Special Advisor on Early Learning - BACKGROUNDER - Highlights of the Full Day Learning Plan



    TORONTO, June 15 /CNW/ -

    
    With Our Best Future in Mind: Implementing Early Learning in Ontario
    Charles E. Pascal, Special Advisor on Early Learning

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                   Highlights of the Full Day Learning Plan

    -   A single program would be in place, with a single child-focused
        curriculum, planned and delivered by a qualified team of educators
        using common space and resources.
    -   Families would have the option of enrolling their 4- and 5-year-olds
        for the full school day or half day. Extended-day options would also
        be provided, funded by parent fees.
    -   Certified teachers and early childhood educators working together
        would complement each other's skills and give every child a better
        early learning experience.
    -   What happens to children after the bell rings is also important - by
        offering affordable, extended-day and summer programming for children
        4 to 12 years old the education system will be strengthened even
        further.
    -   Schools as hubs for child and family programming would contribute to
        better outcomes for children and stronger communities.
    -   Integrating early learning into a single program would result in
        significant savings for parents compared with the cost of traditional
        licensed child care for 4- to 12-year-olds.
    -   Best Start Child and Family Centres would be formed by consolidating
        many existing early childhood services into one-stop access for
        families that include flexible child care, parenting information and
        resources, play groups, intervention supports for children with
        special challenges, and links to community agencies.
    -   Municipalities would provide local leadership for programs for
        children under 4. School boards would provide local leadership for
        programs for children from 4 to 12 years old. Provincial leadership
        would be consolidated under the Ministry of Education.
    -   The first phase of implementation would include new opportunities for
        children living in low-income neighbourhoods - and province-wide
        implementation of full day learning within three years will benefit
        all children.
    -   Incremental costs to implement the full day learning plan are
        estimated at under $1 billion.
    -   A longer-term goal is to extend parental leave and benefits to allow
        parents to spend more time with their babies and to reduce the need
        for expensive infant care.

    Background:

    -   Research shows that children enrolled in full-day learning are better
        prepared for Grade 1, do better in elementary school, and are more
        likely to graduate high school.
    -   One in four Ontario children arrives in Grade 1 with vulnerabilities
        (social, emotional, physical) and/or learning difficulties. Full-day
        learning can help identify and address learning problems earlier,
        avoiding costly and less-effective interventions later.

    Key Facts

    Numbers of Children in Ontario by Age Group

        0 to 12 years old: 1,886,075
        0 to 3 years old: 541,701
        4 to 5 years old: 275,150
        6 to 12 years old: 1,069,224

    (Ontario Ministry of Finance - Annual Ontario population estimates by
    age, 2008)

    Kindergarten in Ontario
    -   Over 227,000 4- and 5-year-olds attend part time Junior and Senior
        Kindergarten.
    -   About 20,000 4- and 5-year-olds children attend full day Junior and
        Senior Kindergarten.
    -   About 3,400 elementary schools now offer part time Kindergarten.
    -   About one-third of elementary schools could now accommodate full day
        learning with no or minor capital investments required.

    Child Care in Ontario
    -   4,582 licensed child care centres programs with 236,988 spaces
        serving children 0 to 12 years old.
    -   Nearly half of all child care centres - 2,131 - are in schools.
    -   140 licensed private-home day care agencies with spaces for 19,637
        children 0 to 12 years old.
    -   More than 30 per cent of children enrolled in child care receive some
        fee subsidy.
    -   Between 65 and 83 per cent of mothers with children under 12 years
        old participate in the workforce (fewer for mothers with younger
        children and more for mothers with older children).

    Family Resource Programs in Ontario
    -   108 Ontario Early Years Centres provide information, resources, drop-
        in and outreach programs for families with children 0 to 6 years old.
    -   8 Better Beginning Better Future program sites offer intervention
        programs in at-risk neighbourhoods.
    -   122 Child Care Resource Centres provide information and resources to
        the early childhood care operators and family child care providers
        and resources for families with young children.
    -   123 school-operated Parenting and Family Literacy Centres provide
        child and family drop in programs to support readiness for
        Kindergarten.

    Parental Leave
    -   82,426 Ontario parents received EI-funded parental leave in 2008.
    -   In Quebec, which designates leave for fathers, 56 per cent took time
        off work to be with their new babies. Eleven per cent of Ontario
        fathers took parental leave. (2008, Statistics Canada).

