AECEO Milestones


AECEO History – A Review of Our Milestones


Throughout its history, the AECEO has organized and administered important developments in Early Childhood Education (ECE) in the areas of training, public awareness, certification, equivalency, networking, professional development and recognition for the profession.



1950 - The Nursery Education Association of Ontario (NEAO) was established. It responded to the absence of government regulation and formal facilities for training in early childhood studies for day nursery staff. Among its first founding members was staff from University of Toronto Institute of Child Studies Laboratory School, a leading edge nursery school program influenced by the teachings of U of T Professor, William Blatz, a world renowned pioneer in early childhood research and practice. NEAO was also a founding member of the World Organization for Preschool Education (OMEP), the working committee of UNESCO in preschool education.

1950-65 – NEAO initiated the first university extension course and the first diploma course at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute for preschool teachers. Under NEAO sponsorship, the program expanded to six Ontario universities that began offering evening and summer training programs for those already working in the field.

1964 - NEAO established a voluntary Certification Process for preschool teachers. This process recognized and encouraged achievement both in training and preschool teaching. Certificates were awarded to applicants who achieved the required level of training, and whose work in the preschool field was evaluated over a required period of time by certified colleagues. Applicants with out-of-province and out-of-country credentials were required to undergo a “Pre-Certification” process to obtain an AECEO letter of equivalency prior to applying for certification.

1969 - NEAO assisted in moving the preschool training from University extension courses to newly established Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology to make it more accessible. ECE diploma programs were offered in many community colleges across the province.

NEAO officially changed its name to the Association of Early Childhood Education Ontario (AECEO) to better reflect the scope of its work.

1970s – AECEO continued to evaluate advanced courses in Early Childhood Education, publishing an approved listing of courses in its newsletters. AECEO strongly believed in ongoing learning and strongly advocated for community colleges to offer post diploma courses specializing in areas such as special needs, music, art and management.

1980 AECEO launched “Week of the Child”, an annual public education campaign to raise awareness of the value of Early Childhood Education and educators.

1982 – AECEO launched the Margaret Fletcher Award Program in honour of this long-standing member and her work in early childhood education.  The award, given annually, recognized innovative early childhood education programs in Ontario.

1983 – AECEO published a Child Abuse Handbook for ECEs with a grant from the Ministry of Community and Social Services. It has since been revised with the title “A Child in Need of Protection: A handbook for Early Childhood Educators”. In February 2021 the AECEO discontinued publishing the handbook due to concerns about its content and issued a Statement on Child Protection.

1984 The Pre-Certification Process was changed to Equivalency Process through the formation of an Equivalency Committee. This committee’s work focused on the evaluation and creation of a process that will assess credentials of non-OCAAT (Ontario College of Applied Arts and Technology), out-of-province and out-of-country trained individuals.

1989 AECEO established a Legislative Recognition committee to advocate for the creation of a professional regulatory body for ECEs in Ontario. AECEO spearheaded a feasibility and needs study, surveying professionals and child care organizations across the province.

1990 AECEO Equivalency Process evolved to include services in both official languages, French and English. AECEO published a list of Canadian post secondary programs whose graduates were eligible to receive AECEO “Recognition of Equivalency Certificates”. The Ministry of Community and Social Services recognized the AECEO’s role in credential evaluation and provided a subsidy grant to the Association to reduce fees for applicants applying for Equivalency. Ministry program advisors began to use AECEO Automatic Equivalent listing of Canadian ECE programs to evaluate staff qualifications for licensing purposes.

1994 AECEO revised its Code of Ethics, a set of values and principles by which ECEs are asked to adhere to in their practice. A grant was received from MCSS to print and distribute copies of the Code of Ethics to all licensed programs across Ontario. It continues to be used as the ethical standard in ECE training institutions and child care programs.

1995 French services for the AECEO’s Equivalency Process were transferred to l’AFESEO (L’Association francophone à l’éducation des services à l’enfance de l’Ontario) to deliver in the province of Ontario.

1996 Private members bill to establish a College of Early Childhood Educators was first presented at legislature. Though this attempt was unsuccessful, AECEO continued to lobby for a College. The AECEO Certification Process gained momentum as professionals registered to demonstrate their commitment to standards of practice and be part of a professional registry. AECEO changed its name to “Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario” to reflect its new role as the professional association and voluntary regulatory body for Early Childhood Educators in Ontario.

2000 AECEO celebrated its 50th Anniversary at their annual conference in Niagara attracting, as it has in the past five decades, hundreds of provincial, national and international delegates.

2002 Legislative Recognition committee regrouped and reasserted through educational presentations and campaigns the need for a College of ECE.

2004 - AECEO Program Accreditation was launched in response to the need to update the AECEO automatic equivalent listing and the growing number of non-OCAAT ECE programs requesting recognition. "AECEO ECE Accredited Programs” met AECEO Standards of Equivalency. Graduates are recognized by the AECEO as having gained valid credentials similar vocationally to an OCAAT ECE diploma, enabling them to work as ECEs in licensed settings in Ontario. In 2006, Mothercraft Toronto ECE diploma program received the first AECEO Accredited Program status.

AECEO publishes a position statement on universality, supporting the principle that expansion of early learning and child care services in Ontario should be confined to the non-profit sector.

2005 – The Common Table for Childhood Development and Care is formed by the AECEO, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), Ontario Association of Family Resource Programs (OAFRP), Home Child Care Association of Ontario (HCCAO), Ontario Early Years Centre Network (OEYCN) and Middle Years Matter Coalition (MYMC).  Established to promote collaboration in advocacy and delivery of services to children and families in Ontario, the six founding partners establish and form the Steering Committee, and promote a collaborative membership model. The Common Table has since grown to include 22 provincial members.

2006 - AECEO launched Access to the ECE field in Ontario, a project funded by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration to provide internationally trained ECEs and kindergarten/elementary teachers a pathway to certification. This three-year pilot project, first offered in Toronto, expands to include Ottawa and Peel region. The project exceeded its target (of 30) in the first year by engaging 180 participants. A new course, “ECE in Canadian Context”, was developed and launched as part of this program. The project and its practices, become integrated into the AECEO Equivalency Process.

AECEO collaborated with Common Table Steering Committee Members on the coordination of a provincial forum on services to children and families.

AECEO co-hosted its annual provincial conference with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, a first for both organizations.

2007 AECEO was invited by Minister Mary Ann Chambers to speak at a press conference during her announcement of the successful passing of legislation to establish the College of Early Childhood Educators.

AECEO signed a service agreement with MCYS to provide Equivalency services for Early Childhood Educators in the province of Ontario.

2008 LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) and AECEO developed a one-day employment training seminar for LINC child minders using the ECE in the Canadian context course. LINC programs support newcomer families.

AECEO received a Sector Initiative Funding grant to develop a training module on the Day Nurseries Act for ECEs working in the field.

The Fairness Commissioners Office audited AECEO’s Equivalency Process and declared it an example of best practices standards.

AECEO in collaboration with community colleges and organizations coordinated province wide Institutes on “Empowering” the profession with a special focus on the new College of ECE.   

2009 – AECEO received funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to launch a Leadership and Capacity Building project to engage AECEO members and stakeholders in a consultative process during Spring 2009, and reported on project outcomes in the Fall 2009 eceLINK. (The OTF is an agency of the Government of Ontario.)

College of ECE is granted permission to use the AECEO Code of Ethics in the development of their own document.

AECEO continued their province-wide Institutes focusing specifically on the implementation of the Early Learning Advisor’s report on early learning programs for four –and-five-year-olds.  Over 30 organizations and colleges collaborated on the coordination of the Institutes, with 1600 delegates attended these events.

2010 – AECEO proudly celebrated its milestone 60th Anniversary on November 6, 2010.

AECEO initiated a strategic renewal process to evaluate its vision, values, mission and goals to ensure the organization continues to play an important role for early childhood educators and the early learning sector.

AECEO’s equivalency and credential assessment process came to an end after almost half a century.  This responsibility was transferred to the College of Early Childhood Educators on December 31, 2010.  AECEO Letters of Equivalency certificates issued on or before February 23, 2014 will continue to be recognized by the College.

AECEO received funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to continue its Leadership and Capacity Building project.

New mission statement was unanimously passed at the 2010 conference in Hamilton Ontario.

2012 –In January a comprehensive review of the AECEO certification process began in response to the many changes happening in the ECE sector.

Branch Rejuvenation plan launched.

2013- Professional Pay for Professional Work campaign to improve compensation for RECEs launched at the AECEO Provincial Conference in Toronto.

All active branches of the AECEO transitioned to the rejuvenated model.

AECEO took the lead in addressing principles for continuous professional learning by publishing a discussion paper for member and sector-wide feedback.

