Smart Start Joins PEI

Smart Start PEI joins new Preschool Excellence Initiative

Smart Start, the integrated service model demonstrating best practices in early childhood service delivery, is becoming part of the PEI government’s new Preschool Excellence Initiative.

Four Smart Start programs have been selected to become Early Years Centres in phase one of implementation. Early Years Centres are the core of the new preschool initiative. They follow a common curriculum, have mandated parent committees and are operated by non-profit organizations. Staff salaries and parent fees reflect a province-wide grid.

Chosen as Early Years Centres are the Smart Start sites at St Jean and Prince St schools in Charlottetown, the Early Learning Centre in Stratford and the Early Learning Centre in Cornwall. Smart Start’s Infant Devopment Centre on Brighten Road in Charlottetown is under consideration for round two while capacity issues are addressed.  

Prince Edward Island is Canada’s new leader in early learning and child care. To support the Preschool Excellence Initiative the province’s early years budget was increased by 63%. Half-day kindergarten, which had been delivered by child care centres, will be offered by schools starting this fall. Kindergarten will become a full-school day program staffed by early childhood educators who are required to complete a B.Ed. credential.

All early childhood services have been moved under the Ministry of Education and Early Childhood Development. The new, more publicly managed model of programs for children aged 0-4 includes

  • Improved training and certification for all early childhood personnel
  • Public funding for a province-wide salary grid for Early Years Centres
  • Expanded infant child care in family child care homes with trained, certified providers supported by Family Resource Centres
  • Funding for private operators who wish to retire their licenses, as well as phasing out direct funding for private centres over the next five years;
  • A community governance structure to provide local management through the development of Early Years Advisory Committees, based on "families of schools" these will include members from the education, health, early childhood and other key sectors
  • A play-based early years curriculum covering birth to school’.

For more about PEI, Preschool Excellence Initiative visit

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