Number of early childhood educators dwindling in East Kootenay

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The East Kootenay region is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family, but the beauty of the region is not enough to entice qualified early childhood educators to move to southeastern British Columbia. The number of vacant employment positions is not a surprise to early childhood educators who have left early learning and child care positions. Early childhood educators face significant challenges in the delivery of accessible, affordable, high quality child care.

“Long hours, low wages and staff shortages can take a toll on even the most experienced child care provider,” said Mary Noble, East Kootenay co-ordinator for Children First and Success By 6. “Early childhood educators who leave their careers just get tired of waiting for governing bodies to address their concerns.”

When asked about their future plans, 19 of 39 respondents on the East Kootenay Child Care Needs Assessment — spearheaded by the East Kootenay Child Care Task Force — stated they were either considering or undecided about finding work outside of the child care field.

“Such findings are of extreme concern when programs are already facing significant operational challenges with respect to delivering of accessible, affordable, high quality child care programs,” said Jane Boyd, the consultant who led the East Kootenay Child Care Needs Assessment. “The loss of any of these educators will likely result in program closures.”

Early childhood educators have an important role in contemporary societies. They work alongside parents, grandparents and other adults in guardian positions to enhance the quality of young children’s lives. Early childhood educators and other direct care providers are an extension of family for children who attend preschool, day care and out of school care programs. It is the quality of the program that makes the difference in the early years.

Since there is generally a correlation between the quality of education and the quality of professional practice, it is concerning to regional service providers to discover that only five of 41 early years practitioners who responded to the question about training indicated they were continuing their studies in early childhood education. Financial barriers, as well as limited access to quality mentorship programs, were identified as deterrents for students.

For more information about the East Kootenay Child Care Task Force and the crisis in early learning and childcare, contact Children First co-ordinator Mary Noble at 250-426-2542 or ekidsfirst@shaw.ca.

The East Kootenay Child Care Task Force was formed in 2013 by representatives from East Kootenay Children First, East Kootenay Success By 6, East Kootenay Child Care Resource and Referral with other East Kootenay community members who experienced and/or who serve children, families, and child care programs impacted by child care in the East Kootenay area.

A copy of the report can be seen by clicking here.

—EAST KOOTENAY CHILD CARE TASK FORCE

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