Saskatchewan’s Early Learning Intensive Support (ELIS) pilot program is expanding to North Battleford for children with intensive needs. Last week Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant announced the program expansion from inaugural locations in Regina and Saskatoon to five more communities including North Battleford and Moose Jaw.
ELIS will allow school divisions to provide additional support for children with intensive needs attending Prekindergarten programs. This may include children with visual impairments, who are deaf or hard of hearing, have autism spectrum disorder or complex medical needs. This includes hiring additional educational assistants and bringing in specialized resources.
Director of Early Learning and Evaluation Lisa Fleming believes helping children with academic needs as soon as possible will help with their growth and development as they get older.
“Families recognize the importance of creating opportunities for their children to have strong connections to the school community, and to be able to access the services that the school division is able to support them with.”
The added support will provide 50 more Saskatchewan children access to the help they require, according to Minister Wyant. Fleming says the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement has provided more than $2 million in funding for the expansion. She says the province looked into expanding after the successful year in the inaugural locations.
“We begin the pilot a year ago in Saskatoon and Regina, and we created spaces there, and we saw the tremendous work that was happening for children and their families, and for the classroom, and the students, and the teachers involved in the project.”
The Government of Saskatchewan says There are currently 109 families enrolled in existing ELIS pilot programs in Saskatchewan. Once this expansion is completed, it will bring the number of available spots for preschoolers with intensive needs to 170. Parents looking to enrol their children into the ELIS program can contact their school division in order to apply and see if their children qualify for the project.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with our families and our communities to enhance the lives of children, and we know that it will have a long term impact on learning for those children.”