Under the proposed new Early Learning & Child Care Act an Early Learning and Child Care Board will replace the current Child Care Facilities Board. This Board will continue to have the right refuse licenses for new child care programs. The criteria for how a "sufficient number of service providers" will be determined has not been released yet. The fact that the Board will continue to have the ability to refuse granting licenses will potentially have an impact on the choices that parents will have when it comes to child care options. Does the Preschool Excellence Initiative truly meet the child care needs for the Island? What do you think?
Under the proposed new Early Learning & Child Care Act it appears that there will be Child Care Inspectors. Are these new positions in government? Who will these Inspectors report to? What powers will they have?
Last week (November 17) Minister Doug Currie announced in the PEI Legislature notice of the Early Learning and Child Care Consultations that are currently underway. He made this announcement with less than one day's notice to the actual consultation meeting that was being held in Charlottetown. Shortly after, on Twitter, Island parents began asking questions related to what the consultation was all about and why there was such short notice given by the Minister. Parents wondered how they could learn more about what was happening.
Here is an excerpt from the Hansard which outlines what the Minister said.
Is this the only public consultation that is happening with respect to this newly proposed Act? If you are interested in learning more about the proposed Act where do you get more information? What experts are guiding this consultation process? How long is the consultatation being held for….or was that it – one night?
Since I am a long time advocate regarding early learning issues on PEI, I decided that I had better check into these issues further. So, I have tweeted @dougcurrie a number of questions related to the Act. I am hopeful he will respond. I also thought it best to see what the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development have posted on their website related to the consultation process. Upon visiting the government webpage for more information I have discovered that there is actually very little content available. A few fact sheets but nothing that explains the actual consultation process. No timeline. No guide regarding what to consider. Not much. The link where one can make comments or suggestions related to the proposed Early Learning & Child Care Act actually takes you to a form where you can report problems related to the PEI government website – it actually has nothing to do with the actual consultation process. Wow…now that's reassuring. I definately feel like my comments and feedback will make it to the right place.
So, while these consultations may be well intentioned they actually appear to lack information, substance, proper process or much else. This is truly disappointing as these proposed changes (whatever they actually are) will likely have serious impact on the Early Learning & Child Care field, parents and families on PEI.
Is this actually how proper public consultation is done?
Update: The Minister tweeted me this morning with a telephone number for me to call to request more details. I will do this today.
Expanded investments in the Child Care Subsidy Program will provide more low- and moderate-income Island families with equitable access to child-care services, says Community Services Minister Janice Sherry.
"We are pleased to provide further assistance to families who are currently assisted by the program and to extend the eligibility requirements to help more Island families with the costs of child care,” said Sherry. “The Child Care Subsidy Program also helps to support continued social and economic prosperity for Island families and communities.”
Effective Sept. 1, government will invest $300,000 into the Child Care Subsidy Program, as part of the Preschool Excellence Initiative. These investments will increase the per
diem rates for those who already receive support and will expand the income thresholds for the program, allowing more low- and moderate-income Island families to receive assistance and more children to receive access to child-care services in preparation for kindergarten.
Per diem subsidy rate changes:
● Infants: $30/day will increase to $32/day
● Two-year-olds: $23/day will increase to $26/day
● Three-year-olds to school-age: $22/day will increase to $25/day
Over 950 families received support through the Child Care
Subsidy Program in the month of July, which benefited nearly 1,500 Island children.
The Department of Community Services, Seniors and Labour
delivers the Child Care Subsidy Program to assist families with the costs of licensed child care. Subsidies are used to pay tuition costs for early childhood programs licensed by the Child Care Facilities Board. This includes early years centres, infant homes and private licensed child-care centres.
Any Island family needing financial support for child-care costs may apply. The Child Care Subsidy Program eligibility depends on the net monthly family income and is determined by a sliding scale income test based on family size.
For more information on the Child Care Subsidy Program, visit the department’s website at www.gov.pe.ca/sss.
The P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women released a critical assessment Thursday of government’s handling of changes to the early childhood sector, calling the tight transition timelines a source of undue stress for those affected.
The province announced sweeping changes to P.E.I.’s early learning system last month as its plan for the future of early childhood development on P.E.I. The centrepiece of the massive changes is a transition of current daycares into provincial Early Years Centres. These centres will charge regulated fees and will offer a standardized provincial curriculum.
But centres have only until July 1 to decide whether to become one of these larger provincial centres or remain as private operators. If they don’t decide by the province’s deadline, centres may not benefit from funds government has earmarked for transitional support.
