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Message about the future of Early Learning

This is an important message about the future of early learning and Inspiring Minds Early Learning Centre (IMELC). Action is required by Friday, April 1st, 2016.

Over the last few months you may have heard or seen news reports of pending regulatory changes for the early learning and child care sector from the Ministry of Education. These changes will impact IMELC’s ability to offer affordable, quality childcare in our community.

While the IMELC Board of Directors and staff eagerly embrace positive change, we strongly believe the proposed changes will make it virtually impossible for us to continue offering the level of care we currently provide without significant cost increases across our programs.

The Ministry’s goal is to create more childcare spaces for infants. However, the proposed changes to the age groupings and ratios for infants, toddlers and preschoolers will negatively impact IMELC’s financial stability. The proposed changes will require us to increase our staffing and potentially require expensive physical upgrades. For example, due to the physical space requirements, our toddler program will become limited to 8 children (currently 10 children), in addition an increase to the number of staff will be required.

In the proposed plan:

  • Children aged 2 will be classified as preschoolers and can be grouped with children as old as age 5 (currently 2.5 to 5 years of age). The educator to preschooler ratio will remain at 1:8 with the maximum group size of 24. This is very significant because this program would now include 2 year olds who, until this change, were in the toddler room with a 1:5 ratio
  • Toddlers will be classified as children aged 1 to 2 years (currently 1.5 to 2.5 years) and will require an educator to toddler ratio of 1:4 (currently 1:5) and the maximum group size will decrease to 12 children (currently 15 children).

As a not for profit organization, IMELC was very seriously impacted by the implementation of full day kindergarten by the Ministry of Education. With these proposed changes to the staff/child ratio, IMELC would require rates to increase by over $4,000 annually for our toddler program, and over $1,000 annually for our preschool program. The proposed changes will impact many unsuspecting members of our community, especially those planning to have children in the next few years.

And IMELC is not alone. There is a broad consensus that, if passed, these regulations would significantly hamper the quality of care available to young children and families across Ontario. The Association of Early Childhood Education Ontario (AECEO) and Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), two organizations who are strong advocates for excellence in early childhood education, are providing research and support materials that counter the Ministry’s proposed changes.

We need the Ministry of Education to reconsider their proposed changes to age ranges, ratios and group sizes. If you support the availability of high-quality, affordable licensed early learning centres in your community – and in your province – please send that message to the Ministry of Education before Friday, April 1st, 2016.

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