We are a charity dedicated to supporting young children, ages 3 to 5, who are considered “at risk.” Many of these children experience developmental delays of up to 90% in areas such as behavior, motor skills, and speech, though most do not have neurological impairments.

Nearly 20 years ago, our founder Ilona Boyce recognized a critical need for additional support for children from backgrounds of poverty and trauma. These young children, often coming from families facing neglect, abuse, or poverty, were frequently left behind. On average, they were 70 to 90 percent behind in typical development. Living in a state of constant stress and fear, their brains were not receptive to learning, causing them to fall further behind. Without intervention, these children faced significant challenges by Grade 3, with their window of learning severely compromised.

At EvenStart, we provide a safe and predictable environment where children can thrive. Our program focuses on building relationships with each child, which we believe is the foundation for trust. Once trust is established, we teach traditional academic subjects like the alphabet and numbers, but our instruction goes beyond that. We also emphasize problem-solving and making good choices.

We teach children practical life skills, such as using tools in a sandbox to build things rather than as weapons. We ensure they have plenty of food, as many of these children experience constant hunger.

Above all, we focus on building relationships. It is through these connections that change begins. We teach children to:

  • Use their words instead of their fists.
  • Reach out in trust, not fear, to adults in their lives.
  • Understand that it is okay to grieve for what they have lost.

We do all of this with respect for each child’s family. At EvenStart, we see every parent as a human being who needs recognition for who they are, rather than judgment for who they are not. The struggles of these parents, who often mirror their own difficult realities, are reflected in their children’s lives. Their efforts to protect and provide are often hindered by their own experiences of not being cared for or protected.

Many of our children’s parents are adults who grew up without the help they needed. They often face depression, poverty, substance abuse, and sometimes mental illness. They cannot give what they themselves have never received.

With your help, we hope to break this cycle for the next generation of children.