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N.S. auditor general says pre-primary program was not adequately planned

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Nova Scotia’s auditor general said the government’s pre-primary program was not adequately planned before it was launched in classrooms across the province in 2017.

Auditor general Kim Adair-MacPherson released a report Wednesday that looks into the way the pre-primary program was planned and implemented by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in 2017.

In the report, Adair-MacPherson said the department didn’t set specific measurable goals to evaluate the program’s effectiveness or create a process to monitor risk.

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“With only five months between program announcement and launch, the Department didn’t complete a thorough planning process, which may have contributed to some of the issues found in our audit,” Adair-MacPherson said in a press release.

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Some of the issues include that the regional centres for education didn’t ensure that pre-primary staff had completed the required background checks or provided proof of qualifications before working in the classroom.

Also, consultation with families and the child-care industry didn’t happen until after the first year of the program began. The pre-primary program is now in its fourth year.

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“While the consultations helped inform some positive changes, identifying concerns in advance of implementation would have allowed time for licensed childcare providers to prepare for potential impacts and the Department to identify strategies to support the industry,” says the auditor general.

To improve the pre-primary program, Adair-MacPherson made nine recommendations in the report, including establishing specific and measurable goals for the program, introducing regular evaluations to determine if they are being met, and ensuring all background checks for staff are completed.

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The full report is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Nova Scotia website.

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