Early Learning Intensive Support Pilot prime example of government partnership

December 11, 2018

Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant was recently at St. Peter School in Regina to visit students who are now attending the Early Learning Intensive Support Pilot. Launched in the spring of 2018, with funding from the Government of Canada, the pilot provides funding for school divisions to create new spaces in existing prekindergarten programs for children with intensive needs.

“We are very excited to see more of our youngest students getting the extra supports they need, which includes hiring additional educational assistants,” Wyant said in a news release issued from the Ministry of Education. “We are grateful for the Government of Canada’s commitment to supporting inclusive early learning environments for Saskatchewan children.”

Nearly 90 preschool-aged children with intensive needs are now attending prekindergarten programs at 16 schools in Regina and 30 schools in Saskatoon through the pilot.

“The program, while just in its infancy, has meant a lot to our family,” Allyson Minaker, parent of a child attending the program said. “It gives our son, who has autism, a place to learn and grow. He is in a school where he can gain independence while having the support of a wonderful instructional assistant (IA). There will be some growing pains for all involved, but the teacher has been open and helpful, the IA is very experienced, and the school as well as the educational assistant have been very supportive thus far.

“We look forward to watching our son grow and learn in his own special way. The program has given us back some hope. We know that being one of the first families through it, we are in a position to make change and help the program adapt for the betterment of all prekindergarten students, especially ones with intensive needs.”

With funding through the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, the Early Learning Intensive Support Pilot can accommodate up to 120 students. The funding allows school divisions to provide additional supports, which may include hiring educational assistants or other resources.

“This new pilot creates greater opportunities for children with intensive needs and their families,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. “This announcement supports more inclusive early learning and child care that will allow more children to get the best possible start in life.”

“We know how important it is for children to have a good start in life so that they can succeed,” said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “Early learning opportunities play a vital role in the development of a child, and this new pilot will help more children with intensive needs in Regina and Saskatoon reach their full potential.”

Regina Public, Greater Saskatoon Catholic and Saskatoon Public school divisions are currently accepting applications for three- and four-year-olds who require intensive supports. Regina Catholic Schools spaces are filled for the current year and the division will begin accepting applications for spaces for the 2019-20 school year later next spring. To apply, please go to the applicable school division website.

To find out more about early learning programming provided through the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, visit www.saskatchewan.ca.