Some of you will recall that I wrote a post last week on the revised vision that I have developed for myself and much of my work. In my post I explained that:
Moving forward my time and related energies will be focused on living, laughing and earning by building connections, facilitating conversations and leading change to make the world a much better place for kids and families. I also plan to spend much more time exploring and writing about the intersection between our work lives and personal lives and the role that technology/social media plays in everything we do.
A new vision always sounds great...but sometimes it is nothing more than words. In my case, I want to be very open and accountable about what I am doing and also about where I am going. I also wanted to immediately connect my vision to moving toward outcomes. You see, if a vision is only words - without the actions to bring it to life; then it really means nothing at all. In order to support my efforts of moving toward achieving the above vision it has helped to begin launching new things.
Here is what the site looks like as of today.
Clearly, the site is still very much in the design and development stages. All of that said, what I really wanted to do was to begin to build interest and also put a stake in the ground about the fact that something great is going to be happening online in Canada related to the field of Early Learning & Child Care. As such, I followed along the lines of what others such as AJ Leon - Pursuit of Everything & Greg Hartle - New Methods have done to prepare for the launch of their own new sites. Initially they have been sharing a limited amount of information on their new site landing pages. In the meantime; they have been working very hard to raise awareness, build interest and create a following. All of these things will ultimately support the communities that they wish to build. Assuming that they will have products to sell on their sites one day; then their community supporters stand a good chance of eventually also purchasing products or services from them. Behind the scenes of Early Learning & Child Care Canada, I have been doing a lot of this same type of work. As I move forward, I am integrating what I learn from this feedback into the initial design and features for the site. I also asking questions and then listening, listening and doing more listening. I plan to meet with many of the folks that I think this community will appeal to and I will be using their feedback to determine much of what the site will offer. Eventually, I will also work on ways to create opportunities for online connections to evolve to also include offline relationship building; though recognize this will be a long term effort that will likely evolve over time. I have also launched a Facebook Page:
And just yesterday got a new Twitter account underway:
One of my key goals for this project is to also gather ongoing feedback, support and ideas from people who visit my www.boydjane.ca website and also from the various social media and online communities that I am part of. To date; I have found members of these communities to be exceptionally supportive and really willing to help me reach for my vision. It only makes sense to continue to do this; as I know it will truly help me create that very best online community for the Canadian Early Learning & Child Care field. When you are building community online what key strategies do you use? What should I be paying the most attention to in the very early days of developing this community?
Did you know that it was the International Day of Peace this week on September 21, 2010?
The International Day of Peace, also known as the World Peace Day, occurs annually on September 21. It is dedicated to peace, or specifically the absence of war, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone. It is observed by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples. The first year this holiday was celebrated was 1981. To inaugurate the day, the "Peace Bell" is rung at UN Headquarters. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents. It was given as a gift by the Diet of Japan, and is referred to as "a reminder of the human cost of war." The inscription on its side reads: "Long live absolute world peace.
If you have a have a child who attends a Montessori school it is very likely that the participated in Peace Day celebrations. Below are some updates on celebrations that were held this week at Montessori schools in New Zealand and the United States.
Is there anything that could be better than teaching young children from early on about how to problem solve in a peaceful way? Peace is something that we all strive for around the world. Maria Montessori believed that world peace began with the children.
"Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war."
"If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men."
"The first idea the child must acquire is that of the difference between good and evil."
"Within the child lies the fate of the future."
Maria's words remain as true today as when she first wrote them. It is for all of these reasons that teaching, practicing and celebrating peace with young children is so important.
From New Zealand -
Healing Trees for Peace
Gusty winds didn't deter hardy locals who turned out at Queen's Park yesterday to take part in Peace Day celebrations.
Three ginkgo trees were planted at the park during the festivities organised by Operation Peace Through Unity (OPTU) and United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNANZ) Wanganui. That was followed by a performance by students from Wanganui Montessori Preschool and a minute's of silence for peace at midday.
UNANZ local president Kate Smith said the trees were chosen as a symbol of peace for their healing properties. The trees also mark the beginning of the Trees for Peace movement, which plans to plant 141 more throughout Wanganui by October 2, the birthday of peace advocate Mahatma Ghandi.
