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March 22, 2001
(Health and Community Services)


Early Childhood Development a priority for government

Health and Community Services Minister Julie Bettney said government will spend $5.2 million in 2001-2002 on programs and services to ensure young children get a good start in life.

"Healthy growth and development, especially in the very early years, is recognized as an important factor in living a long and productive life," said Minister Bettney. "This year,

a focus on Early Childhood Development (ECD) is a key component of the departmentís strategy for the future direction of health and community services. This commitment supports and advances the objectives of the Strategic Social Plan."

The funding to be spent in 2001-2002 flows from the First Ministers Agreement on Early Childhood Development announced last fall. The agreement will see this province receive $36.6 million over the next five years to support this initiative. The two major objectives of the ECD agreement are:

  • the promotion of early childhood development so that, to their fullest potential, children will be physically and emotionally healthy, safe and secure, ready to learn and socially engaged and responsible; and,

  • help for children to reach their potential and help for families to support their children within strong communities.

"Following the announcement of this funding, my department began to consult with stakeholders and establish priorities for action," said Minister Bettney. "Over 60 people, representing a diverse range of stakeholders, came together last fall for a major provincial consultation into the most effective approach to the ECD initiative."

An interdepartmental reference group, which includes representation from Health and Community Services, Human Resources and Employment, Education and Justice, is now developing new and enhanced programs in such areas as prenatal and postnatal care, parenting and community supports, and early childhood learning and care.

"We are making the investments today to have a heathy society for tomorrow," said Minister Bettney.

Media contact: Carmel Parsons, Communications, (709) 729-1377.

2001 03 22           4:15 p.m.

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