The Building a Better Future document is part of Ontario’s commitment to investing in the future of its children, and follows 2015’s Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, which replaced the previous 70-year-old legislation. The following is a brief summary of the Building a Better Future discussion paper, which the Ministry invites Ontarians to comment on, offering their feedback and starting a conversation about early years care and education.
Investing in Our Future
The Ministry of Education recognizes that children are an important resource for our province, and require high-quality learning experiences starting at an early age. Early years education programs can support essential development of children up to age 4 in three major ways:
- Academic Achievement: When children experience quality early childhood education programs, they have improved cognitive development over their lifetime, have better school grades, and are more likely to attain postsecondary education.
- Health and Wellbeing: Children who build caring and responsive relationships at a young age are happier, healthier, and more resilient.
- Lifelong Success: When children have positive early childhood education experiences, they are more likely to have a highly skilled job and an improved lifelong outcome.
How Ontario is Currently Improving Child Care
The paper also outlines the initiatives that are currently underway to help meet the diverse child care needs of families across Ontario:
- Financial Investment: Ontario has invested $120 million to create 4,000 new child care spaces in schools, and has invested $100 million per year in child and family programs to make access to these services easier. Early childhood educators have also experienced a wage increase in licensed child care settings. Starting in 2017, further financial investments will support the creation of 100,000 child care spaces.
- Full-Day Kindergarten: In 2010, Ontario launched full-day kindergarten, which has been proven to better prepare children for grade 1.
- Modernization of Child Care: The government, along with expert partners, worked to create recommendations to change Ontario’s child care system for the better. The result was the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, which strengthened compliance, health and safety in early years settings.
- Child Care Wait Lists: Ontario listened to families who were concerned about fees for child care wait lists. Regulatory changes were made to ban this practice in order to make it easier for parents to access child care.
- Truth and Reconciliation: Ontario is committed to working with First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities to support culturally appropriate and accessible child care programs for Indigenous people.
A Renewed Framework for Early Years and Child Care
Ontario is working with parents and families to develop a refreshed framework for early years and child care, based on four key pillars:
- Access to licenced child care programs.
- Responsiveness to the needs of families and children through child care offerings in schools, communities, workplaces and homes.
- Affordability for families that need support.
- Quality education programs that support healthy child development, which are measured through province-wide outcomes.
This document is by no means a strict guideline that dictates the future of early years education in Ontario. The Ministry of Education is calling all educators, parents and community members to respond to this paper and the set of questions it asks. To read the entire discussion paper from Ontario’s Ministry of Education, and to respond to its discussion questions, you can download it here.
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