With funding from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, in 2000 the Early Childhood Resource Center was established as a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System*.  The primary offerings were Professional Development courses, child care accreditation courses, technical assistance and mentoring to those working in the early care and education field.

In 2010, The Early Childhood Resource Center launched a capital campaign to purchase a new building. Thanks to an outpouring of community support, the new center features an expanded children’s library and production/craft lab; a large classroom; and an indoor Inspiration Space and outdoor Playscape to support services to families as well as educators.

In 2011 the ECRC began working with families of young children focusing on parent engagement, education and support. This included offering parenting courses and mentoring both at the new building and in the surrounding neighborhoods. 

In 2013 the Early Childhood Resource Center became the manager and oversaw the SPARK program.

Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) is a family-focused, home visitation, kindergarten readiness program. With this free program, parent and child meet monthly with a specially trained SPARK Parent Partner.  The Parent Partner instructs the parent who works with the child at each lesson.  The families are provided books, supplies and resources.  The yearlong program focuses on academics along with activities that encourage emotional development, problem solving, communication skills, fine/gross motor skills, and self-help assistances. Additionally, the SPARK Parent Partners provide links to mental health resources, speech specialists, and in collaboration with local schools offer an introduction to kindergarten program.

The SPARK kindergarten readiness program was expanded to encompass school districts throughout the state of Ohio.

In 2014, the Division of Child Support partnered with the Early Childhood Resource Center to provide parenting education specifically for non-custodial fathers who were behind on their child support, which started an emphasis of providing programs for Fathers.  Followed by our partnership with the THRIVE project in 2016. Our role was to focus on young fathers to help ensure healthy babies by providing education and coping skills.

In July of 2017 the state of Ohio designated the Early Childhood Resource Center as the Child Care Resource and Referral agency for Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, and Trumbull counties. Throughout these counties, the Early Childhood Resource Center equips educators with the knowledge and resources they need to provide high-quality education and care, guides families as they search for the high-quality early childhood programs that meet their needs, and raises public awareness about the importance of early childhood development.  Satellite offices were opened in Akron and Austintown.

In January of 2020, the Early Childhood Resource Center expanded their Canton campus with a new building for the Professional Development team to conduct training, mentoring and coaching to those working in the early care and education field.  Celebrating 20 years, the campus is now a hub that will serve as a vibrant, family friendly community resource for a wide range of parents, early childhood professionals and community groups.

(*The Sisters of Charity Health System is a nonprofit organization that carries out the ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine)