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.
“The greater the gap, the more it acts like a chimney. It is one line of the investigation.” Grenfell Tower Block FireCredit:Eyevine Grenfell Tower was fitted with combustible cladding and flammable insulation. The insulation was fitted between the original concrete pillars and the external aluminium cladding with a plastic flammable core used for rain protection.The source said: “The investigation is not just looking at the materials but the design of Grenfell Tower. The triangular shape created by the cladding has created a void and the flames have shot up the side. Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 and the concrete pillars that ran up its side are unusual. That may give some crumb of comfort to residents in other tower blocks that have also been clad.If the unusual design was central to the speed of the inferno, residents in other tower blocks may feel more reassured. Fire investigators believe the unusual design of Grenfell Tower created a chimney effect that led to the fire engulfing the building in minutes.A well-placed source has told The Telegraph that cladding placed over ‘triangular’ shaped concrete columns may have created a void which sucked up the flames. A total of ten columns run up the sides of the building with a further column at each corner. Investigators now believe that when those columns were fitted with cladding, they could have created an air gap that acted as a chimney.Videos of the blaze clearly show the flames spreading upwards far faster than they spread sideways. Investigators are looking at whether fire breaks were built in to the newly clad columns. Given the speed the fire spread up the side of the building that appears unlikely. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.