Wanganui District Council representative Nicki Higgie, Montessori Preschool teacher Polly Allen and Wanganui High School student Meredith Paterson planted the trees, with a little help from some pre-school students.
Light a Candle for Peace
The first notes rang out at 6 p.m. Monday Central time at Montessori schools in New Zealand.
By 11 a.m. Tuesday, "Light a Candle for Peace" was being sung by children at the Montessori Habitat School in Champaign, more than halfway around the globe.
Montessori schools joined together Tuesday to "Sing peace around the world" as a tribute to the United Nations' International Day of Peace, and to the memory of Maria Montessori and other peace activists.
The singing started in New Zealand, then was picked up by school after school across time zones – 80,000 children in 35 countries – so that it would circle the globe in 24 hours.
In the United States
The Greatest of all Time was a big hit at Louisville's JFK Montessori School Tuesday morning. Muhammad Ali and the Ali Center announced the global launch of the Muhammad Ali Peace Gardens.
It's an effort to teach children how to build gardens as a way to learn more about respect for diverse cultures and nutrition. The students enjoyed their time with Ali, as they shared their stories and showed off their own garden.
Greg Roberts of the Muhammad Ali Center explained, "What a wonderful opportunity that we have now that Muhammad Ali Peace Gardens will be all over the world, and that the kids here started it. So when we talk about Louisville as a Possibility City, it is possible, and that it all started here, and it started with you."
Yum Brands and Whole Foods are partners in making the project a success. Story here.
Pinwheels for Peace
Although the international peace symbol is older than their parents, students at First Montessori School of Atlanta incorporated it into their artwork for Pinwheels for Peace. On Sept. 21, students, ages 6-14, placed approximately 200 pinwheels in front of their campus to mark the International Day of Peace. FMSA is located at 5750 Long Island Drive in Atlanta.
Started in 2005 by two Florida teachers, Pinwheels for Peace has grown substantially over the years. Children and adults planted 3 million pinwheels around the world in 2009.
"This project is an excellent way for students to express their feelings about what is going on around the world and in their lives," says Jerri King, head of schools at First Montessori School of Atlanta. "Global awareness and mutual respect are two of the school's core values. Pinwheels for Peace is not a political statement. Pinwheels remind us of a time as children when things were simple, joyful and peaceful."
Art teacher Theresa Dean coordinated the FMSA project. Students wrote their thoughts about war, peace, tolerance and living in harmony with others on one side of the pinwheel. On the other side, they drew, painted or collaged something that expresses their feelings. Imagination, creativity and a mild breeze are the only requirements.
"The pinwheels spinning in the wind will hopefully spread thoughts and feelings about peace throughout the country and the world," explains Dean. Story here.
The province’s long-awaited plan to revitalize the early childhood sector will finally be released to the public today.
The Early Years Report will reveal government’s plan to help the struggling sector and detail how $7 million dedicated to the sector in the recent provincial budget will be allocated.
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Doug Currie has been loath to give any details about the plan before the official release of the report, but he did say the strategy would include a boost in wages for early childhood educators.
Early childhood educators, daycare operators and parents have been eagerly awaiting this strategy since last July when Kindergarten Commissioner Pat Mella’s report on the rollout of kindergarten into the public school system was released.
The move of kindergarten into schools has created a major strain on the early childhood sector.
Over 100 early childhood educators (ECEs) have left P.E.I. daycare centres to take better-paying jobs in the public system as kindergarten instructors. That has left a concerning gap in licensed educators for Island daycares.
Now many centres, especially those in rural P.E.I., are facing imminent closure if financial support and trained teaching staff isn’t injected into the sector soon.
But there are also parents who are concerned about children who don’t attend childcare centres. They are hoping government’s early childhood development strategy will include supports for all children on P.E.I., regardless of whether they attend daycare.
“We’re really hoping to see much more reference to a comprehensive approach to the early years,” said Jane Boyd, president of the childcare advocacy group Parents for Choice and Quality.
