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N.S. to consult with non-profit, private childcare providers ahead of pre-primary rollout: minister

N.S. to consult with non-profit, private childcare providers ahead of pre-primary rollout: minister
From Global News - August 11, 2017

Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill says the province is moving ahead rapidly with its plan to bring in pre-primary education this year, and says part of this includes working with non-profit and private care operators.

More than 770 families have registered for pre-primary so far, Churchill said, and 43 schools across the province have been selected for the free program for four-year-olds.

But concerns have been raised into whether the program will be ready, come September. Last month, Churchill said 50 pre-primary classes will open in the last week of September, contingent on hiring.

READ MORE:Worries mount for private, non-profit childcare centres ahead of N.S. pre-primary rollout

We know that theres a demand for it and were working very diligently with our school boards to have the appropriate staffing complement in place so that we have all these classrooms set and ready to go for this fall, Churchill said.

The program will operate during normal school hours for children who are at least four years of age by Dec. 31. The total cost for the first year, according to the minister, will be $4.1 million.

At the schools, there will also be a looser educator-to-child ratio than those run by child-care centres. There will be one early childhood educator [ECE] for every 10 children, with three in classes with more than 20 children to a maximum of 24 children per class. Childcare centres are required to meet a ratio of one ECE for every eight children.

Non-profit, private childcare providers concerned

The anticipated rollout, however, has left many private and non-profit childcare program providers feeling on edge.

Earlier this week, a member of the Private Licensed Administrators Association told Global News that a school board has informed parents not to withdraw their children in case the programming does not start on time. Not knowing how long children will remain in their programs has created difficulty for providers budgets and planning for the upcoming year.

WATCH:Hundreds of Nova Scotians have already registered for the pre-primary program unveiled yesterday. While some parents are getting on board early, others are taking a wait-and-see approach. Marieke Walsh reports.

Consultations coming

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