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Expanding early childhood education and care programming: Highlights of a literature review, and public policy implications for British Columbia

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Goelman, Hillel; Anderson, Lynell; Kershaw, Paul & Mort, Janet
Publication Date: 
1 Nov 2008

Excerpts from the report:

Should British Columbia invest more public funds into early education and care programs for young children? The research strongly suggests that the answer is a resounding "yes" &em; with a caveat. Early childhood education and care programs can provide positive developmental outcomes for children and they can support families, no matter what the "label" of the program is: kindergarten, pre-kindergarten, daycare, child care, preschool, early learning, etc. However, early childhood education and care programs only work if the underlying public policy and investments promote high quality experiences and equitable access for children and their families.

The current BC discussion on early childhood education and care programs for young children was initiated by the February 2008 throne speech in which the Province announced:
A new Early Childhood Learning Agency will be established. It will assess the feasibility and costs of full school day kindergarten for five-year-olds. It will also 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. That report will be completed and released within the year.

In response to the throne speech, the Early Childhood Learning Agency (Agency) was created and situated within the Ministry of Education. In the spring of 2008 the Agency approached the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) to conduct a literature review of early childhood education and care (ECEC).

In this report we share highlights of the literature review. We begin with a brief description of the approach used to generate the literature review and the public policy context that framed our work. We report on ECEC policies and programs in other jurisdictions, followed by findings from BC. We then examine the following five key issues in more detail: "school readiness" and child development outcomes in ECEC programs; parental preferences regarding ECEC programs; the inclusion of children from diverse cultural groups and with differing abilities; program expansion and integration of education and care; and issues related to the development of a comprehensive ECEC strategy. Finally we identify what we see as the major public policy implications of the literature review.