Modernizing child care, modeling effective public policy by communities
Last week the Ontario government introduced a new bill that’s a milestone for the province on many levels, and is a model for policy making by and for communities.
The Child Care Modernization Act, 2013 (Bill 143) is a strong and cohesive piece of legislation that will address the serious issues related to unregulated child care in the province of Ontario while repealing the Day Nurseries Act and creating a positive framework for legislative change in the licensed child care sector in Ontario.
The intent of the legislative changes is to transform the child care and early years system to enhance safety, and foster the learning, development, health and well-being of children.
Looking at the big picture, child care is not just about day care, but has a significant impact on many areas of community and provincial health. It’s about strategically reaching children in their critical early years, which prepares them for development in school and as far as into the working world, along with supporting children’s healthier lives and well being. It also supports parents and communities, and their ability to participate in the workforce.
This is a big deal for the sector, with many nonprofits developing, overseeing and delivering early years programs and services in communities.
The Early Learning and Child Care sector has endured many years of transformation and change, and the speedy passage of Bill 143 through the legislative process will assist the child care sector, and is being actively sought.
Bill 143 is in fact a work of art. The Ministry of Education completed consultations around the modernization of Child Care last summer, and has been able to include virtually all of the recommendations that were put forward by the sector.
The boldness of the legislation is in repealing the Day Nurseries Act of 1946, and not just amending it. That single act enables a framework to be put into place that enables the modernization of the sector, and the incremental building of a new vision for early learning in Ontario.
While it does not complete the job – it sets the stage for strengthening public policy, and demonstrates what can happen when government and the sector work together on behalf of communities.
Peter Frampton is the Executive Director of The Learning Enrichment Foundation. With thanks to the Quality Early Learning Network for information and analysis.