Parents for Choice & Quality Applaud Government

April 4, 2008

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
April 4, 2008

PARENTS FOR CHOICE & QUALITY APPLAUD GOVERNMENT FOR RECOGNIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EARLY YEARS

The Parents for Choice and Quality wish to applaud the Honourable Premier Ghiz and his government for recognizing the importance and long term benefits of investing in the early childhood years.

We agree that kindergarten programs will benefit Island children within a school setting.  We are encouraged to hear that the government plan to conduct a thorough, careful and sensitive consultation process prior to any changes transpiring.  “There are many factors to consider. We believe in an integrated system of community-based early child development and parenting centres linked to the school system.” said April Ennis, co-chair of Parents for Choice and Quality.

“We are looking forward to continued consultation and work with the government regarding the early years.” commented Jane Boyd, co-chair of Parents for Choice and Quality. “We are pleased that the government recognizes that Prince Edward Island must do more to offer Island children the best possible education. We know that the way to do that is to start in the early years.”

Expanded funding for children ages 18 – 24 months to the CHANCES Best Start Program is a welcomed announcement which will benefit families greatly.

Parents for Choice and Quality support the development and implementation of a high quality early learning and support system for all preschool aged children and their families on PEI. The group, representing mothers, fathers, grandparents, child care centres, industry professionals and concerned citizens of PEI, has grown quickly out of concern related to recent government decisions that are impacting early childhood development.

We envision a system for Early Child Development that ranks in importance with the formal school system. Such a system would have to be universal. All children would have to be included. Such a system would draw on the well-established research and expertise in the field and on the new best practice in the nation in other provinces.  One of our key goals is to ensure that the interests of parents and our children are paramount and that parents get the choice and the quality that they deserve.

  

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Wonderful Progress!

April 3, 2008

Here is the text of the press release today!!!

“The changes in Ministerial duties and departmental responsibilities reflect the need to improve the way services and programs are provided to Islanders,” the Premier said.  “In particular, I believe the new emphasis on rural development will assist many communities to thrive in a changing world. In particular, I am confident that this approach will offer many more Islanders the opportunity to stay within their home communities – and still participate in a changing economy.”

As a result of the changes, three Ministers were sworn by the Lieutenant-Governor to new responsibilities:
  • The Honourable Allan Campbell is now the Minister of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development.
  • The Honourable Richard Brown is now the Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning.
  • The Honourable Gerard Greenan is now the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.
 “The decision to blend responsibilities for early childhood development with education makes perfect sense,” the Premier said. “The team that I have the honour to lead is very serious about improving the supports provided to families as they prepare their children for the education system. Government recognizes that education begins at home, and the new Department will ensure that there is a high level of continuity between early childhood and school programs.”
Finally, the new Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning will help government to sharply focus on the province’s inherent economic strengths.
“As I have said in the past, Prince Edward Island is not rich in natural resources like minerals or oil. Instead, our greatest resource is our people,” the Premier said.
“The new Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning will provide government with the tools to invest in Islanders, whether that is through the education system or through appropriate assistance to innovative new businesses.”
Over the course of the upcoming legislative session, further details on government’s specific policy direction will be announced. The Speech from the Throne will be read April 4th, 2008.
“The Speech will clearly spell out government’s plans for the next several years –  and offer a significant amount of detail about the changes that will take place. Of course, the budget will also offer government the opportunity to clearly demonstrate its plans. I am also looking forward to the release of a new economic strategy, which will help to guide decision making about the investment of public resources into areas designed to improve the Island’s economic performance in the years and decades to come,” the Premier said.

Press Release – Postpone the Change to the Act – Have a real Consultation

February 26, 2008

Here is the Press Release that we have issued today – we ask that the government hold on changing the legislation and that they offer Islanders an authentic consultation process.

The attached 1 page backgrounder will provide the reasons for this request

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
February 26, 2008

PARENTS FOR CHOICE & QUALITY ISSUE
RECOMMENDATION TO MINISTER CURRIE

CHARLOTTETOWN – Parents for Choice & Quality recommend to Minister D.W. Currie, Department of Social Services and Seniors that any changes to the Child Care Facilities Act/Regulations be put on hold until a more comprehensive review of the issues and their potential impact on this critically important matter can take place. This would include a more authentic community consultation process, in addition to a review of such issues as why PEI is the only province in the country with a Child Care Facilities Board; and why the provincial government is considering allowing this structure the latitude to refuse licensing applicants who qualify.

