A “lottery” for places in the 4-year kindergarten

In some schools, places in the 4-year kindergarten are awarded by drawing lots and not according to the needs of the children, a real “lottery” denounced by parents and experts.

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Annabelle Boivin has a four-year-old boy who has never been to childcare. She has enrolled in 4-year kindergarten for next year, at the same school as her older sister.

She has attached a referral from her GP who recommends that she attend school to promote her social and emotional development.

However, her boy was not selected in the draw. At the Mille-Îles school service center in the Laurentians, children are chosen by freelancers when demand exceeds the number of places available in the 4-year kindergarten.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are given priority, as is the case for Mrs.me Boivin, but other criteria are not taken into account.

“How come the needs of children are not taken into account? When we refer to the mission of the 4-year kindergarten, it seems to me that we get lost”, drops this mother who is struggling to explain this “lottery”.

In recent years, the Legault government has repeatedly justified the commitment of the 4-year kindergarten by stating that there was an “urgency” to reach children who do not have access to childcare.

After challenging this decision, Mr.me However, Boivin has recently learned that his son will finally have a place in kindergarten next year for 4 years, after a withdrawal.

However, the rules haven’t changed, regretting this mother of three-year-old twins, who fears reliving the same scenario next year, if chance doesn’t work out.

At the school service center in Mille-Îles, spokeswoman Mélanie Poirier was pleased to say that the admission policy “has been the subject of consultation with all boards and with the parents’ committee.

The number of groups is limited by the lack of premises as the clientele grows, she adds.

Not an isolated case

This is not an isolated case, however, as other school service centres, such as Trois-Lacs, also draw lots among students living in the area served by the school.

Marie-Claude Bastide has a young boy who will not be able to attend the same school as his three siblings next year, even though a 4-year kindergarten is offered there, as siblings are not given priority in the draw.

However, several other service centers have different admission policies for 4-year kindergartens.

In many schools, children with a referral from a professional are given priority, as are those who have not been to childcare. In some places, siblings are also taken into account.

A lottery will then take place among the other children, we can read on the website of various school service centers whether there are still places available.

Draw: a lazy and unfair solution, according to an expert

Allocating places in the 4-year-old kindergarten according to a drawing of lots without taking into account the needs of the children is a solution “of convenience and laziness”, which is “really unfair”, according to an expert.

Jean Bernatchez is professor of educational administration at the Université du Québec à Rimouski. Drawings based solely on where the child lives have no place, he argues.

“It’s not fair to go haphazardly. There are young people who have much greater needs, who do not have access to educational services in a nursery, and to meet their needs, 4-year kindergartens were established,” he recalls.

However, it is “not very complicated” to conduct a needs assessment of children, as it is a process that does not require a lot of resources, he adds. In addition, several service centers have chosen to keep some other priority criteria.

Christa Japel, a professor at UQAM who specializes in child development, is also concerned about this type of practice. “We don’t prioritize children who need socialization and that worries me a lot,” she said.

Drawing lots can be “equal” without necessarily being “equitable”, confirms Monique Brodeur, who was a member of the advisory committee for the implementation of full-time 4-year kindergartens.

According to the rules of the Ministry of Education, a school service center is allowed to “establish additional registration criteria when the number of registration requests exceeds the supply”, we can read on the Internet.

There is a strong demand for 4-year kindergartens in several schools. For example, a school in the Quebec region received three times more applications than available places, it reported Log

The Legault government’s goal is to create 2,600 4-year-old kindergarten classes by 2025-2026. At the beginning of the school year, approximately 1,600 classes should be offered across the province.

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