The early years of a child’s life provide the foundation for development. A healthy birth, a nurturing home environment, and caring and supportive communities are critical in helping every child reach their full potential.
Despite this realization, Canada has been slow to develop policies and practices that support children and their families – especially in the key area of early childhood education and care (early learning and child care, pre-school programs and kindergarten). High quality early childhood education and care environments, that meet family needs in the home and community, represent critical investments which help to prepare children for a lifetime of learning, support families’ employment and economic participation, and foster social integration and community development.
At present, families with young children (0 to 6 years of age) in the Foundation’s funding area have limited, and unequal, access to high quality early learning and care that is affordable and accessible. The programs and services available are funded and delivered in a largely uncoordinated manner – with differing eligibility requirements, varied program formats, and different public and private cost structures. As a result, parents are required to choose from a limited array of options with a family’s access to service heavily dependent on where they live, their own financial resources and their particular work and child care needs.
The Foundation’s work in the area of early childhood education and care reflects its interests both in engaging stakeholders to consider how early childhood education and care can better be funded and delivered to meet the needs of all families and in building the capacity of charities that work in the area to deliver high quality education and care.
Two main goals guide this work:
- To foster, promote and support the organizational vehicles and processes that will enable charitable early childhood and care organizations to play a full role in the development of public policy related to early childhood education and care.
- To support the development of increased organizational capacity in early childhood and care charitable organizations with an emphasis on executive and management staff.
If all families are to have access to affordable, accessible high quality early childhood education and care then significant changes are required in how early childhood education and care is both funded and delivered.
Changes of this nature will require that parents, early childhood educators, researchers and policymakers come together to agree on a broad vision for early childhood education care, that is underpinned by policies that support families with young children, and sustained by substantial public investment.
Foundation Supported Work
The Foundation currently supports the following work in the area of early childhood education and care through its own charitable activity and through grant and contract funding.