Many parents can’t afford to put their children in licensed childcare facilities, so if the government focuses its support only on the sector of early learning operators and educators, children who attend unlicensed centres or who stay home with parents will fall through the cracks, Boyd said.
“We really hope there will be components of the government’s early learning action plan that will address the needs of those children too because, let’s face it, the majority of children on P.E.I. are not in licensed childcare … there are so many young vulnerable children on P.E.I. and we remain concerned about what is the plan so that there is a comprehensive approach that reaches all children.”
Sonya Corrigan, executive director of the Early Childhood Development Association (ECDA), told The Guardian last April she hopes government’s early childhood plan will help make quality childcare more accessible for all families.
“Children and families deserve to have access to early learning opportunities in all communities,” Corrigan told The Guardian when the provincial budget was released in April. “Unfortunately affordability has been a huge barrier to that as well as access to service, so we hope that as we go forward we’re going to put systems in place that will eliminate the affordability factor and increase accessibility.”
The plan will be announced at a 10 a.m. news conference at Park Royal Church in Charlottetown.
From HELP website:
The government of B.C. has committed to lowering the provincial rate of early vulnerability to 15% by fiscal year 2015. This goal is both commendable and achievable.
With support from the Business Council of British Columbia, United Way of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Foundation, HELP has completed a groundbreaking research project that quantifies the costs and benefits of addressing early vulnerability in BC.
The resulting report 15 by 15: A Comprehensive Policy Framework for Early Human Capital Investment in BC dramatically illustrates why all of us – individuals, businesses and governments – should care about the real brain drain in BC today resulting from early vulnerability.
Here is the 2009 Strategic Plan for BC that shows the goal of reducing early vulnerability in young children to 15% by 2015. See page 22 Download Strategic_Plan_Sept_2009
From Vancouver Sun, April 20, 2010 - Written by Paul Kershaw
Many Canadians tell a common story, about how we want our kids and grandchildren to have more than we do. I hear it from my parents and their friends, all fine members of the baby boom generation. As individuals, these people have worked hard, reared children -- they've contributed.
But, as a generation, whenever baby boomers tell the story about leaving more for those who come after them, the story is fiction, not fact.
Think about it. Canadian baby boomers are a generation that inherited little public debt. But as they ponder retirement, the federal and provincial debt loads both top 30 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.
Baby boomers inherited little environmental degradation. But they preside over a country that is now identified as a fossil fuel dinosaur by the international community.
Debt and global climate change are problems left for future generations to solve. This alone signals an issue of intergenerational justice that merits far more attention than it receives. Boomers consume beyond what they pay for, and beyond the pace at which the Earth can restock resources for those who follow.
Regrettably, these are not the only examples of intergenerational tension. Through no fault of their own, the potential of the next generation to address the challenging legacy left to them is being handicapped by a policy context largely designed and implemented by baby boomers.
How do we know what policy choices are compromising the ability of the next generation? For a decade, University of B. C researchers at the Human Early Learning Partnership, a world-renowned Global Knowledge Hub in research about the social determinants of child development, have worked with kindergarten teachers in almost all classrooms, in all school districts around the province. The data we collect show that 29 per cent of B.C. children are vulnerable before they reach kindergarten. By vulnerable, I don't mean that kindergarten kids aren't the next Mozart or Einstein. Rather, vulnerable children struggle with one or more age appropriate tasks, such as holding a pencil, climbing stairs, following instructions from teachers, getting along on the playground and knowing 10 letters.
You might think that child vulnerability is primarily a problem for the income-poor. But it's not. The majority of vulnerable B.C. children reside in middle-or upper-income households and neighbourhoods. Early vulnerability is a problem for mainstream families.
What is behind all this early vulnerability? The answer is that, compared with other countries, we don't invest much to support families to access the time, resources and community services they need to fulfil their caregiving and earning responsibilities. The fact is that Canada consistently places near, or at, the bottom of UNICEF and other international rankings of child care, early learning, work-life balance and family poverty policies. But most Canadians don't know this fact.
