The reopening of child care in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges and concerns for educators, families, parents, and child care allies. The Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care hear these concerns and are working to advocate for the safe and effective reopening of child care in Ontario, while considering the needs of children, parents, families, and educators.
Recently we spoke with over 1,000 parents and educators, to build cooperation between these two groups of natural allies. We trained hundreds of ECEs and parents to meet their MPPs, to share their experiences, and use their power to directly influence change-makers. We know this strategy is effective - as we saw with the campaign to save the Wage Enhancement Grant, your stories moved politicians to action. Lastly we rallied in the thousands, virtually and in-person, raising our collective voice so that the needs of educators, children, and families are amplified as the Province moves to reopen child care.
There is still more to be done, and we need to continue to work together, our collective voice is louder with you - we are stronger together.
Today, the Government of Ontario announced the province-wide reopening of child care centres. With vague health and safety guidelines, no notice for staff and programs, and no promises of adequate funding to support child care programs to operate at lower capacity or with increased wages for staff, this is NOT the safe, sustainable plan for reopening called for in our report, From Reopening to Recovery. We will join together with early childhood educators, child care operators, and parents to hold the government accountable and advocate for what is needed for a safe and sustainable reopening and recovery - today, tomorrow and in the days to come. We will continue to share information and advocacy initiatives with you. We deserve better.
Read our recommendations
Send a letter to your elected representative
Update - the Ministry of Education has now posted an Operational Guidance document: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/child-care-re-opening-operational-guidance.pdf
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We have been working over the closure period to create opportunities for ECEs and early years staff to come together, for us to listen to your concerns and ideas and to advocate on your behalf. In our survey, we heard from almost 4,000 ECEs and early years staff. This informed our report From Reopening to Recovery, co-authored with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) which included 27 recommendations to government on what is necessary in order for Ontario's early years programs to be able to reopen, or operate, safely in the context of COVID-19. We continue to call on government to do better.
Today the Ontario government announced they will share more details on their plan for reopening childcare tomorrow, as they move into a regional Stage 2 opening. We are concerned. As we have seen through their "Stabilization Funding", the government has taken slow and insufficient action to support early years programs and ECEs and early years staff.
We are continuing to organize and advocate to make sure the needs of ECEs and early years staff and children are a priority, and that sufficient funding and supports are in place so that programs can survive and thrive through the Emergency Order period, and reopen only when it is safe and they are prepared to.
But - WE NEED YOUR HELP. Our collective voice is louder with you - we are stronger together.
Right now you can:
1. Read and share our report, co-authored by the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), From Reopening to Recovery: https://www.aeceo.ca/from_reopening_to_recovery
2. Send a letter to you MPP and the Minister of Education supporting From Reopening to Recovery: https://www.childcareontario.org/child_care_needs_a_safe_re…
3. Invite parents in your network who are concerned about programs reopening to our Parent Call on June 9th at 7:30 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/…/tZIsdO6hrD8pE9OtBxtJ06MgH4aTVKrI8…
4. Join us Wednesday, June 10 at 1:00pm to learn how to meet with your MPPs and get connected with others in your area: https://us02web.zoom.us/…/tZIscOisqTguHNc7iEprLFOhVH5u9iPW7…
5. If you can, consider becoming a member or donating to help us continue our work: https://www.aeceo.ca/membership
A Plan for Child Care Reopening in Ontario and Moving to a Publicly Funded System
On May 19th, the Ontario government announced that “a gradual reopening of child care is expected to begin when the province is ready to transition to Stage 2 based on public health criteria”. In response, and informed by sector consultation, public health guidelines and recommendations, and a scan of the best available evidence from other jurisdictions, the AECEO and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care have developed recommendations "From Reopening to Recovery: A plan for child care reopening in Ontario and moving to a publicly funded system" with the goal of ensuring:
- A safe reopening
- Adequate funding and support for educators and programs; and
- A strengthened child care system at the core of economic and social recovery.
Ensuring that these recommendations are enacted across Ontario will require concerted and determined community advocacy. We need every partner and ally to demand nothing less than a safe, supported reopening that protects children, families, educators, early years staff and programs.
Please go HERE to send an email to your federal and provincial representatives supporting a safe reopening and recovery.
Child care centres across Ontario have been closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This report sets out the steps needed to ensure the safe, healthy reopening of child care. To achieve this, we need adequate funding and support for educators and programs. With this support, a strengthened child care system could be the core of economic and social recovery.
