Fact: Starting in September 2010, Ontario boards of education will start to provide full-day kindergarten to children in some schools. The boards will also be responsible for providing before- and after-school childcare to those same kindergarten children. Jim Grieve, the assistant deputy minister for the Early Learning Division of the Ministry of Education, had this to say to educators working for boards of education in a Q & A email in November 2009:
“Q1. Can school boards partner with an existing childcare provider to provide the extended day component of the early learning program?
“A1. The Early Learning initiative will be a School Board program integrating a core school day and staff with a Board-delivered extended day. This is a different, more integrated approach than one that has children moving between programs and locations. Over the phase in period, Boards will need to transition school-based programs that offer wrap-around care in partnership with community organizations to the integrated, Board-based model. Community-based partnerships can continue to play a role in Boards’ plans to serve other age groups and meet the needs of children outside the regular school year.”
Definitions (for the purposes of this blog):
Regular school year – The whole calendar year except for July and August, Christmas and March breaks, weekends and holidays, and PD days. This is about 188 days, 72% of a full working year.
Kindergarten-aged children – Children from three years eight months to five years
Other age groups – Infants, toddlers and pre-school children up to three years eight months, and school-age children from six to twelve years.
An Early Learning Program (ELP) day for children in senior and junior kindergarten is divided into three parts and will be paid for as follows:
1) Early morning to 9 a.m.: Paid for in full by fees charged to parents. Subsidies may be available for low-income families
2) 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (approximately): Funded by boards of education
3) 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Paid for in full by fees charged to parents. Subsidies may be available for low-income families.
What you need to know – Interpreting Jim Grieve's answer to the above question:
• “Boards will need to transition school based programs…to the integrated Board-based model.”
Translation: Boards of education will provide before- and after-school programs only in schools that offer full-day kindergarten. It appears that organizations other than boards of education (that is, stand-alone or multi-site-operated childcare centres) will not be allowed to provide before- and after-school care to kindergarten children in full-day kindergarten.
• “Community-based partnerships can continue to play a role in Boards’ plans to serve other age groups ...”
Translation: Someone else can provide childcare for children who are either too young or too old for junior and senior kindergarten and for children who opt out of full-day kindergarten. (School attendance is not compulsory until grade one.)
• “Community-based partnerships can continue to play a role in Boards’ plans to… meet the needs of children outside the regular school year.”
Translation: Someone else may possibly offer childcare outside of the regular school year (see definition above) for children in full-day kindergarten.
Implications for childcare operators serving kindergarten-aged children
1. You will probably lose most or all the kindergarten-aged children who attend a school chosen by a board of education to provide full-day kindergarten.
2. School boards and municipalities will presumably work together to provide childcare outside of the regular school year to children eligible for full-day kindergarten. Parents will need information well in advance to ensure that their childcare needs will be met for a full working day every week day of the year.
3. In order to have time to adjust or wind down the program in your centre, you will need at least a year’s notice of what school in your area will be offering full-day kindergarten.
Stay tuned for the next posting on January 20.