I received an e-mail from the YMCA of Western Ontario (think London and region) on the pending implementation of full-day kindergarten. (Full disclosure: I work part-time as a lifeguard/instructor and youth program employee at the YMCA of Woodstock, which is a branch of the YMCA of Western Ontario) I imagine the messaging in the e-mail from YMCA WO CEO Shaun Elliott is similar to that issued by YMCAs in other communities across Ontario.
From the e-mail:
YMCAs in Ontario support the vision for full day learning for four and five year olds, says Shaun Elliott, CEO, YMCA of Western Ontario.The message was in response to hearings on Bill 242, which were held earlier today in Toronto. Elliott spoke on behalf of all Ontario YMCAs along with staff members from the YMCA of Greater Toronto. There is an additional day of hearings scheduled for Tuesday.
“From both a developmental and educational perspective, this is sound public policy. Our concern is that Bill 242 goes far beyond the government’s stated objectives and will have the unintended effect of de-stabilizing Ontario’s overall licensed child care system. Ultimately, parents will be left with fewer options and higher costs."
The YMCA’s concerns centre on Bill 242’s requirement that school boards directly operate extended day programs (before and after school hours) for children enrolled in junior and senior kindergarten. The Bill specifically prohibits school boards from partnering with local not-for-profit providers to offer those extended day programs.
YMCAs want the Bill amended to allow school boards the option of entering into or continuing partnerships with community providers like the YMCA. “We are already partners with schools, the model is working and it’s cost effective,” Elliott says. “We can help the Ontario government achieve its vision for ensuring our children have the best quality education and care.”
The Y's main concerns appear to be that the ministry's mandated program structure doesn't allow for existing arrangements with community partners already offering before- and after-school care for all children to to continue for the kids registered in full-day kindergarten. So either the community partner walks away, or it runs a parallel program to the one the board offers in a duplication of some service and effort.
The other point isn't surprising either— with school boards hiring more early childhood educators (ECEs), they're going to be pressured to be represented by an existing employee union, and also to be paid at a rate equivalent to other board support staff member positions. In many cases, that rate ceiling is higher than what these accredited, professionally certified ECEs (they do have their own college) are earning as employees of not-for-profits such as the Y.
There was a virtual smorgasbord of other speakers Monday, and as interesting of an assortment Tuesday. If time allows in the coming days once the Hansard is posted, I'll throw up some links and some additional thoughts.