Today, the Province has not put the necessary support in place. The early years and child care sector is unheard, unrecognized, underfunded and, therefore, unprepared. RECEs and early years staff want to return to work but are very concerned about what it will look like. Some of their most urgent concerns are:
- Being able to protect themselves while at work;
- Having the appropriate staff, resources, and support to implement new health and safety protocols in their program; and
- Their program’s ability to access supplies and implement new health and safety procedures.
Based on our extensive consultation with the early years and child care sector this report presents 27 detailed recommendations to ensure a safe and healthy reopening and recovery. They provide in-depth advice to government on the need for transparency, health assurances, guidelines, access to space, testing, safety supplies and equipment, funding, employment conditions, communication, and training.
- We call for meeting or exceeding current best practices in Emergency Child Care for reopening, including greatly reduced groups sizes and enhanced staff to child ratios, and full base funding for child care programs.
- We estimate that this approach will mean tripling the child care budget. We need the federal and provincial government to work together to ensure that the necessary funding and policy is in place.
We cannot stop at reopening. Early learning and child care programs must be a priority for both economic and social recovery:
- The economic recession triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic is disproportionately impacting women. Programs to support women’s employment must be at the heart of Canada’s plans for economic recovery.
- To properly support a generation of young children to recover from the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic requires Canada to finally treat child care as a priority, rather than an afterthought.
Our children and families – and the educators that support them – deserve no less.
Download the Full Report HERE
Download the Executive Summary HERE
From Reopening to Recovery Webinar Video
From Reopening to Recovery Webinar Presentation
Ontario Child Care Parents Webinar Video
Ontario Child Care Parents Webinar Presentation
Next steps in advocating for a safe plan for the ECE sector:
- Webinar June 10th at 1 p.m. - How to meet your MPP: Click HERE to register
Toronto Star article on the report.
In partnership with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, we have outlined essential short and long term components for any plan for early learning and child care, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes short-term actions to stabilize the sector and protect educators and families. But our community, and our governments, must also be looking ahead to recovery post-pandemic. We need our governments to commit to and fund a long-term strategy that puts child care at the core of social and economic recovery. We need all levels of government to act.
Goals: Protect educators, families and programs. Put early learning and child care at the core of recovery.
Action 1: Provide emergency funding that ensures professional wages
Action 2: Consult the early learning and child care sector on a safe, responsible and transparent re-opening plan
Action 3: Provide substantial new funding for health and safety, staff training and supports, paid sick days, etc.
Action 4: Plan and expand the early learning and child care – child care for all!
Action 5: Base fund the child care system so that child care continues to be free for parents.
We are calling on the provincial and federal governments to ensure that the health, safety and well-being of educators and families is part of any re-opening plan, and to put child care at the core of social and economic recovery.
Click HERE to find out more and to send an email to your elected officials to ask for their support.
In our first Child Care Operators’ Webinar we began a conversation about how the ECE sector is responding to COVID-19. We heard from three operators about how they have been negotiating the challenges and what they are proud of. We also heard from you about what we can do to support you and what your most pressing concerns are. With our partners the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and the Atkinson Centre, over 600 people joined us on May 14 for our second Webinar.
We are responding to your concerns and will be highlighting the experiences of ECEs and operators in emergency child care. We know there is much trepidation and uncertainty about what our programs will look like when they re-open. We don’t have all the answers for what is to come, but we can learn from those who are working through these challenges now. We will also continue our conversation about the role of advocacy. When we are working together our collective voice is strong and we hold power to make positive change for our sector. We need to ensure child care and early years programs are thoughtfully planned, properly resourced, and keep decent work and care at the core.
- Jill Wilkins, RECE, Operations Link, Compass Early Learning and Care
- Melissa Boekee, RECE, Compass Early Learning and Care
- Marni Flaherty, RECE, CEO, Today’s Family
- Monica Lysack, RECE, Professor, Sheridan College
Today we have launched two new advocacy actions. We know that ECEs and early years staff have many concerns at this time and we are doing our best to address them all. These two actions respond to only two of the many important and critical issues we are working on.
Early Childhood Educators deserve $4 pandemic pay and decent work:
We wrote to Education Minister Stephen Lecce to express our deep concerns with the inconsistent and often very low wages of ECEs and child care workers, who are working across the province on the front-lines in emergency child care supporting children and families.
