The reach of early childhood education (ECE) is broad, including the education, care and well-being of young children. Early education is also central to family policy and is associated with economic development and productivity. It is linked to a range of equity issues, including women’s employment, anti-poverty strategies, the promotion of social cohesion and the settlement of new Canadians.
Reflecting the main recommendation of the Early Years Study 3 — that all children from age 2 through to elementary school have access to high quality, early childhood education—the Early Childhood Education Report 2014 focuses on indicators promoting this goal. It is the second status update on the policy frameworks that the evidence indicates supports quality and access in early education services.
The report defines ECE as programs for young children based on an explicit curriculum delivered by qualified staff and designed to support children’s development and learning. Settings may include childcare centres, nursery schools, preschools, pre or junior kindergarten, and kindergarten. Attendance is regular and children may participate on their own or with a parent or caregiver. When organized so it also supports parents’ labour force participation, ECE can also be a very cost-effective policy leaver; returning in financial terms more than it costs.
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