Small uptake of the extended day program across province

The Toronto Star

Predictions at this point are that just 15% of Ontario schools implementing the full-day learning program (already just 15% of schools) in September are going to offer the extended day program.

“That’s very low uptake — if there’s 600 schools, that’s 90 schools in the whole province,” said Annie Kidder of the advocacy group People for Education. As a parent, “you need security, you need sureness, you need to know exactly what it is,” she added. “I really do think it’s a disappointment, to say the least, that this wasn’t organized much, much sooner.”

Catherine Fife, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (and OCBCC council member), said “there’s no question that people want full-day — there’s a strong uptake on that component.”

Parents have a lot of questions about the care that their children receive such as quality, who will be the staff, whether or not it will be offered on non-school days (such as PA/PD days and statutory holidays), and what the fees will be. With the delay of regulations from the Ministry of Education, boards were unable to answer these questions. The regulations were not announced until Tuesday, June 8th. Boards are required to let families know what programs will be offered, what they will consist of, and what they will cost by the end of this month.

It has certainly been a stressful and confusing time for parents with children entering Phase 1 schools, not knowing whether or not there will be before- and- after school programs are available, and if so, if there is space for their child.

Fife says that as things become clearer, and demand is known, more before- and after- school programs may be announced:

“Boards really are trying to make the program as accessible as possible,” she said. “We realize that the extended day is the key to the success of the entire vision of the early learning program” of providing a “seamless day” of schooling and care for kids.

Fife said the Waterloo Region District School Board, has set a tentative price of $29 a day for the extended daycare — $13 covering 7 to 9 a.m., and $16 for 3:15 to 6 p.m. — just to give parents an idea of what to expect. It is aiming for an average enrolment of 18 kids.

She acknowledged the cost is high at $145 a week, or almost $600 a month. “We have to cover our costs. As you know, (boards) can’t run a deficit.”

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