CPE and daycare centers | Deficient educational services, fewer qualified educators

CPE and daycare centers | Deficient educational services, fewer qualified educators
CPE and daycare centers | Deficient educational services, fewer qualified educators

(Quebec) The Auditor General raises a red flag on the quality of educational services in daycare centers and daycares. On average, a third of installations fail their assessment. Furthermore, the decline in the ratio of qualified educators continues and has not been achieved in more than 8 out of 10 unsubsidized daycares in 2023.


Posted at 10:08 a.m.

This is a tough assessment from the Auditor General who assessed the quality of educational childcare services. Guylaine Leclerc published the last part of the Report of the Auditor General of Quebec to the National Assembly for the year 2023-2024.

A third of educational childcare services, in daycare centers and daycare centers, have failed the evaluation since its implementation in 2018 by the Ministry of Families. This is a cumulative rate for all facilities, excluding home daycare services. For subsidized and unsubsidized daycares in 2022-2023, the failure rate is even higher and reaches 60%.

The performance is far from the targets of the Legault government. In its 2019-2023 strategic plan, the ministry had the objective that the annual failure rate would increase to 18% during this period. “Instead, it grew significantly and exceeded the ministry’s estimate, particularly in daycares,” underlines the Auditor General’s report. In 2022-2023, the failure rate is 41%.

Below these thresholds, educational quality is considered low and must be carefully monitored, indicates Mme Leclerc in the document.

Failure rate of educational quality assessment and improvement measure

2022-2023

  • CPE: 21%
  • Subsidized daycare: 57%
  • Unsubsidized daycare: 59%
  • Failure rate for 2022-2023: 41%
  • Cumulative since 2018: 30%

Furthermore, the ministry “has not started to carry out the evaluation of the educational quality of recognized family daycare services nor planned when it will begin”, deplores Mme Leclerc.

Little follow-up from the ministry

This evaluation, which measures the educational quality of a facility, provides that when a daycare service fails, it must produce and implement an action plan. However, the Auditor General concluded after examination that the Department did not receive a third of the action plans that were supposed to be sent to it.

Furthermore, “a large part of those he received were of insufficient quality,” she writes.

However, this action plan constitutes “the tool by which managers” inform the Ministry of the actions they intend to implement to improve their performance.

Due to the pandemic, Quebec has suspended the general requirement to provide an action plan. However, from November 2020, the firm responsible for the evaluations sent alerts to the ministry when it judged that “the educational quality of a childcare service was worrying”. At that time, Quebec committed to intervening with the installation despite the suspension.

Of the 34 services examined by the VG and which were the subject of an alert, only 13 received follow-up from the ministry. “In addition, the ministry did not receive an action plan for 31 of these situations, despite the seriousness of the situations reported,” she notes.

Furthermore, the ministry’s intervention was rather limited and could be summed up as a phone call, underlines the Auditor General.

In total, some 1,643 facilities were evaluated between 2019 and 2022, which represents half of educational childcare services in facilities. Groups of children aged 3 to 5 were targeted.

Decline in ratios

The Auditor General points to the decline in the ratio of qualified educators to explain what could have contributed to the decline in educational quality. “In fact, educational childcare services with a lower ratio of qualified educators fail the evaluation more than those with a higher ratio,” she underlines.

Furthermore, the proportion of facility-based childcare services that did not reach the ratio of two out of three qualified educators continued to increase between 2018 and 2023, going from 32 to 46%. This rate explodes in unsubsidized daycare centers, reaching 86% in 2023.

After reducing the ratios during the pandemic, Quebec set itself the objective of a gradual return to a regulatory ratio of two qualified educators in three by April 2027.

The picture is not much better in terms of complaints. The Auditor General deplores in her report that their classification according to their priority “is not based on formal guidelines” and that half of the complaints relating to inappropriate practices or attitudes “are only the subject of a reminder good practices with educational childcare services, without verifying the allegations, and the ministry did not always intervene in a timely manner. »

“Some breaches relating to the health and safety of children are observed in up to 75% of inspections in educational childcare facilities,” she writes. Furthermore, more than 15% of installations have not yet been tested to measure the concentration of lead in water. The Ministry of Families processes 1,100 complaints per year.

Ministry comments

The Auditor General’s audit gives voice to the Ministry of Families, which says it welcomes the conclusions of the report. Faced with the failure rate in evaluating the educational quality of the facilities, Quebec responds that the pandemic and the “unprecedented” labor shortage have weighed down its results.

“The mobilization as well as the constant and sustained efforts of the network have made it possible to ensure quality service despite the challenges inherent to the pandemic context. The objective of the Ministry was to enable [services de garde] to focus on managing this crisis in order to be able to continue to welcome children safely and ensure the continuity of services,” we write.

The period covered by the audit work extends from April 2018 to September 2023.

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