A Guide for Families and Caregivers


Handle with Care has evolved through several stages, each with a distinct purpose and audience

Handle With Care Inception

Inception (2002-2004):

The Handle with Care project began in 2002 with collaboration between Bonnie Pape at the national office of the Canadian Mental Health Association and Nancy Cohen at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre in Toronto. The initial project, funded by Human Resources and Social Development Canada, was focused on identifying strategies for childcare practitioners. The project had two products: a summary of recent literature (Handle with Care: Strategies for Promoting the Mental Health of Young Children in Community Based Child Care) and a bilingual resource booklet for childcare practitioners, with strategies drawn from evidence-based practices, and actual examples from child care centres across the country.

Development of the Train-the-Trainer and Practitioner Manuals

Development of the Training Manuals (2006-2008):

A national training initiative was undertaken under the leadership of the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre (now SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health). The initiative focused on childcare providers working with children from birth to 6 years in community-based childcare centres. A training program with accompanying manuals, including a train-the-trainer modification was created. The program helps practitioners understand how developmental, family and community factors interact and play out in children’s lives. It includes practical tools for ensuring that mental health promotion is incorporated into all aspects of the centre.  The train-the-trainer manual was piloted with 36 individuals from all provinces and the Yukon territory who have initiated training with child care practitioners in their own regions. 

Evaluation of the training program (2009-2011):

Outcomes of training on early childhood educators’ knowledge and practice were evaluated in three Ontario communities in urban, suburban, and rural areas. This evaluation was funded through the Alva Foundation and the Hincks-Dellcrest Raise a Smile Fund.  There has been a growing demand for Handle with Care materials and training from this stage. The recognition of the program’s policy implications helped us to see the program’s potential to have a positive impact on families as well as childcare providers in different communities. 

Adaptation of the program for parents and caregivers

Adaptation of the program for parents and caregivers (2009-2018):

Phase I: Program adaptation (2009-2010). We created simple interactive activities that build on participants’ strength, traditions and knowledge that help parents/caregivers to promote the mental health of young children from birth to 6 years. The activities follow strengths-based approaches that assume every parent and caregiver has problem-solving skills, potential resources, and wants what’s best for the children in their lives.

Phase II: Program Evaluation (2011-2015). We evaluated the efficacy of the  adapted program  on parents’ and caregivers’ outcomes in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba and the Yukon. Population served were individuals and communities that are at greater risk for experiencing mental health challenges in Canada.

Phase III: Scaling-up (2015-2018). We extended the reach of the successfully tested program to additional provinces and territories.  
All three phases of this stage were funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada

Last Modified: 01-Mar-2020