The Pre-emptive Nature of Quality Early Child Education on Special Educational Needs

October 24, 2019 | University of Toronto

The Honourable Margaret McCain remarks to the Special Education Needs Symposium

David and Jane thank you so much for making this important evidence come alive in your presentation. And thanks to Stacey and the Atkinson Centre for hosting us.

The pre-emptive nature of quality early childhood education on special education is a story that needs be told and disseminated widely.

Early education as a remedy for the runaway costs of special education is a motivator for action. Schools do respond successfully to the unique challenges some children confront, but how kinder it is to the child and the family to identify problems and intervene before the hurt and frustration sets in.

The evidence David and his team have amassed will be featured in the upcoming Early Years Study 4 due for release 20 years after the first study. Its call to “Reverse the Real Brain Drain” is still timely. Although there have been gains, many of them precipitated by the work of those in the room, we cannot be satisfied when only one in three Canadian children have an opportunity to participate in preschool.

It’s also timely that we’re meeting today; the day set aside to show appreciation for the work of early childhood educators. Quality early education and the quality of the early child workforce form an unbreakable bond. Policy makers must understand this in their quest to expand child care spaces. More child care without addressing the status of the workforce will only produce poor outcomes for children and for society.

Given the outcome of this week’s election there may be an opening to influence early childhood policy that makes a difference. Early learning was an issue for all the progressive parties who will form the agenda in the next Parliament. Turning promises to effective action will take input, scrutiny and more input. Our Foundation is pleased to support the work of champions like David. We know you will all join him for this next big push to make quality early childhood education for all a reality.

Thank you.

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