Why don't we know? Part of the reason is that we are a boomercentric society. Much of our policy debate is dominated by issues that speak to the aging demographic, especially medical care and pensions. It happened again at the end of March: Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that his government was revisiting whether the country's retirement income system needs improvement. Opposition members responded by lamenting the slow pace of government efforts to fix the alleged pension problem.
Pensions are being prioritized (again!) by the government and opposition alike, even though the finance minister concedes that the Canadian system is considered strong by international standards.
Without doubt, we can and should ensure our pension system remains near the top of the international ranking. Baby boomers have every reason to desire a comfortable retirement. But where is the debate about policy issues for which Canada is ranked badly? We may have owned the podium at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but time and time again, research shows that we can't even see the podium when it comes to family policy for young kids. When do we question our poor standing on this issue in the House of Commons, or the legislature?
I believe boomers genuinely want to leave more to their children and grandchildren than they have enjoyed. The story they tell themselves is not intended to be fiction. Although the generation's record of accomplishment on this front is weak so far, and the debt and global climate change are massive problems they leave for the future, there remains time for boomers to fix one major intergenerational problem: They can undo decisions which tolerate nearly 30 per cent of the next generation reaching school in a vulnerable condition. For this, we must move beyond the boomercentrism that guides our priority-setting to invest in the smart family policy parents require now, and that children deserve.
Paul Kershaw teaches at the University of British Columbia. He is one of Canada's leading thinkers about family policy.
Project Coordinator, Jane Boyd, couldn’t be more pleased with the team she has put in place for this project. She states that, “Collectively, our team has over 50 years of experience related to work life issues traversing across family, childcare, eldercare, health and human resources.” Boyd has been actively involved in the early learning field and family related policy on the Island since 2007. She is particularly pleased to have Rob Paterson, a leading advisor on social networks and on how human culture operates, serving as a project advisor. Based in PEI, his work flows between organizational design, research and the web 2.0 world. Paterson is pleased to be involved in this innovative project. He says, “The stage is set to utilize social networks and technology in gaining a national perspective around the issues and solutions for Canadian’s juggling work and caregiving responsibilities.” Paterson goes on to state, “Our hope is that we engage the hearts and minds of employers and employees as we venture on this journey of discovery. This journey will encompass the value of social media, collaborative stories and action.” In addition, the project's research partner, University of Guelph’s Centre for Families Work and Wellbeing, will be pivotal in ensuring that the discoveries are solid and useful in creating a less stressful experience for Canadian’s who provide care while employed. The Centre for Families Work and Wellbeing has already conducted extensive research in this area. In addition, they are very familiar with international best practice around this issue.
Members of the Project Team Include:
Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program, this three year project will aim to support employers in becoming best practice employers around the dual roles faced by many Canadian’s. By engaging employers, employees and service providers, the hope is that the resulting conversation will create innovative workplace supports, tools and resources that will assist employees who face the dual role of work and caring for their children, elders and other family members.To register or for more information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited. You can also learn more at our Caring Coast to Coast Facebook Page.
It’s an investment opportunity like no other. A chance to secure a brighter economic future by investing in tomorrow’s community leaders, today.
It’s called Early Childhood Development (ECD), and rather than measuring the return on investment in dollars and cents, Charlie Coffey, a director with the Council for Early Child Development, calls it a return on society.
At a Wednesday breakfast meeting at Best Western Vernon Lodge, Coffey, a retired executive for government affairs and business development for RBC, spoke to local community leaders about the importance of investing in ECD.
The first six years of a child’s development are crucial for lifelong learning, health and behaviour. More specifically, these formative years are where children develop cognition, language, motor skills, adaptive skills and social-emotional functioning.
Using recent research, Coffey explained the potential benefits of supporting ECD, and the pitfalls of choosing to ignore it. Citing a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, he explained how a $1 investment in high-quality early childhood learning can yield a $17 return down the road.
“If we don’t get it right in the early years, there’s a huge cost later on... incarceration, dropouts, special education, intervention programs, those sorts of things,” said Coffey, who also spoke in Salmon Arm on his Okanagan visit.
“If you want an idea of what your economy will look like in 15 years, take a look at what you’re investing in ECD today.”
