March 13, 2009
SAINT JOHN (CNB) - Four new early childhood development centres - in Saint John, Moncton, Robertville and Bath - are being established to provide integrated services to preschool children and their families, Social Development Minister Mary Schryer announced today.
The centres will be operated by non-profit boards of directors with support from the provincial government. They will serve as neighbourhood hubs within local schools where parents and their children will acquire a diverse range of programs.
"The government is committed to strengthening the capacity of local communities to help children build the lifelong foundations of learning and success in life," Schryer said. "This is an example of government working in partnership with community-based organizations to deliver integrated and high-quality early childhood services to parents and children."
The centres will open this fall and will be based in St. John the Baptist-King Edward School (Saint John); École Élémentaire La Croisée de Robertville (Robertville); École Sainte-Bernadette (Moncton); and Bath Middle School (Bath).
Each centre will have a team of staff delivering programming to parents and children. Core programming at each site will include full- and part-time child care as well as parent and child drop-in programs and playgroups. Immunization clinics, healthy lifestyle programs, toy and resource lending libraries and 3.5 Year Old Clinics may also be offered based on local needs.
"There is compelling research that shows integrated child development programs improve outcomes for children by providing a strong foundation for learning, behaviour and health that continues through the school years and into adulthood," the minister said.
The sites were selected as part of a call for proposals for the piloting of early childhood development centres in rural and urban and anglophone and francophone communities during the next three years.
Social Development is investing $100,000 in annual funding for each of the centres for the duration of the pilot.
The departments of Education, Health and Wellness Culture and Sport will also be involved in the evaluation of the sites, and they will collaborate with the non-profit boards of directors on programming, based on local needs.
Establishing the centres is part of the provincial government's commitment to improve supports for families and young children within local communities as part of Be Ready for Success: A 10 year early childhood strategy for New Brunswick.
Social Development has increased childcare subsidizes for low-income parents; increased wage enhancements for regulated child-care staff; provided new funding for family resource centres; and launched a new early learning and child-care curriculum as part of initiatives outlined in the Early Childhood Strategy Action Plan, 2008-2009.
Copies of the 10-year strategy and action plan are available at www.gnb.ca/0017/ELCC/strategy-e.asp or may be obtained by calling 506-453-2950.
MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Hagerman, communications, Social Development, 506-444-2416.