We demanded that the Ontario Government extend the $4 pandemic pay to apply to all staff in emergency child care and ensure a minimum wage of $25 an hour for all ECEs providing care in Ontario.
You can amplify our demands to immediately extend the $4 pandemic pay to Early Childhood Educators and child care workers working in emergency child care. Click HERE to send an email to Premier Ford, Education Minister Lecce and your local MPP.
Click HERE to read our letter to Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
Returning to Work: ECE and early years staff perspectives:
We understand this is a time of uncertainty, and many are worried about what our programs and profession will look like post-COVID. We are taking a solution-based approach to engaging with decision-makers and hearing from you will help us to raise your concerns and ideas directly to government. By filling out this survey you are helping the AECEO to identify the pressing concerns of RECEs and early years staff.
We invite you to fill out this survey and share your concerns, perspectives, and ideas with us.
Click HERE to access the survey. Survey closes May 18.
Thank you for advocating with us!
We know that the current context has left child care programs, operators, RECEs and early years staff in a state of uncertainty. We are hearing from operators seeking resources and answers as they make important decisions about how they support their staff and families and navigate new and changing economic support programs. We do not have all the answers, but we do have access to the best resource - our shared experiences.
Alongside our partners at the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and Atkinson Centre, we invited child care operators, supervisors, directors and board members to join us on April 24th as we brought together three operators from diverse settings for an interactive, facilitated discussion about how they are responding to the context, questions they are grappling with, and strategies they are using in making decisions. In our discussion we collectively identified outstanding questions and concerns and resources to support you through this time. Most importantly, we came together and shared our experiences. We are not alone, and we are stronger together.
Panel Moderator: Jennifer Kirkham
- Sheila Olan-MacLean, CEO, Compass Early Learning and Child Care
- Tracy Saarikoski, Executive Director, Discovery Early Learning & Care
- Amy O'Neil, Director, Treetop Children's Centre
You can engage in advocacy by:
- Endorsing Child Care Now's Plan to save child care
Sending an email to your MPP demanding emergency sustainability funds for the child care sector.
- Sending us resources we can share to the collective resources document - this is a living document we can continue to build together.
- Supporting the AECEO and OCBCC through membership, information sharing and amplifying our calls to action.
The AECEO is continuing to support the collective voice of our sector. One way this is being done is through weekly meetings with our Community of Practice (CoPs) leaders, who share updates from their team and networks.
“In bringing together many roles such as supervisors, administrators, program teachers, graduate students and college faculty in the Ontario sector we have come to see each other’s points of view, identifying the many unanswered questions that have arisen with these uncertain times.
We want you to know that we are collectively searching for any answers or supports that we can send your way. We are all in this together. To help us identify the ongoing issues and support each other, we invite you to come together for a “Virtual Coffee and Conversation” with your local CoPs so we can discuss your questions and concerns as we continue to navigate so many unknowns.”
“Don't be silent...we are listening. You are not invisible… we see you. You are not alone... we are stronger together” Nikki, CoP Lead North Bay
Please visit our CoP's facebook groups for more registration information.
Tuesday, April 21 - 11:00am - 12:00pm
Sudbury: visit https://www.facebook.com/AECEOSudbury/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org for registration
Wednesday, April 22 - 1:30pm-2:30pm
Thunder Bay: visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/1956174481327533/ or click here to register
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As this public health emergency unfolds we know many educators and early years staff have questions related to work and financial support. Here is the best information we can gather at this time.
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As the professional association for Registered Early Childhood Educators in Ontario, the AECEO is deeply concerned about the health and well-being of early childhood educators as the COVID-19 situation unfolds. In addition, the lack of decision-making and leadership from the Ministry of Education in providing clear direction to the child care and early years sector, subsequent to the closure of Ontario Public Schools, is highly problematic.
We are concerned that increased demand for the care of children who cannot attend their regular program/school may fall disproportionately to underpaid early childhood educators and other low-waged care workers. This also highlights the devaluation of care work and the incohesive ‘system’ that continues to make care an individual as opposed to collective responsibility.
The lack of decent work for early childhood educators amplifies pressures to attend work despite feeling ill, emergent need to care for family members, or other reasons related to COVID-19. In order to care-well for our communities, we need structures in place which ensure that early childhood educators and other early years staff are safe, healthy, and experience well-being through decent work.
As such we call on the Provincial Government to immediately:
· Make a clear decision and consider all best measures to ensure public health and well-being, including early childhood educators and early years staff.
