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Wellesley forum looks at the impacts of full-day kindergarten

Event hopes to answer parents’ questions ahead of program’s rollout in township

All-day kindergarten rolls out in more rural schools next fall, generating questions from another group of parents about to find themselves on new ground.

In a community like Wellesley Township where many families have young children, childcare is a growing issue, said Krista Schott, supervisor of Inspiring Minds Early Learning Centre, one of the organizers of a community forum on January 22. The event will help parents figure out their options for childcare.

“We received feedback from many parents in our community that they wanted more information about full-day kindergarten. The regional school board had offered some open houses in the fall but they were all within Kitchener, Waterloo or Cambridge. We invited the school board to come out to a rural area to talk about full-day kindergarten to put the parents at ease,” Schott said this week.

The other half of the event will focus on childcare options in rural areas. As the township’s population increases, parents are finding they’re running out of options in rural areas. The issue is apparent at the centre, where spots fill up fast, she noted.

“We have an extensive waiting list here. We realize we can’t provide care for everyone who needs it, so there are other options. Potentially, there are more options with full-day kindergarten with the extended day programming and the youth development program.”

In addition to the programs the Wellesley centre will offer, a part-day program starts in September, running daily from 9:30 a.m. to 2:35 p.m. Other options for parents include Wellesley’s pre-school, home care, the extended day program run by the school boards and a youth development program through the YMCA.

The school board’s extended day program for four- and five-year-olds runs in connection with the core program of full-day kindergarten delivered by early childhood educators. It will be offered before the regular school hours at the start of the weekday and continue at the end of the day.

An outpouring of questions from the community shows there are several issues that need to be addressed in the upcoming event, said Schott.

“People do want licensed care and there is a demand for it. I think it shows that sometimes there is not enough care available.”

Parents at the Inspiring Minds had several concerns, she added.

“They wanted a bit of a comparison on how [full-day kindergarten] is the same as childcare, how is it different than childcare. What happens if their child is tired? What happens if they needs help in the washroom – some of the personal care things? Do they have to attend every day? What is the program like on a day-to-day basis?”

Inspiring Minds Early Learning Centre in Wellesley will be hosting the early learning and full-day kindergarten community forum on January 22 at the Wellesley Community Centre, 1000 Maple Leaf St., running from 6:45-9:40 p.m.

The forum will consist of an information fair and presentations by the Ontario Early Years Centre, Waterloo Region Public Library, and guests from the Waterloo Region’s public and Catholic school boards. Visit wellesleycommunityforum.eventbrite.ca to register.

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