This is an opportunity for ordinary people to be heard.
We asked six people to be our citizen commentators during the campaign. Each chose an issue they believe in passionately. You'll hear from them between now and the week of the election, and we encourage you to react by adding your comments.
Chris Chuckry is a self-employed, work-at-home dad, who tries to keep his business and family life peacefully cohabiting in close quarters and odd hours.
September 21, 2011
The Liberal Party platform sounds promising. It's entitled, "Strong Families, Healthy Communities."(http://mlp.manitobaliberals.ca/09/09/ndp-fails-to-deliver-daycare-spaces-liberals-promise-plan-to-do-better/) Let's take a closer look at their plan for childcare.
The Liberals feel that there should be more daycare spots now and that existing waiting times for a spot are unacceptable. They are touting a five-year universal plan and are pledging to spend $45 million to implement it. This plan also commits to increasing the number of early childhood education spaces and hiring more childcare professionals. Also promised is early screening for learning disabilities so that children can be paired with the appropriate support when they are in class.
Overall, this sounds like a great idea: more daycare spaces sooner and less waiting time to get a spot. I'm guessing that the Liberals would accelerate the current rate of growth of daycare spots. The NDP and PC parties have endorsed creating an additional 6,500 daycare spots by 2013.
The Liberal plan also incorporates optional early education spaces, partnering with the public education system. I'm not entirely sure what they have in mind here, since their website does not go into details. Does it mean more nursery/preschool spaces? Partnering with the public school system for early education curriculum development? I'm all for early years education that begins before kindergarten, especially play-based learning, so this sounds promising.
It seems to me that the Liberals would like to formally combine early years education and childcare. They do mention that the early childhood education spaces they would create are optional. So, if you are not comfortable with the idea pre-school for your child, you don't have to participate. There are private preschool options currently available to parents who would like more education mixed in with childcare. Tiny tots programs and Montessori schools come to mind, along with other nursery school programs.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, our first son thrived in a regular daycare setting, seeming to prefer the social aspect of the experience. Playing and making friends were a lot of fun. Our second son had a different temperament and preferred a pre-school setting. We considered sending him to a Montessori school -- which would have been terrific for him intellectually -- but ultimately decided on afternoon tiny tots and nursery school, along with a sitter. We used a number of childcare and preschool options to fit our work schedules and the needs of our children. The choice and flexibility was great and allowed us to pick the best situation for each of our children. I feel that preschool and daycare were instrumental in preparing our children for kindergarten.
More childcare spaces sooner with an increased emphasis on early education -- that's my read on the Liberal childcare plan. What are your thoughts? Does it seem different enough from the plans of the NDP and PC parties to sway your vote?
Next time I'll check in with the Green Party.