· Ensure all early childhood educators and early years staff have protection for lost wages and work due to COVID-19
· Protect child care and early years programs and parents from lost income due to COVID-19.
· Ensure income and job protection for educators and parents affected by COVID-19
· Provide the early years and child care sector clear next steps.
· Implement adequate paid sick days for all workers.
· Restore 10 days of job-protected emergency leave days for all workers.
· Prevent employers from asking workers to provide doctors’ notes when they access paid sick days or job protected emergency leave.
As well, we call on the Federal Government to implement emergency measures to increase access to Employment Insurance (EI) and create an emergency fund for those experiencing a loss or interruption of earnings, and for those who cannot access EI.
In a recent memo, the Ministry of Education has clarified that, “The Ministerial Order does not apply to child care … Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams is asking that all licensed child care centres actively check children, parents, staff and visitors for any symptoms and ask about recent travel history that may be related to COVID-19. It is critical that we keep COVID-19 out of our child care spaces.” The AECEO acknowledges the collective responsibility of all citizens to protect community health. However, downloading responsibility to combat COVID-19 to individual early childhood educators, childcare workers, and programs, is highly negligent and inappropriate.
We urgently call on the Ontario government to take full responsibility for ensuring public well-being, including that of early childhood educators and early years staff.
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The College of Early Childhood Educators (The College) has recently proposed reviewing their entry to practice requirements and the establishment of additional membership categories. Consultation has begun with subject matter experts and employers, requesting feedback on their Modernizing Membership proposals. The College has communicated that they are in the preliminary stages of consultation, and broader feedback will be collected in a future phase.
The AECEO is consulting our members, so that they may share their thoughts, concerns, or questions regarding the Modernizing Membership proposals with us. We will reflect those thoughts in our own feedback to the College regarding these changes. Please send responses to email@example.com by March 13, 2020.
This consultation process takes the form of three online surveys that can be completed after watching three 9-15 minute videos.
The first video concerns a proposed new requirement for registration with the College. The College is proposing that it establish a 15 hour online learning “module” entitled Preparation for Regulated ECE Practice (PREP) as an additional requirement for registration. The intent of this registration requirement is to assure the College “that before an ECE begins practising in Ontario, they have sufficient knowledge and understanding of what it means to be an ECE and what an ECE's responsibilities in Ontario are.”
The second presentation and survey concern a proposed new membership group for ECEs. Specifically, the College is proposing developing an Extended Class of membership entitled “Extended Class – Supervision Specialty”. The video states that supervision and administration in the EYCC sector requires additional knowledge and skill. To register with the College in an Extended Class – Supervision Specialty, applicants would require, “A minimum of three years of post-secondary education that includes successful completion of a graduate certificate program in early childhood administration in Ontario”. The College would establish a set of additional standards of practice for the Supervision Specialty which members of this class must uphold. Further, members of the Extended Class - Supervision Specialty would be required to participate in the College’s Continuous Professional Learning (CPL) program with specific requirements for ECE (Extended Class – Supervision Specialty) members.
Mentioned in the French videos and transcript is an additional proposal for the College to create a category for early childhood resource consultants who are not ECEs and therefore do not meet the College’s current registration requirements. To register for this category, applicants must have completed training in early childhood education or in a field related to early childhood resource counseling services.
The final video presents the College’s proposal to establish a Non-Practising Class for ECEs. To maintain membership with the College, members of this Non-Practising Class would pay an annual renewal. These members would be allowed to use the titles of RECE or ECE but would be required to specify that they were part of the Non-Practising Class. These members would be prohibited from practising Early Childhood Education in Ontario as long as they were in the Non-Practising Class. It is stated that the College is “still considering whether it would require Non-Practising Class members to participate in CPL”.
Please note, these are summaries of the proposal initiatives. The full transcripts and links to complete the surveys can be accessed here, and will be available until Friday, March 13th.
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On March 7th the AECEO brought together over 200 educators to think, learn, and discuss at the Framing Our Future Kindergarten Summit. From the opening words of Decent Work advocate Jenn Miller, to the rousing call to action from Olivia Chow, the event focused on possibilities and solutions for decent work in Full Day Kindergarten.
Participants were able to learn from educators with lived experience in many areas, and took part in profound discussion throughout the day. Our organisation was able to learn much from participants, and we are grateful to all those who attended.
Participant feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with comments such as "I'm not the only one who feels this way", and "We need to work together to change the system for everybody".
