Families will have better access to the supports they need to ensure their children get a strong start in life thanks to changes and funding announced in this year’s budget. Premier Darrell Dexter and Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Ramona Jennex visited Rockingstone Heights School in Halifax today, April 10, to talk about the initiatives, which include integrating provincial programs and services for children and families, establishing early years centres, and free, comprehensive screening of children at 18 and 36 months. “I’ve talked to many parents and grandparents over the years,” said Premier Dexter. “They tell me that the health and education of their children needs to be a priority for government, and that the success of our province depends on the foundation our young people get early on. I couldn’t agree more. “With so many great opportunities on the way for Nova Scotians, I want to make sure that each and every one of our children gets the best possible start in life to help them reach their full potential. These changes will help to do that.” Research shows the years from birth to age 6 are the most important in a child’s development, the premier said. To ensure a better focus on those years, the province announced in the Speech from the Throne last month that it was expanding the Department of Education to include an early years branch, which created the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. “We have many great services and programs for young children and families,” said Ms. Jennex. “Families were having a hard time navigating the system to access those supports. These changes are about doing the great work already being done more efficiently, so more children and their families can access and benefit from the resources available.” The early years branch creates a team of early childhood development experts from the departments of Community Services, Health and Wellness, and Education to enhance collaboration, strengthen expertise and expand knowledge. “I am very pleased to hear that so much is being done to integrate supports for children and families,” said parent Christine Lane. “I’ve been involved with early intervention programs for almost 10 years with my son, and have found them very helpful. Having such expertise together in one department will make the transition to school smoother for children, families and the schools.” The province is also establishing three early years centres across the province that will provide support for young children and their families at accessible locations in the community. These centres build on the highly successful SchoolsPlus model being used in schools like Rockingstone Heights, and will help bring seamless access to regulated child care, early learning programs, early intervention and parent education. Through the early years branch, the province is developing a comprehensive plan for checkups with families when a child is 18 months old and again at 36 months. These free visits are designed to identify a child’s needs early, to ensure supports are in place when the child starts school. These steps are based on feedback in response to the Early Years discussion paper released in May. More than 1,000 Nova Scotians attended focus groups and interested groups sessions and provided written submissions on how to improve supports for children and families.
US consumer confidence rises for fourth month to highest level in nearly 7 years by Christopher S. Rugaber, The Associated Press Posted Aug 26, 2014 8:47 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email WASHINGTON – U.S. consumer confidence this month reached its highest point in nearly seven years, boosted by strong job gains.The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index rose for a fourth straight month to 92.4 from 90.3 in July. The August reading is the highest since October 2007, two months before the Great Recession officially began.The optimism suggests that Americans will be more likely to spend in the months ahead, an important boost to the economy. Consumer spending drives about 70 per cent of U.S. economic activity.“The rise in confidence adds to other evidence that the U.S. economy is going from strength to strength,” said Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics.The survey found that Americans’ outlook on the job market brightened considerably. The percentage of respondents who said jobs were “plentiful” rose to 18.2 per cent from 15.6 per cent in July. That’s the highest level since 2008. Consumers’ perceptions generally track the unemployment rate over time.Steady and solid hiring this year has provided more Americans with paychecks to spend. Employers have added an average of 230,000 jobs a month this year, up from about 195,000 a month in 2013. Average monthly job gains since February have produced the best six-month stretch since 2006.The unemployment rate ticked up to 6.2 per cent in July from 6.1 per cent in June. But that was because more Americans began looking for work. Most didn’t immediately find jobs, but the increase in people looking for work suggests that they are more confident about their prospects.Lower gasoline prices have also likely helped. The average price of a gallon of gas nationwide Monday was $3.44, the lowest in nearly six months, according to AAA. That leaves Americans with more money to spend on other goods and services. This month, the percentage of Americans who said they plan to buy a car reached its highest level in five months.Confidence bottomed during the Great Recession in February 2009 at 25.3 before beginning an upward swing. While the index still hasn’t returned to full health, it is well above last year’s average of 72.3. In the 20 years before the downturn, the index averaged nearly 102.