Page 8 - May 15, 2017
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PAGE 8 MONDAY MAY 15, 2017 MONDAY MARCH 13, 2017 PAGE 23
Changes to Provincial policy results in Preschool funding gap

by Mikaela Kuefler volunteers resulting in inconsistency between from year to year for the FCSS grant would not be
years, in terms of budget development, consistent but would match the existing
During a Yellowhead County Council meeting grant/funding applications, and reporting. There is demographics in each area. The formula will also
on May 9, FCSS Supervisor Wendy Robinson insecurity of funding and reliance on fundraising, be based on the expectation of parents
presented a proposal to provide an equitable and which hampers the ability for long term planning contributing approximately 50% of the cost with
consistent funding mechanism for County based and the continuity of services. minimum staffing qualifications.
preschools to support the quality of early Administration noticed that qualified staff Using the formula, funding for the preschools
childhood education and sustainability of rural recruitment varied between communities and for 2016-17 would have been $11,644 for Peers,
programs. programs and that programs do not have $9,792 for Carrot Creek, $3,840 for Lobstick, and
Previously, for western located preschools in consistent and equitable funding formulas. $7,776 for Evansburg, costing the County
Carrot Creek and Peers, support was available Programs advised that they were very satisfied $33,072.
from provincial grant funds. Eastern located with the staff they have in place. Currently, FCSS has an allocated $30,000 for
preschools in Lobstick and Evansburg were "Staffing is a huge issue. It's hard to attract part- preschool grants. The financial implications for
funded by Yellowhead County FCSS grants. time qualified staff," said Councilor Cherniawsky. adopting the proposed funding regime would
Due to recent direction from the province, "Staffing is a concern,” agreed FSCC Supervisor result in an increase in a budgeted expense of
provincial funding is no longer available for Robinson. “I've recommended that programs about $3,000 annually.
registration based preschool programs. consider sharing staff to allow qualified staff more "The cost of preschool is a barrier for a lot of
Administration believes that locally run non- hours.” families and the motion only increases funding by
profit preschools who employ trained staff are an Currently, funding is based on a projected deficit a couple of thousand dollars a year," said
integral part of supporting healthy rural families and does not account for variances in registration Cherniawsky.
and that the benefits of supporting County or service levels and does not recognize or "I fail to see how the recommendation supports
preschools are worth the continued, stable, and compensate for staff with higher qualifications. the issues facing preschools. Trying to recruit a
equitable support. The greatest cost for preschool programs are staff. good level of instruction is not addressed. I would
Having met with representatives of the four Other costs total 25% of program costs. Staffing like us to provide better qualified staff," said
preschool programs, administration and is also the least negotiable due to provincial Councilor Russell.
representatives identified challenges, licensing requirements. In a four to four vote, Council defeated the
commonalities, and priorities for preschool After reviewing budgets, service levels, and motion. FCSS cannot present another proposal on
programming. quality control mechanisms, Administration the same topic again for another six months.
Programs are operated independently from each provided an analysis of costs for the previous year Yellowhead provided a statement clarifying
other by volunteer, non-profit boards and are and noted that the use of provincial funds to funding for preschool programs within the
tailored based on parent and community demand. support the Peers and Carrot Creek preschool County. “Council voted against using County
The programming depends on the quality of staff, programs resulted in a heavily government funded funds to replace provincial funding to enhance
staff funding available, direction programming program at over 80% while the County supported preschool support in the County but will continue
and planning, and the skill the board has to Lobstick and Evansburg at 50%. to offer limited Preschool Grants to eligible
manage staff and budget. FCSS outlined that their formula, based on the preschool programs in 2017.”
The program has also noted some sustainability analysis of costs, provides flexibility, supports At the same council meeting County Council
difficulties such as the complication of accurate quality staffing, consistently encourages approved using the funds provided by the Alberta
financial forecasting by the fluctuating number of sustainability, board training support, and Government to provide Parent Link Centre
children each year, which impacts registration promotes organizational accountability and services through the hiring of a part-time Early
revenues. There is also the problem of the development. Childhood Coordinator and development of a
fluctuation and inexperience of new board The slight drawback would be that budgeting Parent Link Centre program for County residents.
(see story page 11)

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