Most jurisdictions have reduced what the OECD identified as the adverse effects of fragmented governance by merging their early education, child care and family support services under a single ministry. During the OECD’s 2004 Canada review, no jurisdiction had merged departments; today, eight out of 13 have done so. The Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and most recently, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, now include policy and oversight for child care and related early years services within their education departments.It is also important to look closely at what takes place within departments that house both education and early years services. Most have developed policy frameworks guided by the science of early development and a holistic view of childhood. Policies also recognize the need to reduce program transitions throughout children’s early years and into kindergarten and school. Gaps remain however, with programs residing in the same ministry but with different legislative mandates, administrations, oversight and educator requirements, contributing to the separation of school-operated kindergarten and prekindergarten from child care and family support programs. At the local level, infrastructure is weak with poor oversight and support for service providers, lax or absent planning, and operators competing for the same families in some neighbourhoods while other communities have no options.
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