TORONTO, March 22 /CNW/ - YMCAs from across Ontario took an unusual step of presenting their concerns at a public hearing today on the Ontario government's plan to implement full-day learning for four and five-year-olds starting September 2010.
The YMCA is Ontario's largest not-for-profit early learning and child care provider for children from infancy to 12 years of age, with more than 24,000 children currently enrolled in licensed programs. The YMCA is also the lead operator of eight Ontario Early Years centres.
Shaun Elliott, CEO of the YMCA of Western Ontario, told the Standing Committee on Social Policy that the YMCA supports the government's vision for full-day learning for four and five year olds. "From both a developmental and educational perspective, this is sound public policy."
But, he said, Bill 242 goes far beyond the government's stated objectives and will have the unintended effect of de-stabilizing Ontario's overall licensed child care system, ultimately leaving parents with fewer options and higher costs.
"Commenting on legislation is a relatively new role for the YMCA," Mr. Elliott noted. "It is because of our 40-year history in providing vital child care services in communities across Ontario, and our serious concerns, that we are here today."
The YMCA's concerns centre on Bill 242's requirement that school boards directly operate extended day programs (before and after school hours) for children enrolled in junior and senior kindergarten. "The Bill specifically prohibits school boards from partnering with local not-for-profit providers to offer those extended day programs," he said.
Ontario's YMCAs and YMCA-YWCAs provide child care programs in nearly 500 schools across Ontario. "This Act, if passed, would require school boards to establish and operate separate extended day programs in addition to programs already on-site or close by," Mr. Elliott said. "This would be duplication on a massive scale. Eighty-one per cent of YMCA child care centres are located in schools."
YMCAs want the Bill amended to allow school boards the option of entering into or continuing partnerships with community providers like the YMCA. "We are already partners with schools, the model is working and it's cost effective," Mr. Elliott said. "We can help the Ontario government achieve its vision for ensuring our children have the best quality education and care."
The YMCAs, in cooperation with the Quality Early Learning Network and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (Ontario), submitted a number of amendments which they have jointly developed.
SOURCE YMCA ONTARIO
For further information: For further information: For interviews contact Jennifer Holmes Weier, External Relations Manager, YMCA Ontario, Cell: (416) 301-0100