In November, the OCBCC met with senior staff at the Ministry who confirmed that registration in the College of ECE's was an individual responsibility. It's now clear that the onus for ensuring registration will fall to child care centres leading to this letter.
February 2, 2009
Honourable Deb Matthews
Minister of Children and Youth Services
14th Floor, 56 Wellesley St. West
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S3
Dear Minister Matthews,
On February 14, 2009 the legislation that enacts the authority of the College for Early Childhood Educators will be proclaimed. The creation of the College was a recommendation of the Best Start Expert Panel on Quality and Human Resources.
The Expert Panel, established by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, identified four broad factors (2007) that must be addressed to improve quality in early learning and child care:
· effective policies, funding and infrastructure
· knowledgeable, committed practitioners with post-secondary education in early childhood development who are appropriately compensated for their work
· well designed programs with the capacity to meet the needs of all children
· strong partnerships with parents
The report details specific recommendations for all four key factors. They are intertwined; child care and early learning in Ontario can not change for the better without implementing all four. They explicitly stated that to strengthen the workforce and improve quality Ontario must fundamentally transform the way services are planned, funded, managed and delivered.
One recommendation among the many was the establishment of the College of Early Childhood Educators but this alone does not address the fundamental issue of wages and working conditions for ECEs. In fact, instituting the College without financial commitment to the other workforce recommendations is fiscally unfair for an underpaid and underfunded sector.
The child care services that Ontario has are not funded at a level to support quality, and the creation of the College alone will not improve this situation. The Expert Panel was very clear on this, they said it will not be enough to upgrade practitioner qualifications if practitioners do not have the resources, learning environments and supports to deliver high quality, inclusive, evidence based programs. The report explicitly says, “…the real costs of providing quality programs includes wages, benefits that reflect practitioners’ responsibilities and education, funding for ongoing pay equity adjustments for the predominately female workforce…”; if the system does not address the fundamental issue of wages and working conditions the College will not be effective.
Once this legislation is passed it will not only impact individuals but will also affect the licensing status of the centres that employ ECEs. They will no longer be able to lawfully operate under the Day Nurseries Act if their staff are not registered with the College. This places enforcement on the backs of the centre and may jeopardize the provision of scarce services.
Quality affordable child care, as you know, is a cornerstone of an equal civil society. The majority of families with young children depend on child care every day. And in these difficult economic times investing in quality child care to ensure the future health and well being of our children is a sure investment.
The child care community is looking to your government to make a commitment to improve early learning and care in Ontario. We expect to see significant investments in the 2009/10 budget that will allow your government to implement the significant recommendations in the Quality and Human Resources report.