Families and more pre-kindergarten children will soon have their early learning opportunities enhanced as the Just B4 early childhood education program expands from one to six districts this school year.
“The first Just B4 pilot program at Columbia Elementary has been a great success. I’m so pleased that our government continues to prioritize the needs of our youngest learners and their families as we expand this program to another five school districts,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “This program provides a positive and nurturing early learning experience while supporting children as they prepare to learn, grow and transition to kindergarten.”
The Province is investing $125,000 to expand the Just B4 early childhood education program, which is specifically designed to support children the year before they enter kindergarten. Just B4 is a half-day licensed pre-school child care program for three- to four-year-olds.
“Parents know public schools are available and reliable, no matter where they live, and moving the responsibility for child care to the Ministry of Education will help to bring the same certainty for parents who need child care,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “The Just B4 program expansion is one example of how integrating child care into the education system makes life easier for parents, while also helping young children get familiar with their school so they can make a successful transition into kindergarten.”
The expansion of the program will continue to foster connections between the education and child care sectors. This supports government’s 10-year ChildCareBC plan to build a future where child care is a core service available to families in every part of the province when they need it, and at a price they can afford.
Just B4 operates in conjunction with existing StrongStart BC (SSBC) program by using available SSBC spaces in schools. This partnership maximizes the use of SSBC staff, space and resources within schools. In most cases, early childhood educators from SSBC also teach in Just B4. SSBC programs are taught in the mornings. The same staff teach Just B4 in the afternoons.
Just B4 started in School District 67 (Okanagan Skaha) during the 2020-21 school year and will expand to five districts in the 2021-22 school years. New districts receiving the program include: SD 34 Abbotsford (Dormick Park Elementary); SD 46 Sunshine Coast (Halfmoon Bay Elementary); SD 38 Richmond; SD 70 Pacific Rim; and SD 73 Kamloops-Thompson (Arthur Hatton Elementary). Schools for the Richmond and Pacific Rim school districts are to be determined, as they are in the process of obtaining licences. This expansion is expected to increase from 10 to more than 70 spaces. Programs will be open as many as five days per week during the school year.
Marlene Sheppard, early childhood educator/pre-school teacher, Arthur Hatton Elementary, School District 73 (Kamloops-Thompson) –
“Making sure that schools and four-year-olds are ready for kindergarten is so important. There is no better way to help them be ready than to experience school first-hand from the gym to library – sharing, learning and growing together. This is exactly what Just B4 preschool does! The growth I’ve seen in these four-year-olds over the four weeks has been amazing. During these uncertain times, JUST B4 has given every child enrolled the courage to know school is safe and fun. I can confidently say these children are more prepared for kindergarten.”
Mike Johnson, principal, Arthur Hatton Elementary, School District 73 (Kamloops-Thompson) –
“It has been wonderful having this program. Seeing the students progress from StrongStart BC to pre-school, and then into kindergarten gives them such a head start as they begin their school career.”
Carly, parent, School District 67 (Okanagan-Skaha) –
“We were so excited to have a program open in the school our son would be attending for kindergarten. During our time in the Just B4 program, we have seen so much attention, love and care given to our son by the spectacular teachers. The recognition by staff of the specific needs of our child, plus being given tools to use in our daily lives, are more than we ever could have asked for. We have loved getting to meet other families and children that our child will be heading into kindergarten with. It has been a fantastic introduction to our school community.”
Chrissi Travers, early childhood educator, School District 67 (Okanagan-Skaha) –
“As an early childhood educator, the addition of Just B4 in School District 67 has been such a wonderful addition for the community and a welcomed career opportunity for me. As an extension of my StrongStart BC role, it was a natural fit and I am enjoying every day with my four-year-old kiddos.”
- Just B4 is a licensed preschool program under the child care licensing regulation that uses public school spaces.
- The First Peoples Principles of Learning and the Early Learning Framework are the foundational documents used as the curriculum for the program, and districts are responsible for associated quality expectations within these frameworks.
- Currently, 329 StrongStart BC programs are offered in B.C. These programs are intended for attendance by children until age five, along with their parent or caregiver.
First Peoples Principles of Learning: http://www.fnesc.ca/first-peoples-principles-of-learning/
Early Learning Framework: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework