Child poverty reduction, full-day preschool, smart public policy

    OTTAWA, Sept. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Child care and anti-child poverty groups
welcome Liberal commitments to a poverty reduction strategy and the expansion
of Ontario's universal Kindergarten program into full-day preschool.
    The Liberal platform responds to advocates' call for a comprehensive
poverty reduction strategy with accessible preschool and a dental plan as
first steps. The announcement is mute on calls by advocates to benchmark a 25%
reduction in poverty over five years but leaves the door open for a process of
public consultations to set the stage for ambitious targets. The announcement
builds on the Ontario Child Benefit in the last provincial budget.
    "Reducing family poverty is more than a moral issue," says Rabbi Arthur
Bielfeld, co-chair of the multi-faith group, Campaign Against Child Poverty
"The U.S. financial crisis demonstrates what happens when large numbers of
families fall on hard times with no safety net and are forced to default on
mortgage payments."
    While full day preschool isn't solely an anti-poverty strategy, advocates
see it as an important component of an overall strategy. Quebec's success in
consistently lowering its child poverty rates over the last seven years is
largely attributed to its accessible and comprehensive child care program.
Mothers, particularly single mothers, tend to re-enter the workforce when
their children begin full-time schooling.
    The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, of the Council for Early Childhood
Development and co-author of the ground breaking Early Years Study, calls the
move to full day preschool: "smart public policy".
    "It imbeds the key recommendations of the Early Years Study for universal
access to quality early childhood programming linked to public education. It
is also good science. Pre-school is when children develop the emotional and
social skills needed to succeed in school. Children who spend enough time in
consistent, quality preschool programming, derive benefits that last their
entire school careers."
    The groups have called on all parties in the Ontario election to make
children's welfare their top priority.

For further information:

For further information: Rabbi Arthur Bielfeld, Campaign Against Child
Poverty, (705) 746 3515; John Doherty, Council for Early Childhood
Development, (416) 849 1332

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