Ten N.S. pre-primary sites to offer before- and after-school programs
New program means working parents won't have to find child care before or after school
The Nova Scotia government is launching a new pilot program designed to address one of the biggest criticisms of its pre-primary program — that working parents find it hard because it only operates during school hours.
Pre-primary is a free program for four-year-olds intended to help prepare them for the school system. But the hours it runs has meant that in many cases parents are left to find child care before or after school.
"We want to make sure that we are tackling all the barriers to accessing this program," Education Minister Zach Churchill told reporters Thursday.
There are over 3,000 children enrolled in pre-primary programs across the province. Churchill said he expects about 230 will participate in the after-school pilot program. It will be focused on physical activity and outdoor play for children, the province said.
Families will be required to pay about $15 a day for the recreation program, which is separate from the free provincial pre-primary program. But a family with a combined income of under $70,000 can have up to 100 per cent of the costs subsidized by the province.
Genevieve Hart is the lead pre-primary teacher at William King Elementary School in Herring Cove. That school is one of the 10 chosen sites for the pilot.
"I think it's excellent, our children love to run around and love to show their energy and it's not always possible within a classroom so we are always outside when possible or in the gymnasium," Hart said.
Hart's 13 students spend more than one hour a day outside for play.
The province will work with other established child care or municipal and non-profit recreation providers to deliver the pilot program.
"I think it's going to be a wonderful addition to daily activity for our four-year-olds and maybe that's where parents will become very involved with more activity with their children," said Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine.
The 10 pilot locations are:
- Coldbrook and District School, Coldbrook
- Harbourside Elementary School, Sydney
- Oxford Regional Education Centre, Oxford
- Conseil scolaire acadien provincial Bedford Highway pre-primary site, Bedford
- William King Elementary School, Herring Cove
- Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy, Guysborough
- East Antigonish Education Centre/Academy, Monastery
- West Northfield Elementary School, West Northfield
- Yarmouth Central School, Yarmouth
- Weymouth Consolidated School, Weymouth
"The criteria we used to select the sites for the pilot was based on regional representation, we wanted to have this pilot available across the province in each of our school regions," Churchill said.
"We also needed to ensure there was community capacity, so enough providers with staff to provide these program onsite."
Three of the pilot sites will be at pre-primary locations where before- and after-school program already exist for pre-primary children.
The pilot will run from January until June.