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Where does the implementation of the Full Day Early Learning Program in Ontario for four- and five- year olds stand today? Here are three things to consider:

(i) Charles Pascal’s Report

Fact: Charles Pascal presented his report, With Our Best Foot Forward: Implementing Early Learning in Ontario, to the Premier of Ontario on June 15, 2009. As quoted in the Ontario government backgrounder available on the Internet, this report “contains a number of recommendations including how to introduce full-day learning to Ontario students, how to improve education for children up to 12 and how to increase supports for young families.”

What you need to know: The recommendations are just that – recommendations. Pascal’s report is background information. The Ministry of Education has been charged with implementing a Full Day Early Learning Program (ELP), and it will set its own policies and regulations. The actual policies will originate there.

(ii) Ontario Ministry of Education October 27, 2009, memo to Directors of Education

Fact: In this 2½ page memo, the Ontario Ministry of Education has outlined its implementation plan for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. I strongly urge you to download it and read it for yourself.
http://bmemos.edu.gov.on.ca/Memos/B2009/B_12E%20-%20Implementation%20of%20E-Learning%20for%20four%20and%20five%20year%20olds.pdf

What you need to know: Highlights of the memo (quoted from and paraphrased here) are as follows:
• 35,000 spaces will be available for four- and five-year olds in Ontario in the 2010-11 school year. This amount to between 6,500 and 7,000 spaces in the City of Toronto.
• The Full Day Early Learning Program will be fully implemented by 2015-16.
• Children in senior kindergarten and junior kindergarten who are in the program will receive a full school day of kindergarten (9AM to 3PM) funded by boards of education.
• Before- and after- school childcare will be “funded by parent fees on a full cost-recovery basis.”
• “Some subsidies will be available for low-income families.”
• Boards of education must “begin to develop” a communication plan in January 2010 to inform parents of implementation plans for year one.
• Once ELP schools have been chosen, kindergarten registration for 2010 will begin.

For authoritative information on the ELP in future, look to Ministry of Education memos for administrators. The memo noted above comes from that source:
http://bmemos.edu.gov.on.ca/B_Memos_2009.html

(iii) Toronto District School Board (TDSB) proposes 75 ELP sites

Fact: The TDSB has proposed 75 ELP sites for the 2010-11 school year. See the list at
http://www.tdsb.on.ca/about_us/media_room/room.asp?show=allNews&view=detailed&self=22860

What you need to know: This list may change as these sites have not yet been approved by the Ontario Ministry of Education. A final list is expected in mid-January.

There are many unanswered questions for parents and operators and Boards of Directors of childcare centres:
1. What effect will this program have on my centre’s enrolment?
2. When will the school in my area be chosen for ELP?
3. When will the ELP school in my area establish a before- and after-school childcare program for four- and five- year olds?
4. How will the subsidy system work?
5. What salary grants currently received by our staff will be continue to be available?
6. How will our Pay Equity responsibilities be affected by ELP?
7. Where do I get answers to these questions?

Stay tuned for the next posting on January 13.

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