An advocate in this field for more than 15 years, Coffey says Canada has dropped the ball in its support of early child development programs.
In a review of 14 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, Canada, investing just 0.25 per cent of its GDP, ranked last in terms of spending on early childhood education and care. By comparison, Denmark topped the chart at 2 per cent, eight times more than Canada.
In UNICEF’s Report Card on early child education and care in the world’s 25 affluent most nations, Canada was last again.
“When I read that, I was a bit angry. Why are we allowing this to happen?” asked Coffey. “There should be more significant change than what we are seeing in this province and country.”
On a provincial level, things aren’t much better. Research conducted by the University of British Columbia’s Human Early Learning Partnership shows that 29 per cent of children entering kindergarten don’t meet the developmental benchmarks needed to thrive in the classroom.
The study also indicates children coming from low economic backgrounds are most at risk, but the majority of vulnerable children in B.C. come from middle-class backgrounds.
To counteract this, the B.C. government is implementing its 15 by 15 policy, which aims to ensure 85 percent of all children entering kindergarten in 2015 will be ready to learn.
Coffey says the solution isn’t all that difficult. It’s just a matter of getting people on the same page.
“This is not complex. (We need) to show support for the people who are dealing with the community’s most precious resource, the children... getting different people at the same table.
“It might be uncomfortable for an ECD educator to meet with the chamber of commerce people. If you get the right environment, you can get the community focus together and talk about developing a vision.”
Lynne Reside, coordinator of the North Okanagan Early Childhood Development Coalition, says her organization is an ideal platform to get community leaders together. The range of attendees at Coffey’s speech was proof of that, as representatives from the school district, Interior Health, childcare agencies, the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce and the City of Vernon were all there.
Wages are the top priority for people working in P.E.I.'s child care centers, but they will have to wait to see how the government intends to spend $2.5 million promised them in the budget.
In a media briefing in advance of his budget speech Friday, Finance Minister Wes Sheridan said the years from birth to age four are the most important in a child's development. The budget contained $2.5 million in new spending for early childhood education, but Sheridan said negotiations over how it would be spent were ongoing.
Jamie McQuaid is keen to hear where the money will go. She has worked as an early childhood educator for five years. She is now working at Parkdale-Sherwood Headstart, and makes the average wage in P.E.I. daycares, about $12 an hour.
"If you're in it for the money you're not in the right career," McQuaid told CBC News Monday.
"It's the love of teaching and learning along with the children every day that keeps me going."
McQuaid would like to be earning as much as her sister, who works in retail. (CBC)
While McQuaid recognizes there is no shortage of places the promised money could be spent, she said wages need to be the top priority.
"It'd be nice to start somewheres around $18 and then kind of work your way up," she said.
"My sister now works in retail and she makes more than I did, starting out, and she has benefits, and I don't have benefits."
Carol Ford, McQuaid's manager, agrees wages should be on the top of the list.
"My wages would be my first choice," said Ford.
"I would like the special needs grant amount to go up, and I would like a sustainable system, in order for wages to go up."
Even parents picking up their children at Headstart Monday agreed wages are too low.
"Nobody wants to go to work for barely minimum wage or just over it," said Kim Doyle.
"They need to have the money to keep them in the field."
While wages of are considered a priority even amongst parents, people with several pre-school-age children are also concerned about the cost, which at Headstart is $28 dollars a day per child.
"We have three small children, it's a lot of money to be out per day," said Lynn Smith
"I think if the money was given to the centre itself, then maybe the fees per day could decrease a little bit."
The provincial government is expected to make an announcement about how the money in the budget will be spent some time in the next week or two.
Ontario Passes Full-Day Learning Act
April 27, 2010 12:00 PM
McGuinty Government Also Takes Key Steps To Stabilize Child Care And Improve The Delivery Of Children's Services
Ontario is one step closer to implementing full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds across the province.
Earlier today, the legislature passed the Full-Day Early Learning Statute Law Amendment Act, 2010. The legislation included a number of amendments, such as clarifying the roles of teachers and early childhood educators in full-day early learning classrooms.
