By Jessica Lovell
With the last few local schools set to offer full-day kindergarten in the fall, there are a number of new child care programs set to begin to help parents fill in the gaps before and after school.
“There are 10 more programs this year coming up in September,” said Upper Grand District School Board communications officer Maggie McFadzen. That means six new extended day programs for junior and senior kindergarten students in the public school board. They include programs at Jean Little, John McCrae, Paisley Road, Sir Isaac Brock and Victory Public schools, as well as the new Arbour Vista school set to open on Zaduk Place.
In the Wellington Catholic District School Board there is at least one Guelph school that will be getting a new extended day program, too. Guelph’s YMCA-YWCA has announced that among new child care offerings this fall, it would be providing extended-day care at Holy Trinity school, on the city’s east side. “It’s a big need over there,” Guelph Y manager of child care services Kim Daw said of child care services in the east end.
This fall, the Y will be providing not just before- and after-school care for kindergarteners at Holy Trinity, but also a “school age” program for six- to 12-year-olds, Daw said.
The programs are based on demand, which is determined first by surveys done by the school boards. If the school board determines there is demand for a program, the board then puts out a request for proposals for child care providers to provide the care.
Which child care provider operates the program may differ from school to school.
For example, the new programs at Arbour Vista and Sir Isaac Brock school are provided by the Montessori School of Wellington. The programs at Jean Little, John McCrae and Paisley Road schools will be provided by the Y. In all of these cases, the kids stay in their regular schools.
“It’s meant to be an extension of their day,” said Daw.
The programs are meant to offer kids a seamless transition between their school day and the care they need before that day begins or after it ends.
But at the same time, the care is different from their school day programming, said Daw. During the school day, there is a teacher in the classroom. When the school day ends, only early childhood educators (ECEs) are required to be there.
There must be one ECE for every 10 children, said Daw.
Currently, the new programs that the Y will be offering are being licensed for 20 children at each site, she said.
Though there may be waiting lists at some sites, Daw said she is not sure how long they are. Also, some parents chose to be on a waiting list rather than signing up for extended day programs, because they were still investigating other child care options, she said.
For the Y, which provides most of the extended care programs in Guelph, full-day kindergarten has changed the face of its child care programs.
“It’s not eliminating any programs,” said Daw. But it does change the demographic in the preschool programs it offers.
“We won’t have any four- and five-year-olds in our preschool programs,” she said.
It reduces enrollment, so offering extended care in schools is a way for the Y to mitigate those effects, she said.
Every site is different, and not all schools that have child care programs offer care both before and after school. Some sites have toddler and preschool programs as well as extended day programs for kindergarteners and programs for six- to 12-year-olds.
To see what is offered at your child’s school, visit the school board websites, wellingtoncssb.edu.on.ca or ugdsb.on.ca, or contact schools directly.
By Jessica Lovell