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                                                    ontario.ca/earlylearning
                                                      Disponible en français



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                           What Others are Saying

    Rich and deep in substance, this early learning blueprint provides the
missing link in Ontario's education reform strategy, giving the province the
opportunity to take its already highly regarded world-wide education
reputation to become the global leader when it comes to the development and
performance of its children and youth.

        Dr. Michael Fullan, Professor Emeritus, Ontario Institute for Studies
        in Education

                                     (xx)

    In the international context, this report will be a beacon for
practitioners and experts alike.

        Dr. John Bennett, Senior Researcher for the Starting Strong Network,
        Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Paris, France

                                     (xx)

    This groundbreaking report underlines the critical importance of early
learning and care to the health and wellbeing of Canadians. Premier McGuinty's
vision and this report provide excellent guidance for what governments across
Canada must do.

        Honourable Roy J. Romanow O.C., former Premier of Saskatchewan;
        Commissioner for the Future of Health Care in Canada; Chair, Canadian
        Index of Wellbeing Advisory Board

                                     (xx)

    This is both a moral issue and an economic issue. The science underlying
early learning is expanding all the time. The debate surrounding it and the
conclusions to be drawn from it are too important for any reasonable person to
ignore. Early learning is about choice, a choice that today is not available
to far too many parents in this country. Ontario's report points the way.

        Right Honourable Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada

                                     (xx)

    The Premier should be commended for his vision and for commissioning a
report that provides an excellent blueprint to enable significantly better
health and well-being for our children and their families. Let's get this
done. We can't afford not to.

        Dr. Robin Williams, Medical Officer of Health, Niagara Region; Chair,
        Council for Early Child Development

                                     (xx)

    This report reflects a rare combination of respect, sensitivity and
urgency when it comes to the early learning of Aboriginal children!

        Kenn Richard, Executive Director, Native Child and Family Services of
        Toronto

                                     (xx)

    The demands on the government are many and the choices are painful. But
the government has already shown that integrated approaches must trump silo
thinking. Its courageous commitment to reducing family poverty, reinforces the
notion that it's time to balance short-term economic triggers with a few
important longer-term investments in human development that move us more
quickly out of the downturn and sustains economic progress.

        Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, Co-chair/Author, Early Years
        Studies

                                     (xx)

    As educators, in partnership with parents and early child development
professionals, we must seize the moment that this report offers - a truly
transformational pathway for increasing the success of all Ontario learners in
school and in life.

        Jim Grieve, Director, Peel Board of Education

                                     (xx)

    I am so heartened to see the commitment in this report to the community
hub model for schools. We know that to be successful in school and life,
children need a strong start. This significant report recognizes that schools
can provide a much-needed foundation of support, education and community for
children and their families.

        Annie Kidder, Executive Director, People for Education

                                     (xx)

    This report builds on our decade-long experience, and excellent results,
in providing the best support for our children by using the complementary
skills and knowledge of teachers and early childhood educators.

        Dr. Mario Lajoie, Director, Planning, Accountability, and Strategic
        Partnerships, French Language Catholic School Board of Eastern
        Ontario

                                     (xx)

    We are extremely excited about this report because it fully supports a
transformation of our province's early learning and care system - one that
gives families equal access to full day programs through one door, in one
location, taught by one team of unified early learning professionals. Children
will benefit and parents will love this approach. Let's get on with it.

        Eduarda Sousa, Executive Director, Association of Early Childhood
        Educators of Ontario

                                     (xx)

    The report clearly sets out the steps that the province should take to
enhance early child development. It is a comprehensive and practical plan to
implement the results from all the prior work on the importance of early child
development and the effects on learning, health, and behaviour in later life.
We need to ensure that this report will move the agenda for quality early
child development programs forward in Ontario.

        Dr. J. Fraser Mustard, Co-chair/Author, Early Years Studies

                                     (xx)

    A vision of the whole child! This is a clarion call for a system focused
on outcomes that support healthy opportunities for all of our kids to grow,
learn, and succeed. The community is eager to work with the government to
implement this critically important plan for Ontario's children.

        Frances Lankin, President & CEO, United Way Toronto

                                     (xx)

    It is truly heartening to read a report that describes so clearly how to
embrace diversity in a respectful, effective, and practical manner.

        Jehad Aliweiwi, Executive Director, Thorncliffe Neighborhood Office

                                     (xx)


    The real beneficiaries of this critically important report are the next
generation of leaders - our children and their families - and in turn civil
society. The recommended investment is one we can't afford to ignore.

        Charles S. Coffey O.C., former Executive Vice-President, Royal Bank
        of Canada

                                     (xx)

    I strongly applaud the Premier's early learning initiative! The new
partnerships envisioned in this report - in particular local governments and
school boards - are crucial to eliminating the divide that too often gets in
the way of assuring that the needs of children and their families are met in
the most cost-effective manner.

        Doug Reycraft, Mayor of Southwest Middlesex, former educator and
        president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario

                                     (xx)

    Municipalities manage and deliver services at a cost of billions of
dollars every year. They have demonstrated that they are fully capable of
engaging the community, planning, implementing, delivering and monitoring
programs within budget. They have shown they are efficient and effective
despite the over abundance of checks and balances required by the province.
Municipalities welcome outcome-based accountability in meeting provincially
established priorities. We are ready to do our part to implement this exciting
and comprehensive report.

        Janet Menard, Commissioner of Human Services, Peel Region

                                     (xx)

    We are very proud to have been singled out as an example of the power of
early learning teams for four and five year olds. Nous croyons que les efforts
déployés auprès des tout-petits est la clé qui assurera leur futur succès.

        Lyne Caza, Principal, Ecole élémentaire catholique Le Petit Prince

                                     (xx)

    This will ensure a more secure and stimulating environment for a full day
of learning with a team of educators that is well-coordinated and seamless
when it comes to the needs of the kids.

        Macarthur Hunter, retired Elementary School Principal

                                     (xx)

    This report completely captures the kind of integrated children's services
that Ontario families need. The types of early learning opportunities we have
been experimenting with must become available throughout the province.

        Brian Smith, Executive Director, Woodgreen Community Services

                                     (xx)

    This report fully captures what's best for young children and their
families and brings together a comprehensive plan to implement some very key
ideas from our Royal Commission on Learning.

        Honourable Monique Bégin, Co-Chair, Royal Commission on Learning;
        former Minister, National Health and Welfare; Member, World Health
        Organization Commission on Social Determinants of Health

                                     (xx)

    This should have been done decades ago but it's never too late to ensure a
more complete approach to a publicly-supported education. This initiative will
secure the investments we already make in elementary, secondary and
post-secondary education.

        Honourable William G. Davis, former Premier of Ontario

                                     (xx)

    We don't just need more time with young children at risk, we need precise
and appropriate learning strategies that create a solid educational foundation
for youngsters. I am heartened that this report builds on our experience and
research in supporting the needs of young Aboriginal students.

        Janet Wilkinson, former Director of Education for the Keewatin-
        Patricia District School Board; former chair of Northwestern Ontario
        Educational Leaders

                                     (xx)

    A powerful report, it focuses our attention on the expertise required to
provide appropriate early learning environments for young children.

        Julia O'Sullivan, Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Western
        Ontario

                                     (xx)

    This report recognizes that early childhood programs that help compensate
children for difficult home and community environments, at the same time as
they support parents to work or upgrade their job skills, are highly effective
at reducing the rate and depth of family poverty.

        Laurel Rothman, National Co-ordinator, Campaign 2000

                                     (xx)

    This report transforms Ontario's thinking about young children and about
how to support families. It repositions our publicly-supported education
facilities as collective community assets serving not only young children but
their parents too. Instead of counting of child care spaces, the report
envisions welcoming all 4- and 5-year-olds so they can benefit from
high-quality early education with continuous learning environments up to age
12. Child and Family Centres offering everything from flexible child care to
prenatal supports and parent resources will be a platform to expand
opportunities for younger children and will be applauded by parents. Making
this report a reality will truly be historic for us all.

        Martha Friendly, Childcare Resource and Research Unit

                                     (xx)

    This report clearly demonstrates that modernizing the early learning and
care options for families in Ontario requires new ways of working together as
no single government, institution or community organization can take on the
responsibility alone. The YMCA in Ontario believes families are our children's
most important teachers and that healthy families are supported families and
we look forward to continuing to play our part.

        Scott Haldane, President, YMCA Ontario
    





For further information:

For further information: Kerry McCuaig, (647) 295-2808

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SPECIAL ADVISOR ON EARLY LEARNING

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