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Residents protesting Keyano plans to suspend early learning and child care diploma program

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Barry, Garrett
Publication Date: 
21 Jun 2015



A group of residents working to pressure Keyano administration fear a permanent cut to the school’s child care diploma would weaken care in Fort McMurray.

Janet Huffman, coordinator of the Catholic School District’s after-school program, has authored a petition calling on Keyano to reinstate the diploma, which was suspended by administration in June. She will meet with college administration on Tuesday to voice concerns about the cuts, according to Keyano officials.

Huffman says the level of preparation offered in the college’s one-year certificate program cannot compete with the education students receive when they complete a diploma.

“It would be like if you had a car, you had a beautiful sports car and you need to have the engine redone on your sports car,” she said. “Are you going to give it to a mechanic who only has two years of his journeyman certificate? Or would you give it to that technician who has four years. Where would you feel safer?”

Huffman, a graduate of the Keyano diploma program herself, says that the second-year diploma program is where students capture much of the theory behind child care and child development, which she calls vital.

According to provincial rules, only individuals who complete a diploma-level of education can supervise in licensed childcare spaces. Huffman says she and the group of child-care workers and parents rallying with her fear that the diploma program suspension will lead to fewer licensed supervisors and eventually fewer available childcare spaces in the region.

On June 1, Keyano announced that the college’s Early Learning and Child Care diploma program would be suspended, along with 11 other programs, due to financial pressures.

Catherine Koch, the college’s academic vice-president, said low enrollment numbers made the program impossible to offer. According to Koch, the program had the equivalent of nine full-time students this year.

However, she says that the college is looking to find an alternative to the program’s current setup that would make the program financially sustainable. Koch says the school is hoping to develop a plan by December that will allow the school to restore the program in September of 2016.

“I think we have to review the curriculum and we will probably have some focus groups to see what potential applicants will be looking for in the way that the program has been delivered,” she said, explaining that the school will look at the possibility of offering classes on a part-time schedule.

“I’m certainly hoping to bring it back by September of 2016,” she said.