Excerpt from executive summary:
A child's experiences during the early years have the greatest influence of any time in the life cycle on brain development, learning, behaviour and health. The single most important factor affecting young children's development - after a child's home environment and his or her relationship with parents - is the quality of the early learning and care services they receive. Children who experience high-quality early learning and care develop better social skills, have fewer behavioural problems and score higher on achievement and language tests than children who experience low or mediocre-quality care. High quality early learning and care is particularly important for children living in poverty, children with special needs, new Canadians, and children in minority communities: it gives them opportunities to develop the foundational knowledge and skills, resilience and emotional maturity they need to succeed in school and society. It is equally important for children from stable, advantaged families who experience negative effects if programs do not provide responsive, stimulating environments.
The quality of early learning and care services depends on four key factors:
• effective policies, funding and infrastructure
• knowledgeable, committed practitioners with post-secondary education in
early childhood development who are appropriately compensated for their
• well designed programs with the capacity to meet the needs of all children
• strong partnerships with parents.
Investing in high quality early learning and care services for children and families is the most economically efficient investment a society can make. Ontario has made a commitment to invest in high quality early learning and care services that will help all of Ontario's young children reach their full potential. To fulfill this commitment, the province must provide significant ongoing leadership to develop the policies, practitioners, programs and partnerships with parents required to deliver high quality services.