Community Indicators of Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada
In Canada early childhood education and care (ECEC) is increasingly recognized as a foundation to lifelong learning, a key to reducing child and family poverty and a support to parents balancing work and family life. On March 13, 2003 the Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Ministers of social services (excluding Quebec) reached agreement on a framework for improving access to affordable, quality, provincially and territorially regulated early learning and child care programs. The Ministers acknowledged the importance of accountability and committed to clear public reporting agreeing to provide annual reports that will include: "Descriptive and expenditure information on all early learning and child care programs and services; Indicators of availability……; Indicators of affordability....; and Indicators of quality…."1 In our uneasy, diverse federation this commitment may face some hurdles as the Ministers acknowledged by also agreeing to "strive … to improve the quality of reporting overtime."
This presentation will explore some of the issues related to the use of indicators to measure progress. Does the data exist to support the proposed indicators? Is it consistent? Does it need to be? What strategies will improve reporting overtime? How do other sectors monitor progress? Should the data which supports the indicators be collected by each government or collaboratively through an independent agency? As the Multilateral Framework states, the purpose of performance measurement is for all governments to be accountable to their publics, not to each other. How best can this accountability come about?
1Multilateral Framework on Early Learning and Child Care
Since 1982, Mab Oloman has worked in the social services sector, first as the Director of Child Care Services at UBC. For the past 12 years she has held various positions in Child Care Branch of the BC Ministry of Women’s Equality and more recently in the BC Ministry for Children and Families. Mab left government last year and is now working with Campaign 2000 as the Coordinator for the Community Indicators Project. Housed with Family Service Association of Toronto, Campaign 2000 is a non-partisan national network of more than 85 organizations committed to securing the implementation of the 1989 federal all-party resolution to "seek to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000." Mab’s professional interest and expertise focuses on public policy analysis and development as well as community development and capacity building.
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