Public Values

Full day kindergarten welcomed by parents, advocates, union

Money spent on early education proven to have long term impact against poverty.

Full day kindergarten welcomed by parents, advocates, unionThe recent announcement that Ontario will move ahead with full-day kindergarten for all four- and five-year-olds despite an unprecedented provincial deficit has many applauding the program. The long-awaited announcement is a major step toward the sort of seamless early learning strategy recommended by Dr. Charles Pascal in the Ontario government commissioned report With Our Best Future in Mind. The Pascal Report was widely praised by educators, parents and public policy experts for its vision using schools to create holistic, community-based early learning hubs for children from age 0-12.

"The implementation of full day kindergarten in Ontario schools is really welcome news," says Wayne Samuelson, president of the Ontario Federation of Labour. "This program represents a truly important piece of the childcare puzzle."

Premier Dalton McGuinty said the program will cost $1.5 billion a year once it's fully implemented by 2015, about $500 million more than originally thought.

"In a highly competitive, global knowledge-based economy, it's absolutely essential that we invest in the younger generation to ensure that we build a powerful workforce that can compete and win against the best anywhere on this planet," the premier said.

  "Money spent on early education will result in more opportunities for children... a real investment in our future."

Annie Kidder, with the parents group People for Education, said Monday she understands the reality of the situation so "if it takes four years or five years, it's not the end of the world. It's that they do all of the pieces. Not just saying we're doing all-day kindergarten and not anything else."

"Full day learning will give four and five year old children a real leg up in early childhood development and education, which is great for the children and their families," says Samuelson. "But this also presents new economic opportunities for many families struggling through tough times. It's also a tremendously valuable source of direct economic stimulus to aid on the path to recovery."

Knowing that their children will be well cared for on a full day basis will open new possibilities of full time employment and educational upgrading for many parents, especially mothers, added Samuelson. Public policy experts and poverty reduction advocates have long recognized that investments in childcare and early learning will have a significant and long term impact in the fight against poverty.

"Especially in tough economic times, we need to recognize the difference between a real investment and a mere expenditure. Money spent on early education will result in more opportunities for children, more opportunities for parents, and more opportunity for the creation of good jobs. That's a real investment in our future," says Samuelson.

Links and sources
  Government of Ontario

Posted: November 09, 2009

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