Last Updated: May 13, 2008DEPARTMENTAL COMMITMENT
Human Services is committed to:
- Ensuring that the early learning and child care programs of the department are fully accessible to all residents of Peel, and support inclusion of all families in effective child development.
- Playing a leadership role in planning collaborative strategies with other Regional departments, other levels of government and jurisdictions, community collaborations, business and non-profit groups aimed at improved early childhood education and development;
- Designing innovative services that meet the needs of families of diverse backgrounds and are responsive to the changing needs of the community.
- Informing and supporting Council to advocate for investments by federal and provincial governments in early learning and child care;
- Engaging with local agencies, businesses, community groups and coalitions to support improved early learning and child care in Peel.
QUALITY EARLY LEARNING & CHILD CARE: EVERYONE BENEFITS
- Contributes positively to a child’s development and learning1. Scientific research tells us that the best time to nurture a child’s whole being is before the age of six;
- Promotes and support literacy for children 0 to 6.
- Fairly compensates trained Early Childhood professionals, promoting employee retention and enhancing the continuity and quality of care.
- Encourages parents to become positively involved in their child’s development by providing them knowledge and supports.
- Responds to the needs and preferences of families.
- Promotes parent employment.
- Reflects local needs.
- Provides economic benefits to the community, families and children2.
- Supports the development of healthy and successful communities.
- Helps to offset the effects of child poverty.3
- Advances women’s equality.
- Enhances social inclusion.4
1 see the “Early Years Study” by Fraser Mustard and Margaret McCain, April 1999, commissioned by the province of Ontario
2 see “Never too early to invest in children: Early childhood education and care matters to business!” by Charles Coffey, Executive VP of RBC Financial Group, Sept. 2003, notes that: “for every $1 spent on child care there is a $2 economic benefit. The benefit comes back through increased tax revenues, and decreased social, education and health costs.” and also
The benefits and costs of good child care: The Economic Rationale for Public Investment in Young Children - A Policy Study” by Gordon Cleveland and Michael Krashinsky, March 1998
3 see Early Years Study
4 see the Laidlaw Foundation paper “Social Inclusion Through Early Childhood Education and Care”, by Martha Friendly, June 2002
The Region of Peel supports a national vision of early learning and child care based on the following foundational principles:
- Quality – high adult to child ratios, highly qualified, well-trained, and well-paid staff, legislated standards that are monitored and enforced, and stable funding.
- Universality –a publicly funded system that is open to anyone in the community who needs or wants to use it.
- Accessibility – provide access to services for all regardless of income or ability.
- Developmentally Appropriate Programming– a learning environment that integrates care with developmentally appropriate activities to optimize physical, cognitive, cultural, social and emotional development in children based on current research and best practices.
In September 2006, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada created a Ministerial Advisory Committee to provide advice on the design of the Child Care Spaces Initiative; the federal government’s plan to create quality child care spaces.
The Committee has developed a broad set of recommendations that meet the diverse needs of contemporary Canadian families and improve accessibility to high quality child care by:
- Focusing on innovation and partnerships.
- Making direct and indirect investment in space development and enhancement.
- Involving all stakeholders including employers small, medium and large, across all sectors.
- Providing a variety of tax and investment incentives.
- Expanding parental leave under employment insurance.
PROVINCE’S VISION FOR ELCC: BEST START
Best Start is a provincial initiative whose vision is to give Ontario’s children the best start in life so that they can succeed at school and beyond. The goal of Best Start is to expand quality and affordable child care and invest in children's healthy early development. The province is working with communities — school boards, public health units, child care and children's services providers, and municipalities — to ensure that:
- Many more children and parents have access to services and supports, regardless of individual economic or social circumstances.
- Pre-school, junior kindergarten, senior kindergarten, quality child care, public health and parenting programs are integrated into a seamless system that supports families and children.
- Early and on-going screening of Ontario's children to identify potential issues, needs and risks is strengthened.
- Early learning and care hubs are centrally established in Ontario's communities to provide families with a single, integrated, seamless point of access to services and supports based on local needs and available resources.
The Best Start Plan will be implemented over a 10 year period, beginning in 2005-06. Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSMs) and community partners will help plan and implement Best Start. In Peel, the Region’s Children’s Services Division is taking a lead role in planning and implementing Best Start. The Success by 6 Peel Best Start Network provides the community’s input into Best Start planning in Peel.
PEEL COMMUNITY VISION FOR ELCC
The Peel’s vision for ELCC is “In Peel all children will thrive.” This vision is aligned with the national and provincial visions. It finds its local expression in Success By Six Peel, a community collaborative partnership involving the United Way of Peel Region and more than 60 partners in business, labour, health, education, social services and government, including the Region of Peel.
Success By 6 Peel has built strong and effective partnerships with the community. SB6 Peel supports and is involved in a number of partnerships and community initiatives:
St. John Fisher Elementary School, School Readiness and Parenting Project
Postnatal Mood Disorder Program
Mobile Early Learning Centres
Peel Children’s Charter of Rights
Understanding the Early Years: Dixie Bloor Project
Region of Peel Council has asked the provincial government to:
- End the requirement for municipalities to fund social services, including child care programs, from the property tax base.
- Fully reinstate funding for the Best Start program so more subsidized child care spaces and learning opportunities are available.
- Provide Peel with its equitable share of funding for child care services.
The Council also has officially requested the federal government to:
- To develop and fund a comprehensive national early learning and child care strategy.
Regional Council has also committed to provide support to Success By 6 Peel in its approach to the federal and provincial governments for improvements in the availability of child care spaces and early learning opportunities and resolved that Regional staff work closely with Success By 6 Peel and the Best Start Network to inform MPs and MPPs of the specific impact in their ridings.
