Letters to the editor for the week of October 18th, 2012 

Invest in early childhood education

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Re Cathryn Atkinson's "Early childhood education squeezed too tightly," Pique Oct.4, 2012: For all the money our municipal and provincial governments spend on community programs across the Sea to Sky corridor, why are we choosing to neglect early childhood education programs for our youngest citizens?

Why are we failing to invest in essential learning environments when the "vulnerability rate" of Sea to Sky children is higher than the provincial average? Why is the provincial government not stepping up to the plate and making our youngest generation its highest priority?

There is no question that high-quality early childhood education is instrumental in children's social and intellectual development. It can have a profound influence on resistance to health problems as an adult, and promises overall increased well being as children grow up.

Exposure to early childhood education programs not only influence cognitive development in early years, but also provide foundational skills for life-long learning. High quality early childhood education positively impacts children of all income levels, but has a greater impact on children from lower income families — precisely the ones who make use of Sea to Sky Community Services' early childhood education programs.

Full time childcare is absurdly expensive — this we all know. Atkinson's feature article from early October on diminishing budgets for SSCS' early childhood education programs emphasizes that these public programs are the only reasonably affordable ones available to Sea to Sky parents, yet funding is being cut and fewer children will be reached.

Look at the census data — more than half of the population in the Sea to Sky corridor is between the ages of 20 and 44, with a growing number of young families. By reducing funding, we are effectively punishing these young families who live and work in Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton and who support our flourishing resort economy.

Is it really fair to make those who form the foundation of our towns' success be placed on absurdly long wait lists for childcare that will only get longer as governments and charities make the incorrect judgment that our towns do not need these services?

It's time to support young working families who need affordable early childhood care not only so parents can participate in the workforce, but also so our youngest generation is nurtured. In a region where we claim to value community so much, why is there such a lack of public funding to take responsibility for our children, who will be shaping the future of Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton in the decades to come?

If we want to use government funding wisely, let's invest in our children, for with readily available, quality early childhood education, this generation will be granted the potential to grow up with better physical, social, and emotional health. I commend the Pique for running the story of SCSS budget cuts as a feature issue and not letting important social issues be brushed aside. Let's hope the decision makers are listening.

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