Sask. government continues early learning support for students with intensive needs

Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant was at St. Peter School in Regina on Tuesday to visit students who are now attending the Early Learning Intensive Support Pilot. Adrian Raaber / Global News

Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant visited students attending the Early Learning Intensive Support Pilot at St. Peter School in Regina on Tuesday.

With support from the government of Canada, the pilot was launched last spring and provides funding for school divisions to help with creating new spaces in existing pre-kindergarten programs for students with intensive needs.

“We are very excited to see more of our youngest students getting the extra supports they need, which includes hiring additional educational assistants,” Wyant said.

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“We are grateful for the government of Canada’s commitment to supporting inclusive early learning environments for Saskatchewan children.”

Close to 90 preschool-aged children with intensive needs are attending the programs at 16 schools in Regina and 30 schools in Saskatoon.

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“The program, while just in its infancy, has meant a lot to our family,” Allyson Minaker, the parent of a child attending the program, said.

“It gives our son, who has autism, a place to learn and grow. He is in a school where he can gain independence while having the support of a wonderful instructional assistant.”

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The early learning intensive support pilot can accommodate up to 120 students, with funding through the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement which allows school divisions to add support like hiring educational assistants.

“We know how important it is for children to have a good start in life so that they can succeed,” said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

“Early learning opportunities play a vital role in the development of a child and this new pilot will help more children with intensive needs in Regina and Saskatoon reach their full potential.”

Regina Public, Greater Saskatoon Catholic and Saskatoon Public school divisions are now accepting applications for three- and four-year-olds with intensive needs.

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