Early Learning support program in Catholic Division moving to full time

Photo from PACSD website. The Prince Albert Catholic School Division (PACSD) hopes St. John Community School will be one of five schools sleeved to take part in a new mental health capacity building initiative.

An early learning program offered to pre-Kindergarten students who need intensive supports in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division is expanding after a successful first year.

The Early Learning Intensive Support (ELIS) program will be moving from pilot to full time in 2022-2023. Education director Lorel Trumier said this shows the province recognizes the program was worthwhile for students who took part in it.

“It basically provides some support in those Pre-K classrooms for children with intensive needs to get them ready for school and working through a program plan,” she said.

“Some of the pieces of that (plan) worked out in Pre-K, so they can begin in Kindergarten and Grade 1 and move forward.”

The Catholic Division was one of several school divisions chosen to take part in the program by the Ministry of Education in March 2019.

The program funded 12 additional pre-Kindergarten spaces to support three and four year old children who require intensive supports for their individual needs.

The division will continue to receive funding for those 12 spots when the program moves full-time next year. Trumier said that the pilot showed just how valuable the program is.

“We have been very fortunate to be a part of the pilot and we certainly endorse the continuation of the program,” Trumier said. “Our feedback has been received from the Ministry of Education. It has been worthwhile, (and) we are very pleased that it continues and will continue on a more formal basis and regular basis within our system.”

ELIS supports are currently offered at St. Catherine School, St. Francis School, St. John Community School, St. Michael School and Ecole St. Anne School. ELIS sites are determined according to need.

The board also dealt with a similar matter on Monday: an application by St. John Community School to be a part of the Mental Health Capacity Building (MHCB) initiative.

“We are really hoping for that kind of support in the area of mental health and there is some assessment work that has to happen at the school level at the areas they would like to focus on,” Trumier said.

“That will be part of the application as well as part of that process for what’s happening at St. John,” she added.

The program started in 2019 as a collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). Five different schools will take part in the pilot project.

The MHCB initiative does not provide counselling in schools but it does aim to build capacity in schools and promote mental health and well-being in children, youth, families and communities.

For the 2022-2023 school year, all school divisions have been invited to apply to have one school in their divisions take part in the program.

If they are chosen, St, John would receive funding to employ an MHCB coordinator and wellness promotor for the school.

The division expects to be notified by the end of May.

michael.oleksyn@paherald.sk.ca

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