Children benefit from new early years investments
Supporting Island families -
Our youngest Islanders will have the chance for a better start thanks to new investments in early learning and child care.
As the three-year Action Plan for Children begins to roll out, it includes $10.5 million to create nearly 200 new child care spaces and build on the high quality programs established by the early childhood sector. Prince Edward Island’s early learning and child care system was recently rated No. 1 in Canada by Early Learning and Childhood Education Report.
“High quality early learning and child care experiences have a very positive impact on a child’s development and on working parents who are raising children,” said Education and Early Learning Minister Jordan Brown. “With the support of our federal partners, our new Action Plan for Children is making early learning and child care more accessible and affordable while supporting the unique needs of more Island children and families.”
Several new early learning and child care spaces are being created:
- 16 new spaces will open up this spring at the new Chateau des Etoiles in Rollo Bay;
- 20 new infant spaces and 60 preschool spaces will be approved this month in existing centres;
- 90 spaces will open soon at newly licensed centres in Charlottetown, Belfast and Long Creek; and
- 9 spaces were recently approved at Little Blessings in Stratford.
Four early childhood centres have recently been designated as provincial Early Years Centres: Kidz Corner Early Learning Academy in Roseneath; Chateau des Etoiles in Rollo Bay; Superstars Daycare in Charlottetown; and Milestones Early Childhood Development Center in Stratford.
There are now 49 designated Early Years Centres in PEI. These centres receive some funding from the province and in return, they must meet high quality standards. For example, they are required to:
- follow a provincial curriculum;
- accept infants and children with special needs;
- have all their staff certified;
- follow a provincial wage grid;
- maintain parent fees;
- have a plan for quality improvement;
- operate year-round; and
- have a parent advisory committee.
More than $600,000 is being invested each year to provide more support to children with unique needs. This year, two autism specialists were hired, as well as several autism tutors and special needs assistants who are now supporting 23 children in early childhood centres.
This January, the provincial child care subsidy program was increased by $700,000 annually to improve access to child care by families who are experiencing vulnerability.
Several other initiatives are well underway to increase access and the quality of programs.
- More than 20 capital grant applications have been submitted by operators who wish to create new spaces, purchase equipment or make capital improvements. These grants will be awarded to successful applicants by the end of March with funding of approximately $200,000.
- Grant applications have also been received from several centres wishing to offer services to families who work non-standard hours. These applications reflect the unique needs of communities and propose different options such as extended hours on evenings and weekends for shift workers or during certain weeks of the year for seasonal workers.
- An additional investment of $70,000 was made this year in the Handle with Care program. As a result, 26 programs have been offered across the Island to help families support the social and emotional needs of their children.
- New funding of $100,000 is being allocated to help early childhood educators gain their entry level certification or increase their education. To date, 67 applications have been approved.