Cost sharing of Child Care
Ontario is the only provincial/territorial jurisdiction in Canada that requires municipalities to cost share child care services. Quebec and most European countries have established universally accessible child care systems funded through the income tax system, and do not rely on municipal property taxes or significant parental fees.
Following years of municipal advocacy, the Ontario government has taken one positive step toward addressing this issue. It has committed to expand regulated child care spaces under Best Start without requesting municipalities to cost share.
As of 2007, the federal government has designated a block of the CST specifically for funding for children and child care.
Inadequate investments by Senior Levels of government in ELCC
The Region of Peel has advocated for enhanced federal and provincial investments in early learning and child care programs. A 2004 OECD study on early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Canada found a patchwork of child care programs across the country which varied in quality, cost and regulation. A 2006 OECD profile of ECEC in Canada (based on the 2004 country study) recommended that:
- Canada should substantially increase its funding for early learning and child care programs to levels of other OECD countries. Currently, Canada spends 0.2% of GDP on pre-primary education (ages 3 to 6). The OECD average on child care spending is 0.4 percent of GDP.
- Strengthen the present federal/provincial/territorial agreements and focus them as much as possible on child development and learning.
- Encourage provincial governments to develop in collaboration with major stakeholder groups; an early childhood strategy with priority targets, benchmarks and timelines, and guaranteed budgets to fund appropriate governance and expansion.
REGION OF PEEL EARLY LEARNING AND CHILD CARE INITIATIVES
The Region of Peel has developed a unique early learning and child care model that incorporates and builds on the Early Years research and is aligned with Peel’s community vision for ELCC as expressed through SB6 Peel and at the same time meets the needs of its residents.
Learning and Health
- High Scope Curriculum - Peel has led the way in providing the High/Scope curriculum at its 11 child care centres. High/Scope is an internationally acclaimed approach to preschool education which supports children's active learning by providing them with a wide array of materials and planned experiences that build on children's interests. Peel has partnered with Sheridan College to open Ontario's first combined child care centre and High/Scope training facility.
- Families First – In collaboration with the Region’s Ontario Works Division and the Health department this program aims to help sole support parents become independent by providing employment, child care, health services to parents.
Improving Access to Quality Care (Financial Supports)
- Income Testing - the Region administers the provincial fee subsidy program to assist low income families’ access child care. Beginning in 2007, eligibility for the provincial child care subsidy is strictly based on family income. Families whose net adjusted income is $20,000 or less will be eligible for full subsidy. Families whose adjusted net income is more than $20,000 will pay a percentage of their income towards the cost of child care. The minimum daily user fee of $5.00 per family will still apply in the Region of Peel.
Meeting the Diverse Needs of Parents and Children
- Special Needs Program – The program provides individual program support to assist children with special needs to participate in all aspects of the child care program. The Region of Peel is the lead agency of Child Care Special Needs Access Point-Peel (SNAP-Peel). This is a partnership of seven agencies in the Region that are collaborating to make it easier for parents to access services for their children.
- Evening Child Care – Peel launched a pilot program offering high quality and flexible care for children between the ages of 18 months and 12-years to parents who work shifts or evenings.
- Valley Infant Parent Program – this new program provides intensive support to high-risk families with infants and is located at the Region’s Valley Child Care Centre.
Community and Family Supports
The Region also provides a number of community outreach and family supports:
- Shelter Children’s Program – provides an on-site early learning program to children whose families are staying at three homeless shelters in Peel.
- Neighbourhood Family Connections are a series of parenting workshops, held one evening per month for 8 months at each of the Region of Peel’s 12 Child Care Centres. While parents are involved in the parenting sessions, their preschool and school aged children participate in a literacy based child development program.
- Family Literacy Program is for families of children aged 0 - 6 years, and is offered in local schools. Families will gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to support their child's language development and gain early literacy skills.
- Open the Door to Better Futures is program that provides a valuable paid work experience for young single unemployed parents. The program gives Program Assistants the opportunity to improve their employability, enhance self-esteem and parenting skills, and actively participate in their community.
LINKS TO FURTHER RESOURCES
To find out more about the various positions and perspectives on early learning and child care, consult the following links:
AECEO: Association of Early Childhood Educators, Ontario
AMO: Association of Municipalities of Ontario
Canadian Council on Social Development
Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
CCCF: Canadian Child Care Federation
Child Development Resource Connection Peel
CRRU: Childcare Resource and Research Unit
The High/Scope® Approach: Preschool
Kids First Canada
Ministry of Children and Youth Services
OCCBC: Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
OMSSA Ontario Municipal Social Services Association
Success By Six Peel
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Vanier Institute of the Family
Voices for Children
High quality early learning and child care supports child development and learning.
High quality early learning and child care benefits the economy in the short term by supporting parents’ employment and in the long term by supporting children to reach their full potential.
Children’s Services is committed to ensuring that high quality early learning and child care programs are fully accessible to all children in Peel. Peel Children’s Services works with all qualifying child care providers in Peel, public, non-profit and commercial, to achieve this end.
While federal and provincial funding has increased in recent years, the amount of funding has not kept pace with the demand for quality early learning and child care in Peel. Funding for services for children age 6 to 12 has not enjoyed comparable increases.
Peel Human Services is committed to design innovative services that meet the needs of children of diverse socio-economic backgrounds and is open to explore new partnerships and alternative delivery models.
Peel Human Services department is engaged in collaborative efforts with other levels of government and jurisdictions, business, and non-profit groups aimed at enhancing the quality and quantity of early learning and child care available in Peel.