Province to Consult Nova Scotians on Early Years

Premier's Office

May 25, 2012 11:53 AM

NOTE: A social-media version of this release, with additional text quotes is available at http://novascotia.ca/news/smr/2012-05-25-Earlyl-Years/. Hi-res, downloadable photos, audio and video clips will be added later today, May 25.

The province is consulting Nova Scotians on a plan to ensure young children are getting the support they need to develop to their full potential.

Premier Darrell Dexter released today, May 25, a discussion paper to guide consultation with interested groups and families. The premier also appointed a nine-member advisory council, co-chaired by Anne McGuire, CEO, IWK Health Centre, and Mary Lyon, professor emeritus, Mount Saint Vincent University.

"Nova Scotia is doing many things right, but there is room to improve how early years programs and services are delivered," said Premier Dexter. "This consultation is the first step toward an innovative and integrated approach to early childhood development that offers families quality, accessible and more affordable services."

The discussion paper, Giving Children the Best Start, and a survey are available online. Nova Scotians can share their views until June 22. Regional meetings are also scheduled with partner organizations and groups of parents and families.

The first six years are considered the most significant in a child's development. Early years programming helps children develop and learn and helps parents support that development.

According to the recent Early Years Study 3, Nova Scotia is lagging behind other provinces in providing a co-ordinated approach to deliver such programs.

"The early years, and especially early intervention and detection, are so crucial for a child's development," said Halifax parent Nicole LePage. "Knowing you can ask questions and get advice if you have concerns about your child's development can make a big difference -- it's the difference between a lifelong struggle and knowing your child has the tools they need to succeed in life. Knowing you're not alone is also pretty powerful for a parent."

Every year, the province invests about $100 million in early years programming through more than 200 programs and services, mostly co-ordinated through the departments of Education, Community Services, and Health and Wellness. Organizations at the community level also deliver programs and services.

Premier Dexter thanked the advisory council for its work.

"These people bring great passion for children and expertise in the early years to the table," said Premier Dexter. "I am confident their involvement will lead to an action plan that will make a significant difference in the lives of Nova Scotia children."

"What we do from before birth, up to school-age, is absolutely critical to the healthy development of a child," said advisory council co-chair Anne McGuire. "There are pockets of excellence in Nova Scotia's early years programs, and this work is the opportunity to bring all resources together for a collaborative, co-ordinated and inclusive program."

Joining the council co-chairs are: Darrell Samson, superintendent, Conseil scolaire acadien provincial; Dr. Andrew Lynk, pediatrician, Cape Breton; Elizabeth Munroe, assistant professor, Education, St. Francis Xavier University; Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, medical officer of health; Martha MacDonald, professor and chair of economics department, Saint Mary's University; Ted Muggah, former public school administrator; and Cyril Reid, former educator and current chair of Nova Scotia Council of Chairs for the Community Child Welfare Boards.

The province committed to consultation and developing an integrated approach to early childhood development programs in the Speech from the Throne.

A project office, with staff from the departments of Education, Community Services, and Health and Wellness, is leading the work. The Early Years project office expects to present its action plan to government this fall.

To read the discussion paper, complete the online survey, or learn more about the advisory council, visit www.novascotia.ca/earlyyears .


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     Premier Darrell Dexter announced today (May 25th) that the

province will consult interested groups and families on a plan

for early childhood development.

     The premier also appointed an advisory council, led by I-W-K

C-E-0 Anne McGuire and Mount Saint Vincent University's Mary

Lyon.

     The premier says consultation is the first step toward an

integrated approach to early childhood development that offers

families quality, accessible and affordable services, a

commitment made in the Speech from the Throne.

     An action plan will be presented to government this fall.

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Media Contact: Brooke Armstrong
              Premier's Office
              902-424-2402
              Cell: 902-499-8819
              E-mail: armstrbj@gov.ns.ca