“Our group has grown quickly since it became clear that the Act may be changed in a way that would limit parental choice and possibly impact the quality of child care in PEI.” said April Ennis, Co-Chair of Parents for Choice & Quality.  “After hearing from countless parents, child care professionals and concerned citizens we feel confident in recommending that any changes to the Child Care Facilities Act/Regulations be put on hold until a properly designed community consultation process has been completed.  The current consultation process is not sufficient.  We welcome the opportunity to come to the table and work with the Government in a productive and collaborative manner.”

“We have heard from Minister Currie that he wishes to broaden the consultation process and we support that concept.” said Robert Paterson, a concerned citizen and well known Island blog writer.  “The entire Child Care Facilities Act and Regulations should be thoroughly examined and ample time must be allowed for this work to proceed; it is not something that can be rushed through if we are concerned about enhancing the quality of child care in PEI.”

Parents for Choice & Quality is making this recommendation based on concerns that they have identified related to the following areas; lack of proper community process to date, the potential for conflict of interest from certain members of the current Child Care Facilities Board, the great variance in levels of quality in current child care facilities across the Island, the lack of infant child care spaces currently available and the fact that limiting spaces really means limiting choice and quality. Further information can be found about these issues in the attached Backgrounder.

Parents for Choice & Quality are a group consisting of mothers, fathers, grandparents, child care centres, industry professionals and concerned citizens of PEI that has grown quickly because the current consultation process was designed in reality to limit informed input.  The group is working to ensure that parents get the choice and quality that they deserve for their children.  A website has been established by the group at http://www.choiceandquality.com as well a Facebook group called PEI Child Care Facilities Act and Regulations; which now has in excess of 150 members.

BACKGROUNDER
For Immediate Release
February 26, 2008
Quality & Choice– The stated assumption of the ELOPEI (Early Learning Operators of PEI) and the Department of Social Services is that limiting the number of spaces will create quality. There are 3,000 children on PEI under the age of 24 months. There are 72 licensed child care spaces available for these children. Are 72 spaces sufficient to meet the needs of all of the mothers/fathers who have to go back to work after maternity and parental leave? There are centres that have spaces and there are centres with waiting lists – what does this say about quality? What does this say about the risks of limiting the spaces to the existing centres? How does limiting the number of centres help employees?

Quality and Conflict of Interest– Daycare and Kindergarten on PEI are owned and operated privately (both private and non-profit). We have to remember that. When has limiting competition given the public or employees better quality? Why should the interest of private operators stand ahead of parents and children and the society of Prince Edward Island? Why should child care operators have access to a Board that licenses their competitors? Is this not a conflict of interest? No other province has such a Board that sits between the regulations and the public. What then is the true aim of this Board?

Quality & Risk–We are at risk of not getting the quality that we need if we act too early, before we know what is best.  The opportunity now is to look authentically at what we have and then what we really need and then change the Act.

Quality and Authentic Consultation– To define quality and to get the best system, we need a consultation process that can define true quality. The process of consultation offered to the people of Prince Edward Island so far cannot be justified in a democratic
society. There was already an attempt in the Fall to pass changes to the Act.  These changes would have limited child care spaces.  This occurred with no public input. The changes to the Act were delayed so that a better consultation process could be set up. This has not happened. Very limited time and no context have been offered to the key stakeholders or the general public. Even the recent time extension given does not
compare with other Acts under review; such as the Child Protection act which has a process of months. As important as the time extension is, without the proper context or risk analysis being made available it is virtually impossible for key stakeholders or the general public to provide informed input.

Parents for Choice & Quality are a group consisting of mothers, fathers, grandparents, child care centres, industry professionals and concerned citizens of PEI that has grown quickly because the current consultation process was designed in reality to limit informed
input.  The group is working to ensure that parents get the choice and quality that they deserve for their children.

A website has been established by the group at http://www.choiceandquality.com as well a Facebook group called PEI Child Care Facilities Act and Regulations; which now has in excess of 150 members.

Press Release in PDF form Download here