Early Learning Network
StrongStart BC Programs - Questions and Answers
1 ) What are StrongStart BC Centres?
- StrongStart BC centres offer a free drop-in program for parent or caregivers and their children.
- Licensed Early Childhood Educators lead early learning activities, including stories, music and art, to help children grow linguistically, physically, socially, emotionally
- StrongStart BC centres are located in school facilities with available space, turning the challenge of declining enrolment into an opportunity.
2) What is the purpose of StrongStart BC?
- StrongStart BC Centres are primarily for parents and their children. These centres give home-based children the interaction and skills needed to be ready for school. The parents and caregivers who attend learn activities they can do with their children to support early learning at home.
- Strong Start BC Centres include specific goals for early learning and for parent involvement, which encourages changes in parenting abilities, in the home environment and in later home-school relationships. Adults who attend the program are expected to fully participate, with the goal to increase their knowledge of early learning strategies.
- Children who attend preschool or a childcare centre are in a licensed facility and receive quality early learning experiences. Child Care Resource and Referral programs across the province are mandated to support child care providers through information, outreach, resource library, networking and learning opportunities.
3) How many centres will there be and how much will it cost?
- The Province is investing $43 million to expand StrongStart BC, with more than 310 programs now operating across British Columbia. A list of up and running programs is available at: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/early_learning/pdfs/strong_start_contacts.pdf (PDF, 169KB)
4) Are StrongStart BC centres the same as preschools or childcare centres?
- StrongStart BC centres are not licensed childcare.
- One of the ways StrongStart BC centres are different from preschools and childcare is that they require the involvement of parents and caregivers.
- StrongStart BC centres will give those home-based children the interaction and skills they need, and the parents and caregivers will learn helpful activities to do with their children at home.
5) Do parents and caregivers have to pay to attend a StrongStart BC centre?
- There is no cost to parents or caregivers.
6) What exactly will parents/caregivers and their children do at the StrongStart BC centre?
- There will be organized activities such as story time, music, singing, art and puzzles, for example.
- Parents and caregivers will participate by engaging with their children in the activities.
7) What is the benefit to participating children, and to the parents/caregivers?
- Children will develop physically, linguistically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.
- Parents and caregivers will:
- gain knowledge of activities they can try at home to further support their child’s learning;
- learn about a range of guidance strategies that support social and emotional development;
- receive information on other services in the community;
- acquire knowledge of healthy snacks they can continue to feed their child at home and/or pack for that child when he or she starts school; and
- make valuable connections with other parents or caregivers
8) How do we know these centres are going to be high-quality, professional centres?
- Centres will be staffed by Licensed Early Childhood Educators.
- Centres must operate in accordance with Ministry of Education standards.
9) Do parents have to commit to a period of time and/or register?
- Centres will welcome all preschool-aged children, together with their parents or caregivers, on a drop-in basis.
10) When are StrongStart BC centres open?
- The hours of operation are up to the individual school site and school district.
- The centres must be open at least three-four hours a day, five days a week.
11) How were the locations of StrongStart BC centres selected?
- All school districts were invited to participate, and most are participating. StrongStart BC is a voluntary program.
- The Ministry of Education set some expectations and parameters for all participants, such as locating the StrongStart BC centre in school facilities with unused space.
- School districts submitted a proposal identifying a location that meets the unique needs of their community. School districts were encouraged to plan their centres in collaboration with their community stakeholders.
- The Ministry of Education considered the strengths of each proposal, and used a combination of criteria, including the Early Development Instrument (EDI) scores that help identify vulnerable children.
12) What is the relationship between StrongStart BC centres and the Early Learning Framework?
- The Early Learning Framework will guide the StrongStart BC programs.
- In-service staff training will be implemented over the next 2 years to all StrongStart BC staff.
- StrongStart BC staff are encouraged to use the Early Learning Framework in the meantime to guide their program and help parents to reflect on their child’s learning and development.