Every child, no matter their disability or circumstance, deserves the opportunity to thrive

Add your name to the campaign!



Every child deserves the education they need to reach their full potential. This is especially true for children facing the unique challenge of a disability. For many of these children, the local public school might be appropriate. But for many others an independent school might offer a better fit.  


Sadly, current Ontario Government policy makes it difficult for many children with disabilities to access an independent school. We believe this is wrong – and that’s why we have formed Every Kid Counts to push for desperately needed change.


Unlike other provinces, Ontario refuses to fund essential disability services for children enrolled in these schools. As a result, many children must either attend a public school that isn’t suited to their needs or their parents must pay out-of-pocket for essential disability services at an independent school. Given the costs of these services, many children with disabilities who would thrive in an independent school setting are unable to attend. 


We believe that children with disabilities should be able to access essential disability services regardless of the school they attend, be it public or independent. 


Ontarians have the right to choose the kind of education that best meets their child’s unique needs. But a disability is not a matter of choice. Without funded essential disability services in independent schools, many parents are being denied their right to school choice for their child, especially those who have modest or fixed incomes.  


As a result, many parents with children with disabilities struggle considerably knowing that their child attends a school that just isn’t the right for them. Many other parents take on huge financial burdens to ensure their child attends the right school. The result is untold emotional and financial stress on countless families in our province. In the end, it is the children who suffer.   


Ontario’s policy is out of step with policies in other provinces that offer financial assistance for essential disability services in independent schools. It is also inconsistent with widely accepted international norms on the rights of persons with disabilities, as established in the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.     


Every Kid Counts is calling on the Government of Ontario to provide financial assistance for essential services for children with disabilities who attend an independent school. This will ensure that more children with disabilities have access to the educational environments best suited to their unique needs and that parents have the flexibility they need to provide the best care for their child. 


We can't do this without you. Do you have 30 seconds to spare? 

The government should not discriminate between disabilities.

Children should be supported according to their need,

not according to their school.

Who We Are

Every Kid Counts is a grassroots group of parents, children and families calling on the Ontario government to support all children with special needs equally.

For more information, please contact our Executive Director, David Zarnett.


March of Dimes Canada: 


"Every child with a disability deserves the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. March of Dimes Canada supports the position of Every Kid Counts, the campaign for kids in all schools, public or private, to gain access to special supports. This includes support for those with a wide range of behavioural, communication, intellectual, and physical disabilities, such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, dyslexia, hearing loss, deafness, autism, and diabetes. March of Dimes Canada believes parents should be able to choose the school that is best suited to their child's physical and mental abilities, and that every student should have access to the services and supports they need to optimize their education." - Andria Spindel, President & CEO, March of Dimes Canada

Works of Wonder: 


"I strongly support the efforts of Every Kid Counts. I have worked with children and their families for over 20 years, and I have had the pleasure of seeing how much relief families can experience when they find a school that can help their children learn and grow. Each child is unique. Uniqueness is a quality that is lauded in society, but for children with disabilities it is often a barrier when it comes education. Finding the best-fit school for any child struggling with a difference in abilities is vital for that child’s success. For some children, that ideal school exists within the public system. For others, families must look to the independent schools to meet their children’s needs. I have seen children thrive when they are able to  access the right school and I have seen many struggle when they are denied such access. No family of a child with a disability should have to endure the added stress of not being able to provide their child with what is necessary for that child to learn. No child should be left without access to an appropriate education simply for being unique." - Aviva Golberg, Director, Works of Wonder

Variety Village: 


“Variety has a long and rich history of serving children with a disability.  It is for this reason that our organization supports Every Kid Counts.  Working together, we can create an environment for all kids to thrive.  The children are our future and together we will build a strong community for everyone.” Karen Stintz, CEO, Variety Village.  

CNIB Ontario: 


“We support the Every Kid Counts campaign as it strives to close the gaps in the education system for children and youth living with disabilities, including those with sight loss, and empower families to make the best choices that meet the educational needs of their children.” Angela Bonfanti, Vice President, CNIB Foundation (Ontario & Quebec)   (read the endorsement letter)

Starts With Me: 

“Starts With Me creates platforms to support gaps in education and services in order to empower families and individuals to increase their capacity for well-being. We seek to communicate the youth voice to parents, teachers, service providers, youth organizations, and policymakers to improve the ethos of the mental health care system.  In my work as the founder and director of Starts With Me, I have had the honour to work with schools, parent groups, hospitals, and mental health agencies. Across the GTA and southern Ontario, I have seen that when kids have access to the right kind of supports, their innate potential shines through, thus increasing their capacity to live a meaningful life. It is for this reason that I sincerely support the mission of Every Kid Counts to ensure that all children with disabilities, including mental health issues, are given access to the educational supports and services they deserve." – Mike Stroh  Director, Starts With Me Inc.


Make a Difference - Add Your Name


Add your name here if you believe that every child, no matter their disability or circumstance, deserves the opportunity to thrive. Help us make sure that every kid counts in Ontario.


Disclaimer on Language:  Every Kid Counts recognizes the power of language in self-identification and we respect the right of those to self-identify as they wish. On our website and in our public advocacy, as much as possible, we have sought to adopt an inclusive approach, using the terms “disabilities” as well as “special needs." Furthermore, while we have adopted a person-first approach (“I am a child with autism”) we do acknowledge and are sensitive to those who prefer to identify using an identity-first approach (“I am autistic”).

Copyright 2017 Every Kid Counts