Letter to the Council Members of Peel Region

Here is an amazing letter from a concerned citizen regarding Peel Region Child Care closure recommendations.

We agree with Mr. Bryan in his letter, when he states:

"A 2010 Federation of Canadian Municipalities Quality of Life Reporting System report, which found the Region of Peel had nine children living in low income for every available subsidized childcare space, the highest ratio among all large municipalities in Canada. These demographic factors points to the existing and impending crisis, that if not carefully handled might result in Peel progressing to become a region of social disorder. Disorder in our schools; leading to disorder in our communities; leading to disorder in our society. The decision that we are calling on the Councilors to make is more than just saving the centres, we are asking you the save the future. The region needs more such centres, not less."

 

Dear Council Members,

I greet you on behalf of a coalition of concerned parents and like-minded individuals who have joined hands and hearts together around an issue that has awakened deep emotions and outpourings of distress. I greet you on behalf of a section of the community that holds dear to the cherished ideal of representational governance. Most importantly, I greet you on behalf of our precious children, that most vulnerable section of our community that requires our nurturing and support, and who are depending on us adults to remember them and do the right thing. I greet you on behalf of our future.

The purpose of this letter however, is not merely to exchange greetings. My aim is to ask you to pause for a moment to consider the self-declared motto of the Region of Peel and what it means to you. The motto, as you know, proudly declares the ‘Region of Peel – working for you,’ and in so doing assigns itself a role that is self-evident in what it declares itself to be about. Sadly however, the present report from the Region of Peel recommending the closure of all regionally-operated childcare centres, calls into question exactly what the Region of Peel  is about, and most importantly, who it is working for. The Region, through the report submitted to council calling for the closure of all the regionally-operated childcare centres, has proven that it is certainly not working for the region’s children.

The report that is presented before you places you, the members of council, with the task to make a decision that goes way beyond the proposed closure of the childcare facilities. The report is asking you to make a decision that will have an immediate effect on all the children that are presently enrolled in these centres, but even more important, is the effect that the proposed closure will have on their future as well as the future of other children in the region. It is a decision that will send a clear statement on the type of region that we are, and the ideals that we cherish. It is a decision that will measure how much we, as community, care for its most vulnerable and delicate citizen. As members of council, you have been entrusted by the community with the responsibility of organizing and legislating for a system of education and institutional childcare geared towards the wholesome development of its children. It is an awesome responsibility, which is precisely why only a select few are called on and entrusted to make the right decisions affecting this most delicate and vulnerable section of our community. You, the select few, are being asked by the children not to turn them out into the ‘cold’ by closing down these regionally-operated centres. We, their parents, their teachers, and other like-minded people, are reaching out to each of you on their behalf. They are hoping you will take the time to hear them.

The report from the Region presents you with two options for your consideration. You can choose to accept the recommendation of the report and close all the centres or, you can, as I am hoping you will, reject the  dollars and cents proposition of the report, and return it back to sender with a decision that recognizes  the real dollars and sense consideration that any decent society should almost by default apply towards its children, and especially as it relates to the environment that facilitates the nurturing and development of  those who  will be asked to accept the challenges that this generation will hand over  to them. The cents have been laid out in the report, disingenuous as some of the arguments are. But what about the sense?  What about the life-changingfunction of learning and nurturing that as responsible guardians of the future of the societies we are called on to provide for our children? The report is asking you to take a blinkered view on that function. But at what cost?

If the business of administering these early childhood education centres is expensive, as the report  implicitly claims, then perhaps the Region should pause to consider the real cost of ignorance, or specifically, the real cost to society of socially and developmentally maladjusted youths. Council can take the time to consider and compute the real costs now, or you can choose to defer considering the real costs of turning our backs on our children, until we have to encounter it 15-20 years from now. Perhaps the real costs will become clear when a report goes before a future council asking for funding to expand the number of jails; or painful to contemplate, a request going before a future council to increase funding  for programs geared towards assisting rape victims, or battered and abused women. Perhaps the Region, through the report, is asking Council to defer considering the real costs of closing the centres now, and instead defer it for when a future Council is presented with reports and requests to fund programs to combat school-based violence; or funding to support anti-bullying programs; or funding to support educational programs to combat incidences of teenage pregnancies. Perhaps the present council would prefer a future council to consider funding requests for programs that would encourage more boys to complete high school. Perhaps council will determine that the real cost of closing down the centres can best be addressed by a future council when they are faced with mounting requests to fund more social assistance programs for people who have fallen outside of the margins of society. The present report before you is asking you to ignore the image of these certain realties that are vividly being painted with every word recommending the closure of the centres.  These are the very realities that High Scope curriculum administered by the regionally-operated centres, and as demonstrated by many studies and indices, has successfully avoided.

