our practices?

Scent-Free Workplace Policy
Core Capacity:  Healthy Workplace
Date approved:  February 19, 2007
Approved by:  Management

Subject:  Scent-Free Workplace


Due to health concerns arising from exposure to scented products, South-East Ottawa Centre for a Health Community (SEOCHC) has created this policy to provide a scent-free environment for all staff, volunteers, clients, program participants and community residents.

Medical evidence shows that scented products can be harmful to people with allergies, environmental sensitivity or chronic heart or lung disease.  In considering the health needs and concerns of those sensitive and non-sensitive individuals alike, and to provide a healthy working environment for everyone, SEOCHC prohibits the use of scented products throughout the organization’s facilities and programs.

Scented products can cause a variety of harmful reactions, such as asthma attacks, other breathing problems, nausea, dizziness, rashes and headaches, in a growing number of the population. To ensure scent-free facilities SEOCHC is committed to taking deliberate steps to eliminate the use of scented products in all SEOCHC facilities. 

Scented products include, but are not limited to, personal toiletries, such as perfumes, body spray, cologne, aftershave, hair spray, skin creams, soaps, and cosmetics.  Other scented products are air fresheners, deodorizers, oils, candles and incense.  As well, some office supplies, cleaning and maintenance products contain scent.  Products may be  labelled unscented or fragrance free, this may mean the product has no scent or it may mean the product has had no scent added however, the product may have a natural scent. For the purpose of this policy SEOCHC considers scent free to mean odourless.

Staff, students, volunteers, clients, program participants and community members using SEOCHC services or participating in SEOCHC programs will be made aware of the Centre’s scent-free policy and will abstain from the use of scented products.

  • Signage will be posted, as appropriate, requesting that all staff, students, volunteers, clients, program participants and community members not use scented products while at any of the SEOCHC facilities.
  • Meeting and program announcements will contain a tag line informing participants to refrain from using scented products:
  • South-East Ottawa Centre for a Healthy Community provides a scent-free environment.  Please do not wear perfumed products as some individuals have environmental sensitivities.
  • The following guidelines will be followed:
  • On first contact with clients, program participants or community residents making appointments or planning to use the services or programs of SEOCHC, staff will inform them of SEOCHC’s scent-free policy and request that they do not wear any scented product when they visit SEOCHC’s facilities.
  • If a client, program participant or community resident wears a scented product on a visit to any SEOCHC facility staff will remind them about SEOCHC’s scent-free policy and again request that they do not wear any scented product when they use SEOCHC services or participate in any SEOCHC program.
  • Should a person continue to ignore the scent-free policy on subsequent visits to SEOCHC facilities and/or programs, staff will advise their manager.  The manager or designate will speak to the person and inform them of the SEOCHC scent-free policy and advise them that if they continue to wear scented products, SEOCHC will not be able to serve them nor will they be able to access SEOCHC premises.  After receiving this information, should a person continue to ignore the scent-free policy on their next visit, the manager will advise the individual in writing that if they do not adhere to the scent-free policy, they will not be able to use any SEOCHC services or attend programs or premises.  Should the individual continue to ignore the scent-free policy the Executive Director will inform them in writing that they are unable to access the Centre services or facilities.
  • In the event that a staff member, volunteer or student uses any scented products, colleagues are requested to speak to the staff member, volunteer or student to inform them of the scent-free policy.  If the staff member, volunteer or student continues to ignore the scent-free policy, colleagues will speak to their manager.  The manager will request that the staff member, volunteer or student leave SEOCHC facilities and remove the scented product before they return.  The time required to do this will not constitute working hours.
  • When purchasing office supplies, cleaning and maintenance products, preference will be given to those with the lowest content of volatile chemicals, for example non-toxic, water based markers.
  • With respect to office equipment SEOCHC shall
  • Locate photocopiers in well-vented areas
  • Provide appropriate ventilation to dilute unavoidable office pollutants



A Scent Free Policy (Backgrounder)

What is our no scent policy?

Due to health concerns arising from contact with scented products, the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre (SEOCHC) has created a policy to provide a scent-free environment for all employees, volunteers and community residents. 

Medical evidence shows that scented products can be harmful to people with allergies, environmental sensitivity or chronic heart or lung disease.  In considering the health needs and concerns of those sensitive and non-sensitive individuals alike, and to provide a healthy working environment for everyone, SEOCHC prohibits the use of scented products throughout the organization’s facilities.

What are some of the health effects of scented products?

Asthma symptoms                                                         Headaches                               
Watery or dry eyes                                                        Fatigue
Double vision                                                                Nausea
Sneezing and nasal congestion                                        Muscle and joint pain
Sinusitis                                                                        High blood pressure
Ear pain                                                                        Swollen lymph glands
Dizziness                                                                      Breathing problems

What types of things contain scent?

Shampoos and conditioners                                            Soaps
Hairsprays                                                                    Cosmetics
Deodorants                                                                   Air fresheners and deodorizers
Colognes and aftershaves                                              Oils                             
Fragrances and perfumes                                               Candles
Lotions and creams                                                       Incense
Potpourri                                                                       Industrial and household cleaners                                                                                   
What can you do?

When you are planning to visit the Better Beginnings Community House, or Playgroup, or the South East Ottawa Community Health Centre, please do not use or wear any scented products.  Wash your clothes in non-scented laundry detergent, use non-scented soap, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, and do not wear perfume or scented oil.  If you are not sure if a product is scented, do not use it.  It is important that we all do what we can to ensure that SEOCHC and BBBF can provide a healthy environment for everyone.





  • Focus Groups on Confidentiality Policy at BBBF
  • Revised Consent for Use of Photographs Form
  • Revised Scent-Free Workplace Policy
  • New Procedures at the Food Cupboard
  • New Dad and Tots Playgroup
  • New Welcoming Practices
  • On-going Cultural Competency Training
  • Training Session on How to Deal with Difficult Situations



We are continuing to gather information about successful ways to make families feel included, respected, and safe in the BBBF community.  Are there barriers that prevent you from participating in BBBF programs? Do you have ideas on how we can remove those barriers and increase inclusion?  Please feel free to share your thoughts with any staff member at Better Beginnings Better Futures.