BC Ministry of Education response of Mar 4, 2008 to Kids First request for equitable parental participation in talks on full-day schooling for ages 3-5

Helen Ward, President
Kids First Parent Association of Canada

Email: info@kidsfirstcanada.org

March 4, 2007 [sic]
Our Ref: 124874

Dear Helen Ward:

Thank you for your email dated February 29, 2008, sent to the Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Education, regarding your concerns about child care and the Early Childhood Learning Agency’s feasibility study which was announced in the 2008 Throne Speech. As the Executive Director for Early Learning, I am pleased to respond on her behalf.

Government envisions a future for British Columbia in which all youth have the opportunity to be the best they can be physically, socially, intellectually and emotionally. One of the commitments of Government’s strategic plan is to ensure that more children are ready for success when they enter Kindergarten.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has the primary responsibility for early childhood development and child care services. Although the federal government cancelled the 2005 Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, MCFD continues to provide operating funding to child care providers and support access to quality early learning and child care services through the Child Care Subsidy Program.

The Ministry of Education has encouraged school districts to utilize vacant classroom space for early learning programs such as StrongStart BC Early Learning centres, whenever possible, as schools are an ideal location for these services. The Ministry of Education recognizes the importance of parent involvement in all aspects of children’s learning and development and our StrongStart BC Early Learning centres were designed based on the principle that parents/caregivers are children’s first and most important teachers.

In regard to the recent Throne Speech announcement, the purpose of the new Early Childhood Learning Agency will be to assess the feasibility and costs of full-day kindergarten for five-year olds. It will also undertake a feasibility study of providing parents with the choice of day-long kindergarten for four-year-olds by 2010, and for three-year-olds by 2012.

The feasibility study will explore multiple options, and create opportunities for input and consultation with many stakeholders, including key academics in child development, experts in early learning, teachers, early childhood educators, parents, caregivers, community agencies, service providers, Boards of Education, as well as representatives from a variety of government agencies. The exact details about who will participate in the Early Childhood Learning Agency are currently being considered by Ministry of Education staff.

Research tells us that children who experience a variety of early learning opportunities and develop key skills and dispositions, are more likely to be successful in school and in life. Our goal is to explore those options, and provide choices based on the needs of families and their children.

I appreciate your feedback and the research you provided related to early learning and child care. Thank you for sharing your concerns with the Ministry of Education, we will take your suggestions into consideration.

Yours sincerely,

(original sent by email)

Susan Kennedy
Executive Director
Diversity, Equity & Early Learning
Partnerships and Planning Division

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