Kindergarten: Big changes underway for Ontario’s children!

Starting this September, kindergarten programs in 600 schools expanded from a 1/2 day to a full day and provided the option of fee-based before-and-after child care for families who need it.

This big change for four- and five-year-olds and, of course, their parents and caregivers, is the first phase of a plan that is slated for completion by 2016, when all schools will be delivering the full-day Early Learning Program.

The initiative began last year with release of a report by Dr. Charles Pascal “With Our Best Future in Mind: Implementing Early Learning in Ontario,” in which learning is seen as a continuum. The report contains recommendations for a comprehensive and integrated system for children from birth to age 12, and even beyond, into young adulthood.

The province has stated that the full-day early learning program is meant to free up child care spaces for younger children and provide a high-quality, public program in our schools: importantly, it has said there will be no net loss in child care spaces – rather, at the end of the reform, there should be more spaces available.

What will happen to existing community child care centres?

It is expected that existing centres will serve children from 0 – 4 years and from 6 – 12. Although the province has identified the need for transitional and capital funding for child care programs, agencies and organizations that operate not-for-profit child care centres warn that is it not enough. They will need to specialize, renovate and ensure staff training where necessary.

Because Ontario’s current child care programs will be so greatly affected in this first year transition to the 600 schools, the funding issue and its resolution are critical.

To learn more about the government of Ontario’s Full-day Early Learning Program, CLICK HERE

To read more about some of the issues and concerns associated with the planning and implementation, CLICK HERE