April 2010

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Discussion on Early Learning

Full-Day Early Learning Announcement

Dear Colleagues:

Today, Minister Dombrowsky and Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten announced some exciting steps the government is taking to implement their vision for a seamless and integrated system to support Ontario's children and families.

This morning, the Legislature passed the Full-Day Early Learning Statute Law Amendment Act, 2010. This act amends the Education Act to mandate that all school boards offer full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds, including the integrated before- and after-school programs. Education and early learning stakeholders provided valuable input on the bill and their feedback led to some amendments which make it a stronger piece of legislation. The legislation provides us with a clearer framework as we move forward with the implementation of full-day learning and l'd like to thank all the staff from across the ministry who helped develop this bill.

Child care policy and program responsibilities will be transferred from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to the Ministry of Education in the Early Learning Division. Bringing child care and education together under one ministry will create a more integrated system that facilitates smoother transitions for young children and their families. The transfer will take place in phases starting today with the movement of policy and program responsibilities. Funding and contract management responsibilities will follow this fall.

Please join me in welcoming Harriet Grant, Manager of the Child Care Unit, and her staff to the Early Learning Division of the Ministry of Education. They will be located on the 24th floor of the Mowat Block as of April 28 and will report to Jill Vienneau, Director of the Early Learning Policy and Program Branch.

The government has announced that funding will be provided to help stabilize child care. To address the movement of four- and five-year-olds into the full-day learning system, the government has committed stabilization funding that 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. The government has also committed $12 million over five years in new capital funding to help non-profit child care centres with retrofits and renovations to help younger children.

These changes are a result of the government's vision for a more integrated early learning system, which is based on recommendations from Dr. Charles Pascal's report, With Our Best Future in Mind: Implementing Early Learning in Ontario.

As Dr. Pascal stated in his report, to fully benefit from full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds, we must also have a co-ordinated child and family support system that offers a continuum of services for children from birth to age 12. Bringing child care and education together under one ministry is an important step towards that co-ordinated system.

In addition, the Minister of Children and Youth Services will work with Dr. Pascal to identify how to move forward on his recommendation to create Best Start Child and Family Centres to serve as an access point for programs and services that promote healthy child development and school readiness. Minister Broten and Dr. Pascal will work with the multiple programs and agencies providing supports for parents of infants and young children on how to integrate those supports to allow parents to access them in a more co-ordinated way.

I ask for your co-operation and commitment as we move forward on this transformational initiative.

Sincerely,

 

 

Kevin Costante

Deputy Minister