The report from the Region quickly referenced Dr. Charles Pascal’s report entitled ‘With our Best Future in Mind – Implementing Early Learning in Ontario.’  But what the report from the Region was deficient on, are the studies and researches that validates the High Scope Program administered by the regionally- managed childcare centres, and how it consistently and successfully equips and transition better-adjusted children into society. Tracer studies conducted on students who passed through the regionally administered High Scope program, and followed up at age 27, indicates that when compared with other control groups who underwent other learning programs; that they have far fewer arrests, including dealing drugs; they place far less reliance on public assistance as adults; they have far fewer births out of wedlock, they achieve home ownership at a faster rate; and they out-perform the other group in achieving 12th-Grade education or higher.  If, as the title of Dr. Pascal’s reports suggests, we really do have the best future in mind, then I urge you not to ignore the successful outcomes achieved by the regionally-operated centres. Ignoring these outcomes and closing down the centres for an alternative that has yet to prove itself, would be playing lottery with our children’s future. If we take the immediate and drastic step to close down the centres, when even Dr. Pascal himself recommended the phasing-in of full-day kindergarten, we would be recklessly asking our kids to cross a busy highway, while we stand on the other side watching them – hoping that they get across safely, but just merely hoping. We already know that the learning programs of the regionally-operated centres works. The Region should be looking to replicate these successes by adding more such centres, not closing them down.

Let me at this point declare that I am in no way advocating against full-day kindergarten.  In fact, I am in support of the expansion and phasing in of full-day kindergarten across the Region. What I am advocating for however, is a system of education that is ready and right for our children – but only when it is ready and right. The present state of full-day kindergarten in the region suggests that it is not yet ready.  Nor are many of the licensed privately-operated childcare facilities. If you doubt my suggestion, then perhaps you can talk with that Mother, who in enrolling her son in one of these licensed childcare facility, was greeted with the shocking news on returning to collect him in the evening on his very first day of attendance at the facility, that he was lost. Better yet, speak with the single-mother whose daughter was doing very well in one of the regionally-operated centre, but after transitioning her to full-day kindergarten, her daughter went into depression. She stopped eating, lost about 5 pounds, cried every day, and even reversed on some of the developmental gains she had achieved under the regionally administered program. Fortunately the mother quickly pulled her daughter and re-enrolled her in one of the regional centres where her daughter was able to quickly regain and surpassed her previously achieved development milestones. Ask other parents about their experiences with full-day kindergarten, and why some of them decided to withdraw their children from some of these schools and re-enroll then in one of the regionally-managed centres. Speak with some of the parents who send their kids to some of the privately-operated  and licensed home-based childcare operators and you may be alarmed at the kind of experiences that the Region would be asking us to subject our children to in closing down the centres. Keeping the 12 regionally-operated centres open even while the Region of Peel strengthens its role as ‘system manager’ is not mutually exclusive. It does not have to be one or the other.

The Region’s report to Council cites a 2010 Federation of Canadian Municipalities Quality of Life Reporting System report, which found the Region of Peel had nine children living in low income for every available subsidized childcare space, the highest ratio among all large municipalities in Canada. Not just in Ontario, but the entire Canada! The same report identifies that Peel has the third-highest low income rate for young children among the six municipalities in the GTA and Hamilton. Further, Peel recorded the second highest growth rate among large municipalities in Ontario.

All of these demographic factors points to the existing and impending crisis, that if not carefully handled might result in Peel progressing to become a region of social disorder. Disorder in our schools; leading to disorder in our communities; leading to disorder in our society. The decision that we are calling on the Councilors to make is more than just saving the centres, we are asking you the save the future. The region needs more such centres, not less. These centres, that have done a stellar job in preparing better equipped children for future roles in society needs your support. These centres, and the hard-working and passionately committed staff, have recognized that all our children have special needs, and that some have very special needs.  Until there are adequate and suitable childcare facilities available with the kind of programs provided by the regional-operated centres, and until full-day kindergarten programs are ready and right; then I urge the members of Council not to let go of the hands of our children and ask them to cross a busy street, hoping that they will get across safely – but just merely hoping.

Please vote to keep our childcare centres open.

 

 

Respectfully yours;

 

Dwight Bryan

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