Considerations raised about Quebec’s plan to overtake daycare admission system

Plans for an overhaul to Quebec’s childcare admissions system are drawing concern from some overstaffing shortages and daycare agency.

There are changes coming to public daycare admissions for children with special needs, and plenty of opinions on just how best to do that.

In 2020, Quebec’s auditor general called on the government to ensure children with special needs have equal access to daycare since those kids showed a lower placement rate than others.

As of fall 2019, 83 percent of neurotypical children got a spot in daycare through the provincial placement system, notably higher than the 73 percent of kids with special needs, such as autism, who got a spot.

The ruling Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) is now considering prioritizing them as part of a new centralized admission list, which Quebec’s Minister of Families, Suzanne Roy, said will make for a big improvement.

“I think that in any case, it will improve the system,” Roy said Tuesday.

However, that’s stoking fears that daycares might not be ready to accept more children with special needs.

Hallie Moyse, who sits on the board of directors at the Quebec Association for Preschool Professional Development, said she’s concerned about how a centralized list could affect her centre.

“It sounds as if we will lose the opportunity to follow our own admissions policies and be at the mercy of the ministry,” said Moyse, the vice-president of the CPE Shalom.

Priority for special needs kids should come with more funding for the educators who work with them, opposition parties say.

“I totally agree with the objective to give priority to kids from socio-economic backgrounds that are difficult, or with special needs, but we need to allow the resources,” said PQ MNA Joël Arseneau.

In a statement, the families ministry told CTV News that work is underway to find the best way to prioritize children in the daycare system.

“The possibility of scheduling each provider’s waiting list according to a point system is being explored with the national child care associations,” the statement read.

“The goal is to find the best way to ensure that all children have equitable access to child care, including those living in low socioeconomic circumstances and those with special needs, in order to address some of the inequities in access identified in the QAG report. Additional consultations will be held with parent groups in the coming weeks.”

The new system is expected to be up and running by the end of 2024.

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