The First Words Preschool Speech and Language Program of Ottawa (First Words) is led by Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre (PQCHC) and works in close collaboration with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). In order to provide the best care to your child, the teams from these organizations may share information with each other.

The First Words’ Communication Checkup screening tool is available to families living in Ottawa with a child from birth to eligibility for Senior Kindergarten.
Completion of the First Words’ Communication Checkup is optional. The Communication Checkup is of value to our team because it gives us information about your child’s milestones and helps direct you to the most suitable agency to support your child. It also begins the referral process to our programs to access an assessment for your child. If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development but do not want to complete the Communication Checkup, you may call the Access Team at CHEO to make a self-referral (613-737-2757).

In addition to speech and language milestones, the Communication Checkup looks at different areas of development such as; communication, social and fine/gross motor skills and red flags. Based on your child’s age and your answers, the screening can help determine the need for a speech and language assessment, developmental or psychological assessment. The results from the Communication Checkup will, if needed, help to refer you to the most suitable agency to help your child.

The Communication Checkup is a screening tool not a diagnostic test. If you do not agree with the results or still have concerns regarding your child’s development, we urge you to speak to your child’s primary health care provider to determine how best to support your child. The Communication Checkup is based on English and French developmental milestones. This screening tool may not be 100% reflective of a child’s development in other languages or cultures.

Based on your answers, the results of the Communication Checkup may recommend that you:

  1. Complete a new screening at your child’s next milestone. Optional: sign-up for email reminders.
  2. See your child’s primary health care provider to discuss the areas of development highlighted on your results not related to speech and language.
  3. Self-refer to the Access Team at CHEO for a speech and language, developmental or psychological assessment.

When you have completed the Communication Checkup, you will have an option to have the results emailed to you. To ensure privacy, the results will be available to you only at that time as a download. Once you have accessed the emailed results, the link will be disabled. There are more details about this is the section Emails below.

The Communication Checkup tool was developed to be used by parents/legal guardians living in Ottawa. At times, parents/legal guardians may require support from a professional to complete the Communication Checkup. Professionals who are assisting these individuals must ensure that the parent/legal guardian of the child being screened is both informed and present while the screening is being completed.

The Communication Checkup was developed for use by parents/legal guardians. The tool may be used by Early Learning and Care professionals for the purpose of screening a child in their care. Should the screening results indicate a referral is needed; the professional completing the screening must inform the family, print a copy of the screening to provide to the parent so they may begin their referral.

At no time, shall the professional begin the referral process on behalf of the parent without their explicit consent. Starting the referral without parental consent is a breach of the family`s privacy.

The professional who is completing the Communication Checkup is the Health Information Custodian and is responsible for its safe keeping according to PHIPA laws in place to protect personal health information.

We are committed to keeping your information safe and confidential. We follow the rules set out in law about collecting, using and disclosing your personal information.
To ensure the protection of your personal information, we have :
• Privacy policies in place.
• Appointed a Privacy Officer to answer your concerns or inquiries.
• Set up safeguards to protect how your information is stored in our database and in the handling of paper files, electronic and verbal personal information.

During the Communication Checkup, you will be asked to provide us with minimal personal information such as your postal code and your child’s date of birth to ensure that your child is eligible to receive services from our program.

If the results from the Communication Checkup recommend a referral, you will be asked to provide us with additional personal information (optional) that will be shared with our partners (PQ/CHEO). This will support your child’s referral to the most suitable agency for assessment.

If you do not want to share your personal information, you will be given other options to access an assessment with the agency most suited to your child’s needs.

Any personal information you provide us will be used for the sole purpose of (1) completing the Communication Checkup, (2) informing the Access Team at CHEO of your referral result (optional) and (3) for evaluation purposes.

The personal information you have provided us will be sent through secure fax ( to the Access Team at CHEO and then destroyed in our system.
Your Personal Health Information (PHI) will be stored in a secure cloud in accordance with privacy laws for a period of 1 year before it is destroyed.

Once the agency has obtained the information, it will be securely stored in your child’s medical record at CHEO. As provided in these Terms and Conditions, such information will never be distributed to a third party and it will never be publicly visible without your express written consent.

If a Referral result is received, you will be asked to download and submit documents to the Access Team at CHEO to start your referral. Should you not want to download the documents, call 613-737-2757 to request the intake package by mail.

Details that you provide on this form will be added to the Province of Ontario’s Health Child Development database and will also become part of your child’s medical record at CHEO.

If you choose, your email will be used to send you a copy of your screening answers and results. The results will be available to you as a one-time download. Once you have accessed the results, the link will be disabled. The email will include only your child’s first name, the date the screening was completed and their approximate age. You may also opt-in to receive periodic email reminders to complete a new screening as your child grows. You may opt-out of receiving these emails at any time.

If you have any questions about privacy, please email our Privacy Officer at

All of the content contained on the First Words website is edited, checked, and verified for accuracy as much as it is possible to do so. However, we cannot guarantee either its accuracy or the safety of any external links it might contain. The First Words website, as well as its owners, affiliates and contributing authors can therefore not be held responsible for any problems or damage that occurs as a result of making use of material contained on our site.

Any and all of the content presented on the website is, unless explicitly stated otherwise, subject to a copyright held by First Words Preschool Speech and Language Program of Ottawa. It is permissible to link to content from this site as long as the original source is clearly stated, but the wholesale reproduction or partial modification of content is not permitted. Exceptions are granted only if you receive prior written consent from First Words.

Should you have any further questions, concerns, or queries about these Terms and Conditions, or if you encounter difficulties while using the site, please contact

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