In the 2008 Throne Speech, the B.C. government made a commitment to "assess the feasibility and costs of full school day kindergarten for five-year-olds." It also promised to "undertake a feasibility study of providing parents with the choice of day-long kindergarten for four-year-olds by 2010, and for three-year-olds by 2012."
The feasibility study began in spring 2008. It includes consideration of available research findings as well as an analysis of costs in areas including capital, operating and human resources.
B.C.'s Early Childhood Learning Agency is also gathering views and opinions from a wide range of groups and individuals to help ensure the government's actions are aligned with British Columbians' needs and priorities. This paper is part of the process of stimulating dialogue.
Currently, half-day kindergarten is universally available in B.C. public schools to children who turn five before January 1 of a school year. Boards of Education are also funded when they provide full-day kindergarten to certain populations: English as a Second Language students, Aboriginal students, and designated categories of students with special needs.
The province also funds kindergarten programs at independent schools. Some First Nations band schools, funded by the federal government, offer both four- and five-year-old kindergarten.
Throughout British Columbia, pre-school, early learning and child care programs for three- and four-year-olds are offered for a fee by multiple providers, with subsidies available for families below a certain income threshold.
Responsibility for early learning, child care, and early childhood development programs is shared between the ministries of education and children and family development.
This paper was prepared by the B.C. Early Childhood Learning Agency to encourage a dialogue and elicit views from a wide range of people and organizations on the expansion of early learning programs in British Columbia.
Comments must be submitted by July 18, 2008.
Written submissions can be mailed to:
Early Childhood Learning Agency
Ministry of Education
Box 9158 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9H3