The P.E.I. Advisory Council on the Status of Women released its Equality Report Card Interim Trends Report on Thursday. While it praises the province’s decision to bring kindergarten into the public system and the boosted investments and dedicated strategy for the early learning sector, the council is concerned about the way in which changes to the sector have been handled.
“At this point, many questions remain about how the early childhood sector will manage the substantial transitions it faces,” the report states.
“Children, parents and educators remain in states of insecurity and have little time to plan. Crucial questions remain to be answered about the viability of some — especially rural — childcare centres and about supports for children whose parents are still unable to afford access to childcare services.”
The short deadlines for transition and confusion about the process have resulted in “too much preventable stress for everyone involved” and government should have anticipated these challenges, the council’s report states.
Council chair Isabelle Christian said her members have been hearing from parents, childcare workers and operators who are confused about the changes and worried about the future of childcare in the province.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty, which I think is normal with change but could be helped a lot with a better communication strategy,” Christian said.
“They could have made the transition easier for people in the way that they communicated the changes and better supports for people during that change. In my reading I haven’t seen a lot of pieces of that in place. They could be there but we’d really like (government) to be more reassuring and make them highly visible.”
This year’s interim report doesn’t attach grades to the issues addressed, but does identify actions government could take over the next year to improve its equality grades.
The first and most pressing need is for more support for the early childhood sector, the council’s report states.
“Children, parents, educators and childcare centre owner/operators need to see government leadership so that truly positive outcomes from government’s historic investment in the early learning sector can be realized.”
The advisory council usually releases a report card assessing government’s progress toward women’s equality goals every year. Last year, council decided to wait two years before issuing its next report card in order to give government more time to implement real change. The next full report card will be released next June.
Cynthia Livingston loves being home with her two-month-old son Owen, but when her maternity leave runs out next April she doesn’t know if any childcare spaces will be available.
Infant care spaces on P.E.I. are extremely difficult to find. According to provincial data, of the estimated 2,948 full-time spaces across the province, only 192 are for children under two.
That’s why Livingston, like many parents, has her name on several childcare waiting lists. She had to start getting on those lists when she was still pregnant to have even a hope of getting an open space by the time she resumes work next spring.
Her choice program for little Owen is at the C.H.A.N.C.E.S. Family Centre in Charlottetown. She got on their list in November, but there are still over 100 people ahead of her.
She’s got her fingers crossed for C.H.A.N.C.E.S., especially because many of the early learning centres she called told her they couldn’t even put her on a wait list.
“I was just told ‘call back in June’ because they didn’t know if they would have anything available because they might close due to financial reasons,” Livingston said. “It made me feel really anxious because I have a year’s maternity and I know that I have to go back next April and if you’re on a waiting list it’s really just a waiting game.”
Livingston is not alone.
Parents across P.E.I. looking for child and infant care within the next year are finding their search confusing and difficult since most centres do not know how they will look or whether they will even remain open within the next few months.
The province announced sweeping changes to the early learning system on P.E.I. last week. Government plans to transition many daycares into provincial Early Years Centres. These centres will charge regulated fees, have certified staff, will be open year-round and will offer a provincially standardized curriculum.
Current childcare owners and operators have until July 1 to decide whether they want to transition into one of these provincial daycare centres or stay in the private sector.
The province also has a plan to deal with the childcare waiting lists. A centralized wait list will be created and managed by the Early Childhood Development Association (ECDA). But details about how it will operate and who will be given priority once the list is created have yet to be worked out.
“Whether you’d call your existing centre or how do we work together so that parents don’t have to make several calls to get on a waiting list — all those things will be worked out by ECDA and the advisory board to the (provincial preschool) initiative,” said Carolyn Simpson, government’s early childhood development and kindergarten manager.
Centres first need to identify what they will be doing before any next steps, like the centralized waiting list, can be developed, Simpson said. The list is not expected to be created until early fall.
In the meantime, parents like Livingston who need childcare spaces within the next year regardless of all these changes are left in limbo.
“It does make me anxious because I don’t know — should I start calling more private care or home care? I really like C.H.A.N.C.E.S. and I’d really like it if he could come here but there’s a good chance he won’t be able to just because of the numbers. Then where will he go?”
What are your questions regarding the changes that have been announced for the Child Care & Early Learning system on PEI? Is this REALLY what parents want? Is this REALLY what operators want? Join the Facebook discussion here.
This post out this afternoon from Robert Paterson is worth the read.
The New PEI Daycare System – Easy or Messy? #peiquestions
get the feeling that this is the kind of process that the consultant
and the folks over at the department and ECDA were hoping for. They
have set up a tight timetable and have offered a "forced choice" of in
or out to the operators.
