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Child-care advocates set out roadmap for Saskatchewan government

Click to play video: 'Sask. groups laying out roadmap to create quality early learning'
Sask. groups laying out roadmap to create quality early learning
WATCH: As child care programs get a boost in funding from the Canadian government, several groups are creating a roadmap for building quality early learning in Saskatchewan. – Dec 15, 2021

Early learning and child-care advocacy groups in Saskatchewan have laid out a detailed plan that they say maps out how the province can get on track to prepare for the arrival of $10-a-day child care by 2025.

Read more: Saskatchewan announces agreement for $10-a-day child care

The Saskatchewan-Canada child care agreement announced this summer will support $10-per-day early learning and care by the end of the 2025 fiscal year.

“We wanted to get it right and it’s been a while since we’ve written a vision for Saskatchewan,” said Sue Delanoy with the Childcare Now Coalition. “So this is our opportunity to write a foundational piece.”

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After consultation with educators and families in a range of communities, the advocacy groups have created a comprehensive roadmap for the provincial government.

The roadmap is intended to guide the formation of the first official system for all young children in Saskatchewan — which includes more affordability for families, more facilities and better compensation for educators in the province.

Georgia Lavallee, executive director of the Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association, says the retention of quality educators is one of the key points and sets the difference between general care and early development for the critical first few years of life.

Read more: Child care fee refund grants coming to some Sask. parents in new deal with Ottawa

“The acknowledgement and the awareness of how important early childhood educators are in our society is huge,” Lavallee says.

The plan also hits key points outlined in the United NationsRights Of The Child which focuses on the health and wellbeing of children and includes access to education and care from birth.

The rights-focused approach could also impact the entire population though, say advocates, when fewer adults need health or social support down the road.

More immediately, Lavallee says it will allow more parents to go back to work.

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“When families have access to affordable early learning and child care, both partners would be able to re-enter the workforce if they so choose,” Lavallee says.

Read more: Saskatchewan government encourages home-based child-care providers to become regulated

These advocates also say that while getting back to work is key for many families, governments should keep in mind that child care should be about getting kids what they need, not getting them out of the way.

“Traditionally, it is looked at as — it is there because families go to work,” says Don Giesbrecht, chief executive of the Canadian Child Care Federation. “We need to pull that back and understand that this is the right of young children to have access to high-quality early learning care.”

In a statement to Global News, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education says that it will continue to focus on its own framework plan, but adds that, “we will take the recommendations outlined in the roadmap into consideration alongside other perspectives in our province.”

Read more: Saskatchewan allocates 601 regulated child care spaces in 20 communities

The roadmap’s creators are hopeful the government will reach out for more feedback as they continue to build up child care availability in the coming year.

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