More child-care spaces benefit Island children, families
Supporting Island families -
Early learning and child care are becoming more accessible to Island families with the opening of 358 new child-care spaces over the past six months.
The Prince Edward Island government is working with community partners to improve an early childhood sector that is already recognized as among the best in Canada. Education, Early Learning and Culture Minister Jordan Brown outlined progress in several areas today (September 19) during a visit to the Wee the West early childhood centre in Bloomfield, where 50 new spaces opened just this month.
“Early learning and child care is the top priority for many Island families, and we are seeing positive results from the work we have done with the community to open new centres and add spaces and hours at existing centres across the province,” Minister Brown said.
“The 358 new spaces include many infant spaces, rural spaces, and extended hours that make life easier for parents who work seasonal or non-standard hours.”
The PEI Action Plan for Children aims to expand access to early learning and child care, and support children who can benefit the most from high quality early childhood experiences. The plan was launched in August 2017 and is supported by federal funding of $10.5 million over three years.
“The Government of Canada is committed to helping middle class families access and afford quality early learning and child care," federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said. "The PEI Action Plan for Children will ensure that more families and children have a real chance to succeed across Prince Edward Island.”
“Prince Edward Island’s growing population includes many families with young children, which is increasing the need for early learning and child care,” Minister Brown said. “In response, we are supporting the expansion of spaces in Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall where the population is increasing the most. At the same time, we are responding to needs in rural areas where seasonal employment and a smaller population can make it more challenging to operate viable centres.”
Seasonal spaces and extended hours have been offered in Montague, Souris and Tryon. Full and part-time spaces have been added in Belfast, Montague and Bloomfield, with more spaces expected to open soon in other rural communities.
Regulation changes are planned to increase the number of licensed family home centres in the province, and child care subsidy funding has been increased to include more children who can benefit from early childhood programs.
Katie Melville of Wee the West said the 50 spaces in her new centre will make a real difference for West Prince families.
“The location of our centre in Bloomfield Corner is much more convenient for families who were travelling longer distances, and the fact that we are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. is much appreciated by parents who do seasonal work,” she said. “The family is a key part of our play-based program and we are very focused on keeping parents informed of their child’s development.”
Currently throughout the province there are 3,358 spaces and 143 licensed programs including 47 Early Years Centres, 27 early childhood centres (non-designated), eight preschool centres, two family home centres, and 59 school-age centres.
“For too many PEI families, the absence of affordable and quality child care services means making difficult choices," Member of Parliament for Egmont Robert Morrissey said. "The Prince Edward Island-Canada early learning and child care agreements will ensure higher-quality services that are accessible and affordable to all families, enabling children to reach their full potential.”
Early learning and child care on Prince Edward Island, by the numbers.
New child care spaces
Approximately 171 new child care spaces opened since April 2018, including 32 new infant spaces. Another 187 spaces are expected to open by October 2018 in the east, west and central parts of the province. Another call for applications to open new centres will go out this fall.
New Early Years Centres
Four centres have been designated as provincial Early Years Centres in the past year. This designation which is held by 47 centres in the province, requires operators to meet high standards of quality in return for some government funding. A call for applications is now out, and is expected to create more Early Years Centres in the coming months.
Grants to support early childhood centres
Capital, training and quality improvement grants have been provided to English and Francophone centres which are owned and operated by the private and non-profit sectors.
- Capital grants of $300,000 have been made available to 21 centres to equip, renovate or expand their facilities to accommodate more children.
- Operational grants of $850,000 are helping 75 licensed centres strengthen inclusion and expand and enhance programming, which provides direct tangible benefits for children.
- Funding of $100,000 has enabled 120 early childhood educators to become certified or increase their certification, which in turn helps them earn higher wages and contribute to high quality care.