National study finds Toronto has insufficient services for children|
| || ||
Toronto and 10 other Canadian cities do not have sufficient services for children up to 12 years of age, with the exception of kindergarten, which is universal. That conclusion is among the results that the City of Toronto released today of the first national study that examines the local provision of children’s services in Canadian cities.
The study, Learning from each other: Early learning and child care experiences in Canadian cities, examined child care, kindergarten, and out-of-school-hours care for six- to 12-year-olds. It discovered that child care is particularly problematic. Child care provision is inconsistent nationally within cities. Communities with better resources have a better ability to take advantage of available funding.
“By participating in this study, the City of Toronto continues to demonstrate its commitment to working with other orders of government and partners to ensure that the early learning and child care needs of families in Toronto and beyond are supported,” said Mayor David Miller. “The study makes it clear that cities cannot improve children’s services on their own and with nothing more than property taxes to rely on.”
“Stable, adequate levels of funding are critical if services for Toronto’s children are to expand and improve,” said Councillor Janet Davis, Ward 31 Beaches-East York, Children’s Lead. “The sound intellectual and social development of Toronto’s children depends on better services and the return of promised federal funding for early learning and child care.”
About 6,000 children, most of whom live in low or moderate income families in Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods, will not have a high quality child care space in September 2008 unless the federal child care plan is reinstated.
“In Toronto, despite planning, providing and partially funding more than 50,000 regulated, monitored child care spaces, the City has child care services for only 13.6 per cent of Toronto’s 380,000 children,” said Brenda Patterson, General Manager, Children’s Services.
The most successful local initiatives, found the study, share common features: they are created for all children and are not targeted to a specific population; allow for local flexibility and local accountability; and have an ongoing commitment from all partners and the support of a broadly based organization in the community.
The study found that hubs, organized around non-profit child care centres and responsible to elected boards composed of users and community representatives, can respond to community needs. In a number of cities including Toronto, local schools are a popular site for existing or proposed integrated children’s service hubs. Cities hold the key to recreation programs that play an important role in providing out-of-school-hours care.
The City of Toronto took the lead in organizing the study and participated with Canadian cities, including St. John’s, Halifax, Montreal, Sherbrooke, Toronto, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver and Whitehorse. Rianne Mahon and Jane Jenson conducted the study, which was funded by Social Development Canada, the City of Toronto and the Vancouver Joint Council on Child Care.
Rianne Mahon is Director of the Institute of Political Economy and a member of the School of Public Policy and Administration and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University in Ottawa. Over the past decade she has focused on the politics of child care, producing numerous articles and book chapters.
Jane Jenson is Professor of Political Science and the Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Governance at the Université de Montréal. Between June 1999 and 2004, she was the Director of the Family Network of Canadian Policy Research Networks, Inc., a policy think tank in Ottawa.
The study Learning from each other: Early learning and child care experiences in Canadian cities is posted on the City of Toronto’s website at http://www.toronto.ca/children.
(City of Toronto)
Councillor Janet Davis
Ward 31 Beaches-East York
Policy Development Officer
City of Toronto
City of St. John’s
City of Halifax
City of Sudbury
City of Winnipeg
Child Care Coalition of Manitoba
City of Saskatoon
City of Calgary
Carole Ann Young
City of Vancouver
City of Vancouver
City of Whitehorse
Government of the Yukon
National Association of Friendship Centres
613-563-4844 ext. 323