Still no reply….

March 28, 2008

You may recall that April and Jane , our Co-Chairs wrote to Sarah Henry in the Department of Social Services seeking answers to many questions regarding the complex issues that we are currently dealing with in relation to child care and early learning.  We asked for a reply by March 7, 2008 for the following reasons:

  • The government’s own fast track schedule for changing the act
  • If the department had done the required research to consider any changes, all that we asked for should be ready and pose no problem.

On March 7, 2008 we received the following reply from Sarah via email.

Good morning Jane and April,

Thank you for your letter, and interest in the Child Care Facilities
Act and Regulations. A response is being prepared and will be mailed to
the address provided.

I look forward to our continued conversations about supporting children
and families in Prince Edward Island.

Sincerely,

Sarah

Sarah Henry
Early Childhood Services
Department of Social Service and Seniors
Province of Prince Edward Island
161 St. Peters Road, P.O. Box 2000
Charlottetown, PEI      C1A 7N8
Tel: (902) 894-0260
Fax: (902) 368-6169
Email: skhenry@ihis.org

Well it is now March 28, 2008 and still nothing has come to us via email or regular mail, despite several follow-up attempts.  Guess it is time to step things up a bit…

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Guardian Questions Lack of Consultation

March 9, 2008

Here are some excerpts from an editorial in the Guardian this weekend.  Click here to see the full text. 

The government is hesitant to make a decision until there is a general consensus for or against. It makes one wonder if this government has a firm stand on anything. So it came as a stunning surprise when the government decided late last week to make a major change to the age when children enter kindergarten and school. 

Kindergarten is one area where parents need lots of time to look for the right facility, get on a waiting list, and budget for the expense. Parents didn’t need to be panicked into making rash decisions. The announcement last Thursday came without warning for the majority involved in early childhood learning, who were given just three days warning to modify lesson plans for the rest of the year and accommodate new children who had never been to kindergarten before. It appears that a small, vocal minority stampeded government into making a rash decision, leaving parents and teachers scrambling to make sense of the whole thing.

Parents don’t want to hold their children back while friends move on. So, during a meeting on Monday, the Education Department told early learning educators and operators they don’t have to try to catch them up. Instead, they are being asked to offer these children a ‘readiness program.’ Yet a senior staffer warned parents this is not the recommended route for children. If senior staff hasn’t signed on, why is the department proceeding? The readiness program is not ready because staff is still scrambling to put it together. 

The new eligibility date will put the P.E.I. start date more in line with the rest of the country, so the issue isn’t the change of dates; it’s the absence of consultation with stakeholders. There should have been a year or more advance warning given.The key issue should have been what’s best for the child. That wasn’t addressed properly here. Greenan had better be prepared for some tough questions when the house opens next month. 


Trust – The Key to Power & Government

March 7, 2008

What happens to a government that can not be trusted? At best, they become immobilized at worst…..

Many Islanders wonder about what went on when the Kindergarten decision was made. Many fear conflict of interest in the process to change the Child Care facilities Act – all the actions of the department so far suggest that it is not being straight with us.

So in an attempt to regain trust, our co chairs wrote last week to Sarah Henry in the department of Social Services asking her to  give the public the information about what is going on in child care that would be expected to be already well tabulated and understood to suggest any such changes.

Our co chairs asked for this information to be ready by today.  The short deadline was determined by:

  1. The government’s own fast track schedule for changing the act
  2. If the department had done the required research to consider any changes, all that we asked for should be ready and pose no problem.

Well it’s Friday and we are looking forward to getting our reply today. Email will work just fine


Please help us help you – Here is an open and anonymous survey

March 6, 2008

Welcome to our online survey. A Paper version is at the end of this post

Click
Here to take survey

The PEI Government values the feedback from parents so we (Parents for Choice and Quality) have created this online survey to give you (parents on PEI) a way to voice your concerns and recommendations about early childhood education topics.

Over the past month there has been a lot of media coverage about early childhood education on PEI. From the child care facilities act and regulations consultation to the lack of consultation in regards to kindergarten changes.

This survey is for anyone who is a parent, grandparent, a future parent, early childhood educator or concerned citizen. We are giving you a voice to share your thoughts, ideas and concerns about early childhood education on PEI.

No service is perfect, nor do we as parents expect it to be. We do however, have a right to be heard if we have concerns about the current early childhood education system. Each of us are our children’s advocate and deserve respect.

This survey is a tool that will allow you to give your important feedback which will in turn raise the level of standards of early childhood education on PEI. This will also allow all issues regarding early childhood education to be placed on the table for discussion.

Please tell us your story so we can paint the true image of early childhood education on PEI. Together we can build a framework of concerns and offer recommendations so the PEI Government can give children the best start possible on Prince Edward Island.

For those who are not computer savvy, a PDF copy can be found on our website at http://www.choiceandquality.com. You can then feel free to mail or fax your completed form to the contacts listed on the form. Please feel free to print it off and distribute it to anyone concerned on PEI.

We will compile all the feedback from this survey and present it to Government. We ask that you submit your feedback to us by Monday, March 31, 2008.

Sincerely,

April Ennis, co-chair
Jane Boyd, co-chair
Parents for Choice and Quality

Parents Survey

The mail/fax info is
Parents for Choice and Quality
c/o April Ennis
RR#3, Montague
Civic #3811
Summerville, PE
C0A 1R0

Fax: (902) 892-3351


Excellent conversation on PEI Info

March 5, 2008

More conversation here on PEI Info


Opposition on the Kindergarten Change

March 4, 2008

Opposition leader Olive Crane has given the government a failing grade for not consulting with Prince Edward Islanders before announcing a change in the age children can start school. (cbc)

Olive Crane said letting children start younger goes against recent research.Olive Crane said letting children start younger goes against recent research.
(CBC)

The Liberal government has stressed the need to consult on issues such as where people can smoke, and Crane can’t understand why the government was so quick to change the age at which children can start school.

