↗ The Preschool Excellence Initiative has increased investment in early childhood care and education from $5.35 million in 2009 to $11.3 million in the coming year. In the view of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, the Preschool Excellence Initiative represents a milestone achievement. As the Initiative continues to roll out, it will support learning and development for children from birth to age four. Importantly, the Initiative recognizes and supports women’s labourforce participation and also creates opportunities for employers of parents of young children.
↗ Kindergarten is now part of the public school system. There were challenges along the way, but this is a significant achievement.
↗ Forty Early Years Centres have been set up to provide quality-driven care and learning for children with regulated fees for parents. These will offer over 1,340 day care spaces.
↗ Changes to the Day Care Subsidy Program mean more families can qualify and higher rates are paid to child care centres on behalf of clients. Provincial Early Years Centres will not be permitted to charge rates above the child care subsidy; this means subsidized families will not have to pay extra charges out of pocket at Early Years Centres.
↗ A provincial Child Care Registry has been launched to help parents find information and register for wait lists for their choice of centres across PEI.
→ We celebrate the Preschool Excellence Initiative, and we also emphasize that it is still a work in progress. Most urgently needed are spaces for infants. Government reports it is a priority for 2011 to establish Infant Homes that will increase infant spaces by 72%. To establish the Homes, government will begin offering a start-up grant for equipment and other needs, as well as annual funding of $1,500 per infant. This work cannot happen soon enough.
Additional investment in early childhood care and education that increases quality, accessibility, affordability, and focus on child development: A
This is an excerpt from the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women 2011 Equality Report Card for PEI, released in June 2011 and based on information updated to May 30, 2011. The Advisory Council is republishing one area of assessment each week on this blog. For more information, visit the Advisory Council on the Status of Women website.