Although most young families with children aged 3 1/2, 4 and 5 will no doubt like Ontario’s soon-to-be implemented full-day junior and senior kindergarten program — also referred to as the Early Learning Program (ELP) — it appears there will be just as many who won’t like it.
As Hugo writes at “Education Reporter,” school boards are being asked to run this program without any extra funding for capital costs. Not only that but they will be expected to charge and collect fees for the before and after school ELP components — something they have no experience or expertise doing.
Then, there is the issue that school boards cannot enter into any childcare partnerships with municipal agencies and/or private nursery schools — although they can get help with figuring out subsidies from the former. Think about that. School boards have absolutely no experience with early childhood education, apart from what they have already done in half-day JK and SK. Yet, now will be expected to know what to do regarding the before and after school care components.
Moreover, there is the issue of funding. If school boards are not going to receive any extra money for capital building projects (to have the space to provide the ELP), where is the extra funding going to come from? Other capital projects? Special education grants?
And, finally, what will happen to childcare providers in the community? Will they only have children who are aged 3 or younger? Assuming that will be the case, that would cut the number of children they care for by at least 50% — putting many providers out of business? Which means that parents who have children younger than 3 1/2 will not have access to that childcare anymore.
It seems to me that the McGuinty Liberal government is so desperate to use the ELP as a vote getter in preparation for the October 2011 provincial election campaign — that they are starting the implementation this September 2010 — come hell or high water. However, by doing so, it is clear they have not anticipated the kinds of repercussions a program like this can have on the broader community.
Well, if there are as many negatives about this program as we are hearing, Premier McGuinty and his new Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky may well regret the speed at which they are doing this.
Update: Here is an example of an Ontario community Goderich not having enough money for child care. For example, a media release states:
“Central Huron will not be helping the town of Goderich with child care costs. Goderich asked Central Huron Council for close to 10 thousand dollars to offset the cost of providing child care services to Central Huron kids that attend the municipal day care centre.Central Huron council voted down that request at last night’s meeting.” (h/t Catherine)
Now, while this situation is not directly related to the ELP program per se, it does show that external services are already being adversely affected. Perhaps, for instance, the municipal politicans feel that many of the children affected will be attending full-day JK/SK anyway.