“This is really a big shock as to why cabinet and the premier would be making a decision like this without consulting parents, the department of education, the early childhood educators themselves,” said Crane.

“You can imagine the stress on kindergarten teachers to try and do a readiness program with five-year-olds now to have them ready for school in grade one.”

Last week, the government announced children who turn six before Oct. 31 can start school in September. The previous cut off was Aug. 31.

Crane said the decision flies in the face of research done a few years ago that supported a later age for children to start school. Last week’s announcement has left parents wondering whether to put their children in school at the earlier date or hold them back a year.

While the decision allows about 300 more children to attend grade one in the fall, the Department of Education is cautioning parents against sending children too early. At the same time it has asked kindergartens to prepare special readiness programs for children who will now be moving into grade one.

Crane said the three-month readiness program simply won’t be enough preparation for most children.


The Advisory Council for the Status for Women speaks out

March 4, 2008

In summary the Council asks for

  • The issues of discretion
  • A better process of consultation
  • An examination into the role of the Board and any opportunity that there might be a conflict of interest

Here’s the text of a letter that the PEI Status of Women submitted to the current round of Child Care Consultations. (A PDF version is also available for download.) For more on our past positions on early childhood care and education, see our Policy Guide:

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in public consultations on the Child Care Facilities Act review that is currently underway. We appreciate the extended period for consultation.

In June of 2003, the Advisory Council published aPolicy Guide to Early Childhood Care andEducation with a suite of recommendations, mostof which are still relevant today. (Available at http://www.gov.pe.ca/acsw/index.php3?number=75172)

Our policy guide acknowledges that both as consumers and providers of early childhood careand education services, women are faced with barriers to their equality and to their full and active participation in society. It is our belief that matters of quality are inextricable from the Child Care facilities act and that giving quality care means helping children meet their developmental outcomes. Such important work requires a solid infrastructure consisting of qualified early childhood educators and safe and healthy learning environments.

The core values in the Early Childhood Care and Education policy guide include the following:

  • visibility for early childhood care and education
  • availability and accessibilityaffordability
  • quality of care and education
  • inclusivity
  • supportive of parental choice

The scope of these values is wide, and the way we respond to them as a community has significant implications for the wellbeing of our children. The Prince Edward Island government has shown leadership in researching and understanding the importance of the early years, from zero to six. We call on government to respond to what it has learned with active and forward-thinking legislation and policy to support quality early childhood care and education.

The Child Care Facilities Act is an important element of legislation. However, legislation is only part of the story and can only be one part of a solution. Legislation exists in a context where policies and procedures, funds and other resources, and enforcement or non-enforcement can promote or restrain the effectiveness of the Act.

As we review this Act, it is clear that the legislation interacts with policy (including programs, practices, and precedents) and with governance (particularly of the Child Care Facilities Board, a Board given tremendous responsibility under the Act). All of these operate together to determine our ability as a community to create a system for child care and education that reflects core values.

It is clear that questions about the Child Care Facilities Act have sparked a passion in the community. We call on the Province to embrace the opportunity to widen the discussion about how, as a province, we can deliver high quality, affordable, accessible, developmentally focused early learning and care opportunities to our children.

We join community groups that are asking for more consultation so we can bring into clearer focus the hopes and the concerns of parents, educators, owner/operators, children, and citizens. These consultations should help not only to guide changes to the Child Care Facilities Act (or to affirm the Act as it currently stands); rather, they should also engage the public in the questions of policy and governance that work hand in hand to translate the Act into action.

A key point of contention in the current discussion of the Child Care Facilities Act is a question about whether or not the Child Care Facilities Board should have discretion to deny applications for new child care centres, and especially if they should have discretion to deny applications based on number of spaces in a particular region or meeting a particular need. We find that we require more information to assess this issue.

We call on the Province to undertake and to make public a comparative assessment of how “discretion” is legislated and applied in other jurisdictions across Canada.

Specifically, we are interested to learn answers to questions such as the following:

  • When did other jurisdictions legislate “discretion” and why?
  • Who has discretion to make decisions about new centres in each jurisdiction?
  • What measurable effects have followed from allowing discretion? (For example, how many applications for new centres have been rejected, and on what kinds of grounds? Are there measurable improvements in educational and general outcomes for children in regions that allow discretion?)

Answers to these kinds of questions will help us, as members of the community, evaluate the risks and benefits for women as parents and as educators – and for children, as the most important group affected.

Additionally, we ask government to compare the Child Care Facilities Board and its powers in with other agencies, boards, and commissions within the province.

  • Are there similar structures with similar powers, exerting control on issues unrelated to child care?
  • How does the influence in the two matters compare?
  • How do governance procedures and conflict of interest policies apply?

These questions seem important to guiding decisions about what may need to change in the Child Care Facilities Act or in the policy that surrounds it.

We understand that following a research phase and an internal decision-making phase, any revisions of the Act will come forward for public validation. We look forward to opportunities to make input again into the specific issues covered in the Child Care Facilities Act during this validation. We sincerely hope that this consultation will be only a part of a wider consultation and public conversation about early childhood care and education.