If we want to change our province’s future, our children need to have a strong start. Providing a solid foundation to help prepare children for success is an economic investment that, over time, will make our province better for all.

Together, we need to make sure every child is ready upon entering Primary. Early childhood education and development have exceptionally high returns to society as a whole. The early years of a child’s life are critical determinants of life-long physical, emotional, social, cognitive and language development. Pre-school programming also enables more parents to access employment opportunities and, over the long term, improves youth participation in the workforce.

Children who experience enriched early years programming are less likely to need health, special education, social and child welfare services. They’re also less likely to encounter the criminal justice system.

There is no doubt that strong early years programming strengthens our social fabric. When resources and support are available to all children at an affordable cost for families, we create better opportunities for all children to succeed while building a more vibrant province. Early years education is particularly beneficial for children from disadvantaged backgrounds because it can help close the achievement gap that may occur in the critical pre-school years.

We recommend the provincial government create an early years plan, in partnership with the federal government, to prioritize programs focused in three areas:

  1. Universal early years education and developmental program
  2. Community-led initiatives for early years
  3. Support from cradle to career

Our Recommendations

Universal Early Years Education and Developmental Programs

Every infant, child, and family should be supported and welcomed in our communities. Nova Scotia should offer universal access to early years education and development programs in which children engage in play- and inquiry-based learning. We also need to be thoughtful about where additional support is needed for families with greater stress and vulnerability.

Community-Led Initiatives for Early Years

We need to work together to ensure the 8,500 Nova Scotians born each year are actively welcomed into our communities in a positive way. The coalition recommends that communities, businesses, not for profits and private funders, with support from government, create community-based programs to welcome our youngest children. In welcoming babies to our communities, we are also enhancing inclusion and equality for all children and assisting integration of families and social cohesion within neighbourhoods.

Support from Cradle to Career

Children must be supported from the time they’re born until they successfully enter the workforce. For at-risk children, the benefits provided by pre-school programming may be lost if support is not continued through the public school system. High-quality programming and support for at-risk children must be sustained in the P–12 school system. In addition, the provincial government should ensure recommendations in the Nunn Commission report are being followed, including the collaboration among all departments providing services to at-risk children.