George Brown College became the first College in Ontario to partner with the AECEO to ensure student awareness and readiness for practice by facilitating 2nd year ECE students’ membership in the AECEO.

The AECEO and Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) joint proposal for a three year initiative to promote the value of licenced child care and the importance of Registered Early Childhood Educators to the delivery of a high quality program was approved by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

2014 –AECEO online learning initiative launched, including a 40 hour module on professionalism, a 20 hour module on E-Portfolios and a three-part webinar series entitled Foundations for RECE Practice in Full Day Kindergarten.

AECEO Certification Process review completed and new, updated process opened for intake.

Working with sector leaders and stakeholders the AECEO took the lead in sponsoring the development and circulation of an Open Letter addressed to the Minister of Education concerning the proposed regulatory changes (Regulation 262) to the DNA.

First AECEO online/electronic AGM and electronic/mail-in election held.

Award presented to the AECEO by George Brown College, School of Early Childhood, and the University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education for its contribution to the profession.

New, more user-friendly and comprehensive AECEO website, with increased resources, launched.

2015 - After many years of lobbying by the AECEO and other ECE sector stakeholders the Ontario Government provides a two dollar (over 2 years) wage increase for child care centre staff and licenced home child care providers.

AECEO co-hosts six Child Care Matters to Everyone regional conferences across Ontario.

AECEO launches petition calling on the government to fund professional pay for all ECEs in Ontario regardless of where they work.

AECEO discussion paper Regional Wage Scales for RECEs Working in Regulated Childcare in Ontario released.

AECEO project proposal Mobilizing the early childhood workforce in the movement for decent work approved by the Atkinson Foundation.

2016 – Ontario Government backs off on proposed changes to CCEYA ratios, group sizes and age groupings through concerted ECE community efforts led by AECEO and multiple ECE sector partners.

AECEO and project partners host mobilization forums in Sault Ste. Marie, Brantford, Scarborough, Mississauga, Whitby, Waterloo, Kingston and Sudbury to support the early childhood community in and articulating their needs and understanding of decent work.

AECEO releases “I’m more than ‘just’ an ECE”: Decent work from the perspective of Ontario’s early childhood workforce”; a report on the collective insights about decent work from the mobilization forums held in 8 communities.

Shaping Our Future: Innovation, Leadership and Advocacy provincial conference is held in conjunction with the OCBCC - commemorating the 10 year anniversary of the organizations’ first joint conference.

2017 – Over 4000 RECEs and early years staff responded to the AECEO's consultation survey that helped inform recommendations made by the AECEO's Decent Work Task Force to the Ministry of Education. The policy recommendations, Transforming Work in Ontario’s Early Years and Child Care Sector, called for a provincial wage scale with a starting/minimum wage of $25/hr.

In partnership with the Institute for Change Leaders and Olivia Chow, AECEO, OCBCC and Atkinson Centre offered Building Skills for Change leadership training in Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo Region and Thunder Bay, which led to the formation of 5 local Communities of Practice (CoPs) that work with the AECEO as decent work teams to organize and build capacity in their local communities.

AECEO made an active commitment to participate in and support the process of reconciliation with First Nation, Métis and Inuit People and communities in Ontario and across Canada. A  Guiding Committee on Truth and Reconciliation was established to share knowledge, traditions and teachings and help to inform the AECEO’s efforts.

AECEO and the eceLINK editorial committee developed a revamped and improved eceLINK that included peer reviewed articles every second issue.

2018 – Professional Pay petition reaches & surpasses goal of 10,000 signatures.

Ontario Government releases Growing Together: Ontario’s Early Years and Child Care Workforce Strategy that includes a plan to implement a wage grid for all program staff that reflects qualifications and experience.

Four hundred RECEs participate in the AECEO’s Humans of ECE campaign, inspired by the Humans of Basic Income campaign and the iconic Humans of New York social media movement, to highlight the value of ECE professionals while also raising awareness of professional pay and decent work.

2019 – Successful joint AECEO & OCBCC campaign calling on the new Ontario Government to continue the Wage Enhancement Grant garners 17,000 signatures on a hard copy petition that was presented in the Ontario Legislature 16 times.

AECEO partners with the University of Western Ontario in leading the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Early Years and Child Care and Secretariat to connect practitioners, education institutions, and employers through innovative networks across Ontario.

AECEO partners with the OCBCC on an Early Learning and Child Care Innovation project: A national network on early learning and child care human resources innovation and decent work.

2020-2021 - A Year in the Work of the AECEO