In addition, the government will address the need for child care centres to have the flexibility they need as four- and five-year-olds move into the integrated before- and after-school program.
Ontario is also supporting the child care sector and will help improve the delivery of other children's services in a number of ways, including:
- Providing stabilization funding. This will be phased in over the period of implementation, growing to $51 million annually at full implementation to help stabilize child care centres as four- and five-year-olds move into the full-day learning program.
- Providing $12 million over five years to help non-profit child care centres make retrofits and renovations to serve younger children.
- Transferring child care policy and program responsibilities to the Ministry of Education from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to facilitate smoother transitions for children from the child care system to the education system.
Full-day early learning is a key part of the government's Open Ontario plan to strengthen education in Ontario. It will increase student achievement, build a stronger workforce and help break the cycle of poverty.
- Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten, assisted by Dr. Charles Pascal, will take the lead to bring about integrated services for parents of infants and young children so they can access them in a more co-ordinated, timely and efficient way.
- Full-day learning will be offered in nearly 600 schools in September 2010.
- Teachers and early childhood educators in full-day learning classrooms will be guided by the new Full-Day Early Learning - Kindergarten Program.
- Subsidies will be available, based on need, for some families who need help with the cost of the extended-day program.
- The full-day early learning program will be supported by a team of teachers and early childhood educators with approximately 26 kids per classroom.
The Canadian Child Care Federation has released a new corporate video "We Value Children." It is designed to demonstrate the importance of early learning and child care and practitioners.
So "informed rumour" has it that the Government of PEI may once again be considering placing a cap on child care spaces or a freeze on any new child care licenses as part of the anticipated announcements that are coming related to the early learning sector. Why am I not surprised? This idea seems to keep resurfacing as though it is the answer that is going to save the child care and early learning sector on PEI. Being an Early Childhood Educator myself I do agree that there are a great many changes that are happening in the sector that are serious. Yes, it is a challenging time - HOWEVER - let me once again spell out why placing a freeze on new spaces is not the answer:
While there are many programs on the Island that offer high quality services to families and children, the truth is that there are also some who are not of this standard. In the areas where this exists - and if these are the only programs in that community - it means that families virtually have no other child care choice. If they require child care to work or attend school they are faced with having to "settle" for what is available. By placing a cap on spaces, PEI will be protecting programs that may be of a lesser quality. Unfortunately, there is no easy or politically correct way to state this, but it is the reality. By protecting all programs, there will be virtually no incentive for programs to improve or enhance their offerings. Why would they need to? It is not like there will be any new competition coming into the area for parents to make comparisons to. With all that we know about the importance of the Early Years, creating a system that actually protects marginal quality early learning environments is NOT appropriate nor acceptable. Simply put, this is not in the best interests of children or families. We must do all that we can to ensure that ALL Island children have access to high quality early learning experiences in all Island communities. This is critical to ensure school readiness and the ability for children to meet the necessary learning outcomes later in life. Further, if no new programs are allowed to come into an area then parental choice will eventually become much more limited than it already is. This is not a good thing either. Child care, as it stands today, is a market based system and it would not be appropriate for the government to start limiting where or when new services can be created or opened.
It is critical that Prince Edward Island look at the much larger picture of how the Early Years are being addressed and supported overall. PEI needs an Island wide Early Years Strategy. I have written about this multiple times. Let's be clear, there is much work to be done to ensure that young children and their families have access to all of the necessary supports and services that they need as their children grow - this includes access to high quality, affordable child care.
Government energies would be better spent implementing ways to improve program quality levels, attracting more qualified early childhood educators to the Island, reaching out to families whose children are not in licensed child care programs and by ensuring that all Island children have access to a full range of early learning opportunities and services BEFORE they reach the public school system. These things would accomplish far more than would placing a cap on new child care spaces and program openings.
Here is some further history on this issue - which has been an ongoing challenge for several years now.
You may recall the recent posts on this blog regarding the issue of capping child care spaces on Prince Edward Island. In one of these posts I noted:
"So - let's just be clear on something here - placing a cap on the number of child care centres will protect child care operators NOT children. Placing a cap on spaces is only about the needs of operators - it is NOT about the needs of children and families. Placing a cap on spaces is absolutely NOT the way to enhance the level of quality of early learning environments on PEI."
