Today, Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant announced the province’s Early Learning Intensive Support (ELIS) pilot program will be expanding from the two original locations of Regina and Saskatoon to five additional communities. ELIS programs will soon be established in Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Swift Current and Yorkton.
“This expansion will provide 50 more Saskatchewan children with intensive needs access to professional supports,” Wyant said. “It has been less than a year since our initial programs began operating, we have now allocated 170 spaces for Prekindergarten children with intensive needs.”
More than $2 million in funding is being provided for this program through the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. It will allow school divisions to provide additional supports for children with intensive needs attending Prekindergarten programs. This includes hiring additional educational assistants and bringing in specialized resources.
“I am happy to see that this pilot program is expanding to new communities in Saskatchewan,” said Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Ralph Goodale. “Today’s announcement will allow more children with intensive needs in Saskatchewan to access support and resources that will help them have a good start in life so that they can succeed.”
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. Prince Albert is set to receive 28 of the new spots.
“We are excited to see the Early Learning Intensive Supports pilot expand to include the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division,” Saskatchewan Rivers School Division Superintendent Tom Michaud said. “Our current practices in inclusive education will be enhanced with the additional resources that ELIS will allow us to access in order to provide high-quality educational programming to more Prekindergarten students requiring intensive supports.”