Friday, July 2, 2010

Moving forward – the impact of implementing full day early learning

Now that Bill 242, Full Day Early Learning Statute Law Amendment Act, 2010 has been proclaimed and the regulations supporting the legislation have been introduced, the impact on the licensed child care system is becoming more evident.


In what is perhaps the biggest surprise, it would appear that few of the schools offering full day early learning in September 2010 will be providing before and after school care. Furthermore, those few schools that will be providing the extended day program will be doing so only on the 188 "instructional days". In other words, no programs on Professional Development days, school holidays and during the summer break. While there are a number of reasons that the demand for the extended day component has been considerably lower than anticipated, the fact that care will not be provided year round is no doubt one of the most significant. For the majority of working parents, finding care for the approximately 72 additional days a year, will be a challenge.

The projected cost was also a barrier for families. Following the release of the regulations (See the Blog Entry for June 13, 2010) school boards were more accurately able to determine the cost of delivering the extended day component. In many boards the costs were projected at or above $30.00/day.

The Toronto District School Board has indicated that it will be offering the extended day program at only a "handful" of sites in September 2010. It is important to note that the TDSB is not alone. In the Region of Peel, the Peel Board has contracted with three 3rd party providers to offer the extended day component. In Durham Region, an existing 3rd party provider will be offering the extended day component of full day early learning. In London, the Board will also be working with 3rd party providers.

The Regulations state that 3rd party providers who are providing the extended day component include program content that is similar to the content that school boards would have provided. In other words, the program must be built on the newly released full day early learning curriculum. This provides an important opportunity for the licensed child care sector to demonstrate that the existence of two distinct operators does not preclude the provision of an integrated early learning and care program for children and their families.

As reported in an earlier blog entry, the Regulations include a two year window after which it is expected that school boards will provide the extended day component directly. At this point, it is increasingly difficult to see how this requirement will be met.

From the perspective of the licensed child care sector, it would certainly appear that there will be more time than anticipated to plan for the full implementation of full day early learning. Part of this planning may also include evaluating the impact of junior and senior kindergarten children essentially becoming "baby" school age children with respect to hours of care.

As we have said before, information is power. Upcoming entries will address the latest information about how the subsidy system will work following the roll out of full day early learning and the plans for Best Start Child and Family Centres.

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