But I think they have forgotten that
this will not be a simple or even a complicated process -
all knowable from the start. No because so many people and factors are
involved this is a complex process – unknowable from the outset and
only knowable from a process of trial and error.
Parents – So what are we hearing from Parents?
- My child is being born in August – can I find a place for him at
any time in the next 12 months – until now this was possible? The
answer is "NO!" The way the process has ben designed no parent has any
assurance of a place anywhere – no provider can offer that and no one
knows when they will be able to to. So what am I going to do?
- My child is in daycare now – what will happen this September? I
have a full time job and I have to know that I have this covered. The
answer is "NO!" we cannot tell you. No provider has a clue what they
will be doing this fall and nor can they. Will they know soon? Well
they are all meant to decide "In or Out" by July but with
their livelihood at stake and all their work and investment in play
this is too short a time for many.
- Who gets the subsidies? Won't this affect how many places and my
costs? What are the rules about the money and when will this be clear?
- Learning sounds good but what does this mean. My child will be only
2 or 3. Does this mean he will be in effect at "School"? You have to
tell me more about what he is going to be facing. His eldest sister is
in grade 8. She is already bored out of her mind – is this what
curriculum means? Are we merely moving a failing school system into the
pre school years?
- We live in a small rural area. Our daycare is close to home. They
tell me that they will have to join up with another one to make the
numbers – does this mean I will have to go 2 times the distance to got
to the new daycare? Does distance mean anything or is organizational
efficiency the key?
- I can't afford even the subsidized costs - maybe half the parents – does this mean my kids have no access?
- So there will be maybe 50 Centres – at 50 kids each that is 2,500
kids. But there are 4,000 kids who are between 0 – 4. What about the
What about Operators?
- How can a decision like this be made in a few weeks? So much is not
known. Partnering with other people is very hard at the best of times.
- If I make the decision to expand what are my risks? What can I know?
- How will centres be evaluated? Who willWho will evaluate me? A competitor? For that is the case right now.
- If the new wages are paid in the Centres how will other places cope with the increased costs if fees are capped?
- I run a very good centre now – I am full because parents know that
I offer a good service. If less well run places become centres what
will keep the quality up? Schools are all inspected but we all now that
there is a wide range of quality – what is the real incentive to be
These are just some of the questions that I have heard from you – what are yours?
The Twitter hastag will be #peiquestions
These latest findings from the Early Child Care Research Network — a federally funded research project into American childcare that was launched in 1991 — expand on those from an earlier study that examined the impact of childcare quality on 4½-year-olds about to enter kindergarten. As lead author Deborah Lowe Vandell, chairwoman of the department of education at the UC Irvine told the Journal:
"The effects didn't fade away… Lots of things change after [age] four and a half. We would have expected [the effects] went away."
The early benefit seen by age 4½ seems to persist through adolescence, the researchers found. Yet, in addition to tracking long-term academic benefits of high-quality care, the study also revealed that children who spent time in childcare were more slightly likely to engage in impulsive or risky behavior than those who did not attend childcare outside of the home. As the Los Angeles Times explains:
"In terms of risk-taking, the link to time spent in day care was more marginal: Ten more hours a week in day care prompted the average teen to answer one out of 30 questions with an admission of more risky behavior."
One study followed 1,300 children from their births in 1991 till the time they turned 15.
It found teens that attended child-care centres with higher-quality programs scored better on tests of cognitive and academic achievement than those who attended programs with lower-quality care.
The teens in higher quality daycare centres also had fewer behavioural problems such as rule breaking, arguing and hanging out with peers who get into trouble.
The finding was consistent among children from middle-class, low-income, two-parent as well as single-parent families.
"This evidence of long-term effects of early child-care quality is noteworthy because it occurred in a large economically and geographically diverse group of children," notes study author Deborah Lowe Vandell, a professor and chair of education at the University of California, Irvine.
However, teens that spent the most hours in child care during their first 4½ years reported more risk-taking behaviour and greater impulsivity than those who spent less time in child care.
The second study followed 1,300 children from birth to the fifth grade.
It found parents who visited their child's school and encouraged educational progress in the home had children with fewer behavioural and emotional problems.
The study shows those children had fewer aggressive and disruptive behaviours, and less anxiety and depression.
At the same time so-called pro-social skills such as co-operation and self-control were higher.
However, the high rate of parental involvement didn't seem to improve a child's academic achievement.
The second study was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh.
Both studies are published in the May/June issue of the journal Child Development.