Parents are being asked to share their opinion by filling out a survey on a proposed nursery school program in Emo.
Jeannette Cawston, local co-ordinator of the “Best Start” program, said the surveys are meant to find out how many people would be interested in using the nursery school.
“The township has asked us to do this survey in order to gauge the need, then they will make a decision whether or not to go ahead with it,” Cawston explained.
The surveys are available at places frequented by parents of young children, such as the Ontario Early Years Centre in Emo and the Northwestern Health Unit office there.
The survey asks parents four questions:
•If the community of Emo had a nursery school program, would you enroll your child?
•Would you require some subsidized assistance to cover the nursery school fee?
•In typical nursery school programs, the fee is lower if the parent/parents are able to participate in a parent co-op once per month. Would this appeal to you?
•Could we contact you in the future regarding a nursery school program?
Cawston stressed it is important for parents to understand that nursery school is much more than just day care.
“Nursery school provides an opportunity for children to develop and learn school readiness skills,” she noted.
Kim Gardiman, Children Services manager for the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board, also said nursery school has a very specific focus.
“Nursery school is a two-hour program that focuses on socialization and provides a stimulating environment. It is not day care,” she agreed.
Because the program is only two hours a few times a week, it is not meant to act as full-time child care.
The proposed program would operate out of the Ontario Early Years Centre. Currently, proponents are looking at running it on the mornings when the centre is closed (Monday and Wednesday).
OEYC co-ordinator Laurel Armstrong said she is encouraging all parents to take part in the survey.
“Every time a parent comes [into the OEYC], I ask them to fill it out,” she remarked. “I want as many [parents] as possible to fill it out, all parents, so that it will show if there is a need and if people will use it.”
Armstrong noted she wants all parents to participate in order to justify spending the money on this program.
Gardiman said she is expecting a positive response to the survey because parents in Emo have requested a program like this in the past.
For her part, Armstrong said she’s supportive of a nursery school program in Emo.
“With anything, some people think it is a great idea and others say that they would not use it,” she conceded. “I think that if we had one, people would use it.”
She also said she feels the nursery school program would complement programs already running at the Ontario Early Years Centre.
“OEYC focuses on parent and child interaction. Nursery school will help the kids be more independent,” Armstrong explained. “Nursery school will reinforce routines already established and carry that on.”
The program would be 100 percent funded through the “Best Start” program and it would be eligible for annualized funding. There also would be opportunities for a resource teacher to be available to help children with special needs.
Other programs in the district cost about $50 a month for one session a week. There currently are three other licensed nursery schools in Rainy River District: in Fort Frances, Rainy River, and Atikokan.
Parents who have not already filled out a survey are encouraged to do so by this Friday (June 16). Results will be collected next week and then presented to Emo council at its meeting next month.
A final decision on the program will be made by council.
(Fort Frances Times)