Many participants have already signed up to join FREE online leadership training with Olivia Chow and her team, this training (the first of many opportunities to gain leadership and advocacy skills) is aimed specifically at educators in the FDK system.We invite those of you who couldn't make it to the summit to register for this opportunity to stay connected (and to participate in no-cost CPL) sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/icl-x-aeceo-online-training-ser…
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As part of the AECEO and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care's project on Early Learning and Child Care Human Resources Innovation and Decent Work, we are pleased to present our new HR Innovation Toolkit.
The HR Innovation Toolkit begins to address recruitment and retention challenges in early learning and child care (ELCC) across Canada by sharing innovative tools and wise practices that advance decent work. Informed by our National Network on ELCC Human Resources Innovation and Decent Work, and stakeholders across the country, these tools are sourced from diverse ELCC organizations. The toolkit, and all its resources, are publicly available for use by administrators, educators and students.
- To download the tools and learn more about the project, please visit: org/hrtoolkit
- This toolkit is a living document! If you would like to submit an innovative tool, guide or policy, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This project is funded by the Government of Canada's Social Development Partnerships Program - Children and Families.
Submitted to the Government of Ontario on January 24, 2020, the AECEO's submission calls on the government to:
- Commit to continuing the $2 Wage Enhancement Grant (WEG) and Home Child Care Enhancement Grant, and immediately extending the WEG to include RECEs and program staff in EarlyON Centres.
- Reverse the $48 million in cuts to child care and increase operating funding to keep pace with capital expansion.
- Develop and implement a publicly funded province-wide annually indexed wage scale with a $25/hour minimum wage for RECEs and commensurate compensation for early years staff, a benefits package, including 7 paid sick and 10 job protected personal leave
Click HERE to read the full submission.
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During an interview with Melanie Ng for BT on January 20, 2020, the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, referred to the Kindergarten Program teaching partnership as having “one EA and one Teacher”. While we appreciate the tremendously valuable work of Educational Assistants, and recognize they are an integral part of our schools, it is Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) who work alongside OCTs in the Kindergarten program. The AECEO wrote to Minister Lecce to express our deep concern with his statement, in which he failed "to appropriately identify ECEs in their important and legislated role in the Kindergarten teaching partnership."
We find Minister Lecce's comment detrimental and hurtful, as it makes "the ethically and socially important work of ECEs and their contributions to children, families, and their teaching partners invisible. This dedicated, predominantly female workforce expresses that their work is often undervalued and unappreciated, which is then confirmed by the deep disparity in remuneration and working conditions they experience in the school system."
"Early childhood educators deserve better. They deserve respect and recognition. Specifically, they deserve this from the Minister of Education." We've called on Minister Lecce to apologize to ECEs in Ontario. We encourage you to send your own email to Minister Lecce at email@example.com or Minister.EDU@ontario.ca.
Read the AECEO's full letter here.
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The AECEO is very proud to be co-hosting a lecture and discussion from 7-9pm on the 15th of January at Centre for Social Innovation (Annex)720 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2R4
Or join us online, with the opportunity to participate fully in this event, by registering here.
We know that for children, parents and educators alike, childcare in Ontario is in a state of crisis: fees are too high, spaces too few and educators are often underpaid and undervalued. Now Ontario faces new threats of funding cuts and deregulation. Is this acceptable for the children, educators and our future? How can families and educators mount an effective campaign for positive change?
This presentation and discussion provides a glimpse into other possibilities for the care of young children in our province. Join Kari Eide , an early childhood educator from Norway, as she shares her experience from the Barnehageopprør (Kindergarten Uprising) in Norway – a successful movement preventing the erosion of early learning and child care services in her country. Kari will share how she channeled her outrage as an educator resisting neoliberal policy measures into a coordinated, large-scale movement. Learn how campaigners drew on new and innovative strategies to band together educators, parents and children.
This presentation and discussion offer a space to consider how this successful campaign in be relevant and/or useful as we engage in our own fight for decent work and resistance to attacks on childcare and public services more broadly in Ontario.
Find tickets for this extraordinary opportunity to learn (and to participate in no-cost CPL) HERE
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The Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario has been invited to participate in the Ministry of Education’s newly established Cross-Sectoral Early Years and Child Care Advisory Group. The Advisory Group will be made up of representatives from some stakeholders groups across the sector and will be tasked with identifying the potential implications of Ministry of Education decision-making on key areas of policy related to early years and child care.