The Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program

The universal pre-kindergarten program is an optional play-based program for all Island four-year-old children. There will be no parent fee for the core program and offered 15 hours a week out of licensed early childhood centers starting in September 2021.

Pre-kindergarten educators will support the children’s transition to kindergarten by developing a portfolio for each child which will highlight their overall development.

Most Island four-year-old children already attend an early childhood center providing pre-kindergarten.  By providing increased access we anticipate other families will take advantage of this early childhood program for their children.

Over the next year, pre-kindergarten program development will continue, including establishing additional spaces as needed.

Rationale

Providing access to high quality early childhood experiences for all children through a universal pre-kindergarten program will support a child’s overall development thus making the transition to kindergarten and public school easier.  

The experiences a child will have will support their overall development. Through a play-based program children will have the opportunity to work and play together which will support their social development, creativity, language development, problem solving and thinking skills, motor skills and general knowledge, resulting in a smoother transition to public kindergarten.

Cost

Pre-kindergarten will be offered at no charge to Island families — a core program of 15 hours a week will be funded for parents.  Fees for additional early learning and child care services will apply. 

The pre-kindergarten fee will be provided directly to the early childhood center.

Registration

While the Province of Prince Edward Island is offering a universal pre-kindergarten program, families who are not already registered in a licensed early childhood center still need to do so. These families will need to register their child on the PEI Early Learning and Child Care Registry and are encouraged to follow up with these centers.

Children who will be turning four by December 31, 2021 can be registered for the pre-kindergarten program this fall.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will the pre-kindergarten fee be provided by the department?

  • The pre-kindergarten fee will be reduced from the licensed child care centers full time child care rate and paid directly to the center.
  • For children attending a prekindergarten program the department will pay the parent fee for the 15 hours directly to the pre-kindergarten center.

How do I register my child for the pre-kindergarten program? 

  • If your child does not already attend a licensed early childhood center, you will need to sign up on the PEI Early Learning and Child Care Registry https://peichildcareregistry.com/
  • You are also encouraged to follow up with an early childhood center in your community.

My child already attends full day childcare at a licensed center. Will I need to register my child for the pre-kindergarten program?

  • No, you do not need to register your child for the pre-kindergarten program if they already attend a licensed early childhood center. You should confirm their registration with the center you are attending.

What time will the pre-kindergarten program be offered?

  • Licensed early childhood centers will offer the pre-kindergarten program for 15 hours per week.
  • Centers will work with their communities and determine when they will offer the program.
  • For example, centers can choose to offer programming 5 days a week for 3 hours per day, or they may decide to offer programming 2 days a week for 7.5 hours per day.
  • If you have any questions about when the pre-kindergarten program will be offered, please talk to your early childhood center.

What do I do if a center tells me they only accept children into full-time care?

  • The government allows licensed early childhood centers to offer pre-kindergarten programming based on their capacity and needs in their community. 
  • If a center is not able to accommodate your request, you are encouraged to follow up with another center. 
  • You are also encouraged to follow up with the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning to help identify any gaps in pre-kindergarten programming.

Will the department guarantee a spot for my child?

  • 76% of four-year-old children currently attend a pre-kindergarten program.
  • The department is working with the licensed early childhood sector to establish additional spaces for September 2021.
  • While a pre-kindergarten program spot for every child cannot be guaranteed for September 2021, the department will continue to work with the licensed early childhood sector to identify any regional gaps in space availability and establish additional spaces for the future.

How does the pre-kindergarten program funding work?

  • Families who enroll their child for the 15 hour per week program will not have a fee for the core program.
  • Families who enroll their child for full day care will pay nothing for the pre-kindergarten component of the day. Fees for additional early learning and child care services will apply.
  • Pre-Kindergarten program funding only applies for the hours that a child attends the pre-kindergarten program.

What if centers choose to increase their prices for full time childcare because of the government funding for the pre-kindergarten program?

  • Prices at Early Years Centers are set at a fixed rate determined by the department, and will not increase as a result of the pre-kindergarten program. However, prices at private centers are not fixed and are determined by centers based on their business planning. 

Will the pre-kindergarten program be the same at every center across the Island?

  • All licensed early childhood centers offering the pre-kindergarten program will use the PEI Early Learning Framework.
  • The Framework is designed to bring consistency to approaches and structure of early childhood programs. 
  • Educators are encouraged to adapt the learning environment and children’s experiences to their particular communities, to the cultures and traditions of the families of the children in their programs, and to be inclusive of all children.
  • If you have any questions about what your child will be learning, please talk to your early childhood center about how they are applying the framework.

Will the pre-kindergarten program be offered by centers that use mixed-age groupings?

  • Yes, centers may choose to offer pre-kindergarten programming using mixed-age groupings.
  • The pre-kindergarten program funding will only apply to four-year-olds attending the program.
  • If you have any questions about how the pre-kindergarten program will be offered, please talk to your early childhood center.

How will child my child be assessed in the pre-kindergarten program?

  • Licensed early childhood centers will be using portfolios to document a child’s progress throughout the pre-kindergarten year.
  • This portfolio will capture your child’s learning throughout the year. A summary of the portfolio will follow your child to kindergarten.
  • Centers will provide information on how your child is progressing through the year. This will include, but is not limited to, documentation on age appropriate interactions with the other children, environment, learning and developmental objectives. 
  • Centers will also provide all parents with regular information and opportunity for formal parent – educator meetings twice a year.

Will the pre-kindergarten program be taught by Level III early childhood educators?

  • All centers offering the pre-kindergarten program will be staffed by trained early childhood educators. The center will assign the staff person to the pre-kindergarten program.
  • All staff participate in professional development and in-service provided by the department.

Will the pre-kindergarten program provide a Special Needs Assistant if my child requires one?

  • The pre-kindergarten program must accept children with exceptional needs and provide an inclusive program for all children.
  • Any center requiring a special needs assistant will need to apply to the department.

Contact 

Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program
Department of Education and Lifelong Learning
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
Attention: Anne Rooban

prekindergarten@gov.pe.ca

Published date: 
April 26, 2021
Education and Lifelong Learning

General Inquiries

Department of Education and Lifelong Learning
Holman Centre
Suite 101, 250 Water Street
Summerside, PE C1N 1B6

Phone: 902-438-4130
Fax: 902-438-4062

DeptELL@gov.pe.ca