Investing in early childhood educators creates a StrongerBC, Canada

February 18, 2022 at 10:57 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

More B.C. families will benefit from quality child care, thanks to investments that will encourage early childhood educator (ECE) recruitment and retention through better access to bursaries, professional development opportunities and wage enhancements.

“Early childhood educators are the workforce behind the workforce, and the heart of child care,” said Katrina Chen, B.C.’s Minister of State for Child Care. “Child care gives parents – especially mothers – the choice to pursue work, education and other opportunities to support their families. By supporting child care professionals, we’re building an economy that works for more families and helping to build a stronger B.C. for everyone.”

This investment in child care is part of the StrongerBC Economic Plan to make life better for people and families. The plan looks to fill more than one million jobs over the next decade by expanding opportunities for education and training and giving people the skills needed to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.

“We met with businesses, non-profit organizations and people across B.C. over the past year when building our StrongerBC Economic Plan, and heard very clearly that access to affordable, quality and inclusive child care was crucial to creating an economy that works for everyone,” said Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “To help meet the growing demand for child care spaces, our plan includes a generational commitment to train more people for the in-demand jobs of the future – like early childhood educators. Because an economy built for families, is an economy built to succeed.”

Through the Canada-British Columbia Early Learning and Child Care Agreement (ELCC), the Government of Canada is providing a one-time $49.2-million investment that will reduce barriers and increase access to post-secondary ECE programs and professional learning opportunities – including in under-served communities – and will support ECE graduates to transition to the workforce. Federal investments provided to the province through early childhood workforce funding complement and support the Canada-wide early learning and child care vision.

“Early childhood educators are at the very core of the Canada-wide system we are building with provinces and territories,” said Karina Gould, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. “Today’s announcement in British Columbia is another meaningful step in valuing their essential work and providing them with the tools, resources and training they need to succeed.”

Federal early childhood workforce funding will be allocated through several ECE support streams and may be adjusted incrementally to better support programs in high demand, including:

  • $25.5 million to continue providing ECE student bursaries for the next three to four years;
  • $11.6 million to support the development and delivery of a recruitment and retention incentive program to encourage new ECEs who become certified through the ECE Registry to work in the sector, and to improve information and understanding about ECE retention;
  • $7.5 million in professional development, inclusion support and deaf/hard-of-hearing training, and peer mentoring, including $3 million to be funded through West Coast Child Care Resource Centre for bursaries to assist child care professionals in accessing affordable professional learning;
  • $2.3 million toward a work-integrated approach that gives ECE students the opportunity to become certified while maintaining employment as a child care professional;
  • $1.15 million for the dual credit program so high school students can more quickly get their ECE certification (with the Province contributing an additional $575,000 in 2021-22); and
  • $750,000 to translate francophone ECE credentials or those from other countries to help certify new British Columbians to work as ECEs.

“The early childhood education dual credit program will give B.C. students a head start in their post-secondary early childhood education studies, while also helping to develop our province’s future workforce in this sector,” said Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.’s Minister of Education. “Students who complete a dual-credit course are more likely to graduate on time and more likely to transition to post-secondary education after high school, leading to further career opportunities in the future.”

As part of the 10-year ChildCareBC plan launched in 2018, the Province created an ECE recruitment and retention strategy to ensure ECEs receive training, support, compensation and recognition. Since then, the Province has doubled the number of available ECE seats at public post-secondary schools and provided $93.1 million through three increases to wage enhancements for ECEs. The most recent increase, under B.C. Budget 2021, doubled the ECE wage enhancement to $4 an hour for more than 10,000 ECEs working in British Columbia. The new increase will raise the ECE median wage in B.C. to approximately $25 an hour.

B.C. anticipates there will be more than 10,000 job openings for certified ECEs and assistants in the coming decade.

The StrongerBC Economic Plan moves British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today while growing an economy that works for everyone. The long-term plan builds off B.C.’s strong economic recovery and works to address two long-standing challenges – inequality and climate change – by closing the skills gap, building resilient communities and helping businesses and people transition to clean energy solutions. The plan sets two main goals for the Province – inclusive growth and clean growth – and puts forward six missions to keep B.C. on track.

These investments support the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia’s shared commitment to building a quality, inclusive child care system for all B.C. families, when they need it and at a price they can afford.

Quotes:

Emily Gawlick, executive director, Early Childhood Educators of BC –

“For too long, investments in early childhood education weren’t a priority in B.C. and it’s led to a significant shortage of ECEs. We welcome these supports and professional development opportunities by both levels of government to help build the strong ECE professional workforce needed to effectively provide families with quality, inclusive and culturally safe child care in B.C. We look forward to continued work with government on ensuring ECEs have the supports they need to succeed.”

Aryanna Chartrand, ECE practicum student at Capilano University in North Vancouver –

“Having access to ECE bursaries for my program has helped me so much. It’s incredible to know that many more ECEs will be getting support to complete their education, and that more professional development opportunities will be there when we need them.”

Learn More:

For more about Childcare BC, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare

To learn more about early learning training and professional development, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/ecestrategy

To see the newly revamped Early Childhood Educator Registry site, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/earlychildhoodeducator

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