After Parent's for Choice and Quality wrote letters to the editors of several Island papers we were contacted by Stephen Brun who writes for the Eastern Graphic. He was interested in our concerns related to capping spaces. Last week he wrote a follow-up article about all of this. I have placed a copy of the article below. You will note that one of the quoted child care operator feels that Parent's for Choice and Quality is somewhat uninformed about what is involved with operating Island child care facilities.
Below is a copy of the story that ran in Eastern Graphic in March 2009 on this issue.
I feel that it is important to state that as President of Parents for Choice and Quality, I am clearly aware of the great many concerns and challenges that Island child care operators are facing. The provision of child care and early learning programs is both challenging and complex. I do truly believe that there are many Operators who do all that they can to help children and families. They care - I understand that and I admire them for that. It is important to note that I, myself, have been an Operator and Supervisor of child care on Prince Edward Island. Given this, I have a full understanding of what it means when a program is not filled to capacity and how this can place services at risk. Despite knowing all of this, I still feel that placing a cap on the number of spaces available on the Island is not the answer.
From Eastern Graphic - March 18, 2009
Capping daycare spaces not the answer, group says
By Stephen Brun
Placing a limit on the number of daycare centres that can open in the province could hinder the quality of care children receive, says a group representing some parents. Jane Boyd and April Ennis, directors of Parents for Choice and Quality, responded to a February 25 story in The Eastern Graphic which included some daycare operators in eastern Kings County calling on government to cap the number of centres that could open in a given area based on low enrollment numbers.
Ms Boyd said better steps need to be taken to ensure high-quality programming, rather than limiting a parent’s choice of daycare centres.
“If we reduce the number of centres, we reduce quality levels and we reduce parent choice,” she said. “I understand the concerns operators have and I’m very clear on what the issues are, but it’s like a pendulum – it can swing one way or the other. These are private service providers so, when it comes to legislated caps, there’s probably a line the legislation shouldn’t cross.”
Parents for Choice and Quality was created in February 2008 when the Province attempted to change legislation to cap child care space on the Island.
Part of a letter to the editor from the group, published in the March 4 Graphic, states: “To suggest that the government should change the legislation to allow for a cap on the number of child care spaces and centres in a given area is purely about the needs of the operators and is not about the needs of the children and families…it is absolutely not the way to enhance the quality level of early learning environments on PEI”.
Norma Brown, owner of Child’s Play daycare in Fortune, who was one of the operators to call for a cap, said the group’s assumption that the workers are protecting themselves is false.
“Those people really don’t know how much we go out of our way to help parents and children, “ Ms Brown said. “I guess what we’re saying is, walk a mile in our shoes. If I was the only centre in the this area, then it wouldn’t be an issue. If there gets to be centres where there aren’t enough kids and they all close, what choice to parents have then?”
Child’s Play is one of six daycares operating in roughly a 30-mile radius in Eastern Kings, including centres in Cardigan, Souris, St Peters, and Howe Bay.
Ms. Brown and other operators in the area also called for increased subsidies so parents could better afford to send their children to daycare, but feels a cap should have been put in place two years ago.
“I’ve been here 18 years and there is nothing I haven’t seen, but there are more daycares than there ever was in this area,” she said. “It’s not that we have a problem with the other centres, but it would be the same as opening another fish plant in Souris. The one that’s there is hanging on by the skin of its teeth as it is.”
While Ms Boyd agrees better subsidies are needed for parents, she said the Province would be better suited to ensure new daycares meet a higher standard of quality before they become licensed than the current standard. She said some members on the childcare board, who approve licence requests on PEI, are daycare operators themselves and could be in a conflict of interest.
“I’m not arguing and saying it’s all perfect, because clearly it’s not,” she said. “There is quite a difference in the degree of quality across the Island. It’s a pretty baseline level (of acceptance) on PEI. With high quality programs, parents will come to those and parents will drive distances for those.”