Thursday, December 16, 2010

Changes to Full-Day Kindergarten Program in Ontario

Kindergarten in FrankfurtImage via WikipediaDepending on where you first read of the Full-Day Kindergarten Program changes, the pros and cons can be, unsurprisingly, polarized.

The Ontario Ministry of Education Press Release talks about providing families with "more options for before- and after-school programs". The Ontario government "plans to introduce legislation that would, if passed, give school boards the option to deliver before- and after-school programs directly, or to make agreements with third-party providers to offer these programs on an ongoing basis."

They refer to these changes as a means of ensuring families continue to have access to "seamless" programs.

But if you read the Toronto Star article, Province to scrap key piece of full-day kindergarten plan, it sounds like parents don't share the same "seamless" vision:
“It’s difficult for children this age to be moving from program to program,” she said.

“We have heard that third parties will be providing this, but I’m not sure it makes sense. The issue is who is going to provide the care? How will they ensure the quality? And what about the cost?"
The original recommendation - put forth by the province's early learning adviser, Charles Pascal, treated the extended-day feature (where the respective Board was responsible for running before- and after-school care for full-day kindergarten students) as a key part of the plan. For many researchers, this feature is the difference between running a program with an early learning vision or simply providing full-day kindergarten.

There has been massive lobbying from both daycares and boards, both believing they stood to lose a lot if the extended-day feature went ahead as recommended.

For some background on the program see our Overview of the Full Day Kindergarten Initiative in Ontario.