Dear Minister Bond:
The throne speech announced the creation of an agency to explore the
full day kindergarten for children ages 3-5.
We ask that the money set aside for this be delivered to parents to help
pay for our child care and early learning
work and expenses. BC has one of the highest numbers of children with
family incomes below the
"Low Income Cut-Off". We provide ourselves and also use many forms of
care/learning, both paid and unpaid.
Group all-day settings are only one option.
Putting massive resources into "underutilized" schools would be a grave
disservice to children and their families and would
bleed resources from every other learning/care form.
Policy should be evidence-based and in the "best interests of the child":
- The research from HELP, Statistics Canada,the NICHD and many other
sources shows either no benefit from licensed care forms, no lasting
benefit, or negative effects.
- "High quality" child care was NOT shown to alleviate negative
behavioural effects in the US NICHD study as HELP staff have erroneously
stated. Lasting (to gr 6 at least) negative behavioural outcomes were
shown for centre-based care ONLY regardless of "quality". Please contact
Dr Jay Belsky for clarification and data:
Jay Belsky firstname.lastname@example.org
- High quality care was least often found in group settings and most
often in father/relative/family-like settings. Low quality care is the
norm in licensed group care in Canada, US, Sweden.
- Research cited by Gillian Doherty shows that existing daycare
staff:child ratios mean over 50% of children do not receive adequate
care or developmental opportunities. Ratios would be even worse in a
school setting making low quality even lower.
- Health researchers find rates of illness/infection very much higher in
group care settings. Daycares have been called, "the open sewers of the
20th century" by a US epidemiologist. "Super bugs" have been found in
these settings. These large health/medical costs must be factored in to
any meaningful feasibility study.
Policy should also be democratic. Your administrative staff over the
phone said this is "just an idea", however:
- The Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at UBC has shared this
information in their newsletter under the title "Universal 'Child Care'
- The Provincial Child Care Council has already discussed this.
- "Integrating" kindergarten with daycare in schools is not "just an
idea" but has been discussed and
worked towards nationally at least since 2005.
- Ontario has announced plans for full day schooling for 4-5 year-olds
- No polls show parents prefer that public funds for young children's
care and learning go to schools/services rather directly than to families.
This discussion has had no democratic opportunity for parents to be
involved on an equal footing with unions, daycare advocates,
publicly funded researchers such as BC Childcare Coalition, HELP, etc.
By equal footing I mean with equal funding for the expenses of meeting,
communicating, researching, etc. Our organization, for example, is
entirely volunteer run and receives no funding from union, government,
Parent participation should also be in numbers proportionate to our role
in children's lives: in short parents acting as parents and not as
representatives of other bodies should make up the vast majority of the
participants80-90%. The days of "beer and popcorn" dismissive
attitudes to parents are over. We hope this government agrees.
You were quoted in the Vancouver Sun Feb 13, 2008 saying, "we recognize
that the earlier the investment is made,
the more that's going to pay off."
- Who will the "investment" be paid to?
- Who will be in the proposed agency?
- How can we be included in it?
- What options other than full day kindergarten for 3-5 are being
included for discussion?
- What plans do you have for making policy for young children both
evidence-based and democratically formulated?
- What are your plans for including parents as parents on the agency?
- How will you ensure unfunded parents can participate on an equal
footing in the agency?
I would be happy to share the sources of the above mentioned data with you.
We appreciate your commitment to responding to us.
Helen Ward, President
Kids First Parent Association of Canada