A budget about children: Marshall

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Lots of focus on services and education for youth

Budget 2010 documents. Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

In his budget speech today in the House of Assembly in St. John's, Finance Minister Tom Marshall stressed that every initiative in Budget 2010 - directly or indirectly - is about the province's children and their future.
The document is titled: Budget 2010: The Right Investments - For Our Children and Our Future.
Mentioned were the continued development of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, building new schools and creating new education programs and strategies, and enhancing foster care and other protective services and social programs.
There was also the continued freeze on post-secondary tuition fees for Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic (CONA) students, new residences at St. John's and Corner Brook, and a new CONA campus in Labrador West.
"From start to finish, Mr. Speaker, this budget is about children: their dreams, their best interests, their province and their future," Marshall said.
Highlights include:
• $1.3 million in education spending;
• Total budget of $167 million for the Department of Child, Youth and Family services, which includes funding to improve service delivery by hiring 27 new personnel;
• $400,000 to design the first phase of a new computerized case management system for social workers and managers and $3.1 million to set up more than 600 staff in 52 locations on the government technology network;
• $21.8 million to help cover the cost of residential services for at-risk children and youth;
• $36,000 for a survey of foster families to understand the challenges and how to address them;
• Increased funding of $30,600 for the Foster Families Association;
• $507,500 for consultations to develop an Early Childhood Learning Framework;
• $150,200 for speech language pathology services for preschoolers in the rural Avalon region and in Clarenville.

Highlights of improvements in the K12 education system:
• $2.2 million to advance the Excellence in Mathematics strategy;
• $1.9 million to extend the class-size cap to include K-9;
• $383,900 to increase the number of hours for student assistants.

The budget also sets aside money for the planning of a new high school in the west end of St. John's, redevelopment of Exploits Valley High in Grand Falls-Windsor; funding to support a commitment to build a new school to replace Virginia Park Elementary in St. John's, and money to extend or expand schools and classrooms in other communities, and to continue various K-12 infrastructure projects.

For post-secondary infrastructure:
• $18 million to begin construction of a 500-bed residence at Memorial University's St. John's campus and a 200-bed residence at Corner Brook campus, and money to upgrade existing residences;
• $11.5 million for the construction of the new College of the North Atlantic Labrador West campus;
• $13 million for construction of the new academic building at Memorial's Corner Brook campus;
• $5 million for MUN and $1 million for the College of the North Atlantic to extend the tuition freeze for 2010;

Also, money to continue marketing the university nationally and globally, upgrading equipment and technology at MUN and CONA, and $2 million to continue to increase the autonomy for Memorial's Corner Brook campus.

More details and reaction to follow on the website, and complete and detailed coverage in Tuesday's print edition.

Organizations: Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic, College of the North Atlantic Labrador West, CONA Department of Child Youth and Family Services Foster Families Association

Geographic location: St. John's, Corner Brook, Labrador West Avalon Clarenville Grand Falls-Windsor

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