Reflections from our Skills Training & Mobilization Workshop

The OCBCC along with CUPE and the Ryerson School of Early Childhood Studies, brought Sharon Gregson from British Columbia to hear about their amazing campaign that has built so much momentum and excitement for change in BC.

British Columbia and Ontario are a lot alike. We both have a huge shortage of child care, and the child care we do have is too expensive for most families. Like in Ontario, in BC many families are forced to consider unlicensed child care, even though that may not be their first choice for care.

BC’s current provincial government is a right-wing government with no interest in improving child care to ensure it is available, affordable and high quality – for every family who needs it.

In BC, advocates developed a plan for $10 a day child care. While the current government does not support the plan, advocates are gaining huge support, networking and increasing public expectations for what is possible. More than 6000 individuals and organizations have endorsed the plan for child care. That shows a lot of community education, broad-based support and momentum for positive change for child care in BC.

In advance of developing our own campaign, we held a workshop for child care advocates, staff, ECE students and community partners on the afternoon of November 15th, 2012. Participants came from around the province – Windsor to Ottawa, Kenora to Peterborough, Niagara to the greater Toronto area.

 

This exciting afternoon included a brainstorming of our vision for child care and presentations from Sharon on the BC Campaign; the YWCA on community organizing; the Ontario Federation of Labour on social media and communications tools; and from the Eyeopener magazine on the power of community media.

Below we've outlined some of the highlights and take-home messages from each presentation.

 

Some highlights from the “My vision for child care” brainstorming:

  • well resourced and compensated
  • professional and innovative
  • high quality for low cost
  • creative, wonderful, wonder-filled, excited, playful and funny
  • equal partners in a universal access framework
  • I am a social worker and local immigration partnership program coordinator, I need to know what we can do about waiting lists.

 

Sharon Gregson: Reflections on the BC campaign.

One of the critical factors of the success of the organizing in British Columbia is that the $10 a day child care campaign is a true partnership of the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC (CCCABC)  and the Early Childhood Educators of BC (ECEBC).

The two organizations had the relationships, credibility and community to embark on such a project.

The campaign moved from describing a problem to describing a solution.

The campaign moved from reinforcing child care as a problem to politicians to  reinforcing child care as the solution.

The plan recognizes that child care is in the midst of a generational change, both among child care providers and the families we serve.

People outside the child care sector don’t know the problems but they can be organized on the solutions. People outside of the child care sector know how important child care is – organizers have focused on municipalities, school boards, First Nations and business to bring a plan for positive solutions to child care.

 

Strategies for Community Organizing,  Sarah Blackstock, YWCA Toronto

Sarah talked of the growing difficulties in advocacy work. 10 years of defunding of advocacy has devastated women’s groups. We have lots of small organizations, under-resourced, have a hard enough time trying to get their own issue out there, no time for coalition building and collaborative work with other groups.

The YWCA provides a wide range of programs – shelters, employment, anti-violence. Child care is not our core issue, but we see the impacts of the lack of child care across every program area that we work in.

The Coalition, with its mandate to bring organizations together on the issue of child care is more needed today than ever. That is one reason the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care is so important. Almost every organization that provides service to people, confronts child care as an issue. Every college, every university. Most if not all employers

The most important point is that we need to keep our advocacy work going because it is needed now, more than ever.

All organizing is relationship building. The OCBCC needs a strong regional network. The OCBCC needs representatives in local communities who can help implement campaigns.

If you are really going to do community organizing right, you have put aside other work and focus on relationships to build a strong organization and a strong foundation.

 

Communication Techniques – How to use Facebook, Twitter and Interactive websites – Joel Duff, Ontario Federation of Labour

Joel walked participants through the uses of tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and interactive websites such as WeAreOntario.ca as well as how to use them effectively. If you have questions about social media, send us an e-mail, we'd be happy to help!

 

The Power of Community Media, Liane McLarty, General Manager, Ryerson Eyeopener Newspaper

Child care is a great issue to get coverage in community media. We have authentic stories, real people and an issue that most people want to see addressed.

With the right message, with a parent and child care centres lined up – willing to do interviews and have a photo – community newspapers across Ontario would pursue a story.

So, if you do that work – have a clear message, organize a few parents to speak out, we can have a huge impact.

Working with ethnic and social agencies, we bring our child care message to diverse organizations, diverse communities, community newspapers.

That is building a real campaign for the long-term – having a clear message, building visible support though some kind of endorsement, ensuring follow-up etc.

Community media matters. People pay attention to local news, they trust local news stories and they respond when they see local community advocates in the media. Child care advocacy can reach out to new constituencies, parents and decision-makers by focusing on community media to help us tell or stories and get attention for your issue.

For more pictures from the workshop (courtesy of the OFL) click here.

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