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.
While we work to give a voice to the collective sector, individual voices bring strength to our work and our community. With that in mind we are asking that you take 3 steps to positively influence change that will support the safety and well-being of children, families, and educators from reopening to recovery.
Step 1: Use your social media presence to advocate for child care. Either tweet directly, eg:
@Sfleece @fordnation @RodPhillips01 Your #childcare plan is not good enough - we said a safe and caring reopening takes time + funding - children and #ECEs deserve better #ListenUpLecce #SafeReopening #FundChildcare #ECEPower #FordFailsFamilies
Or share why you became and ECE, and how reopening will affect your practice, eg:
#ListenUpLecce, I became an #ECE because I wanted to create an inclusive environment for children to be curious and full of wonder. That can only happen with time and funding for #safereopening.
In either case please use the hashtags #ListenUpLecce #FordFailsFamilies #SafeReopening #FundChildcare #ECEPower.
Step 2: To make informed decisions about child care, MPPs need to hear from you. A letter that shares your experience, expertise, and unique perspective is an effective advocacy tool. Be sure to tell your MPP that you are their constituent - it is their job to listen to you. It is your story that moves people to action and gets the attention of your MPP. Your letter can also emphasize the recommendations in the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care report From Reopening to Recovery: A Plan for Child Care Reopening in Ontario. Find a fillable template with prompts to include your own experience here, or PDF here. Find your MPP and contact information here.
Step 3: Meeting with and contacting your MPP is one of the most effective advocacy tactics available, particularly if your meeting is part of a wider grassroots campaign, like ours, taking place across the province. Politicians and their staff assume that for every person they meet with on an issue, there are dozens of others in the community who share these concerns. An email requesting a meeting with your MPP might look like the example below, and you can find a fillable template to write your own request letter and state your own perspective and concerns here, or PDF here. Find the OCBCC's tool kit on meeting your MPP here.
Dear (MPP’s name),
My name is (your name) and I live in your riding and work as an Early Childhood Educator. I am part of a broad coalition of parents, educators and organizations concerned about policy and practices during the Child Care reopening process. A particular concern of mine is protecting the health and safety of educators such as myself who are immune compromised. Educators who are over the age of 60 and are at a higher risk of detrimental outcomes from COVID-19 should also be protected.
Throughout my 30 year career I have taught generations of children and worked continuously for their families. This work has been a joy and a privilege and I want nothing more than to return to the child care centre I love so much. However, in order for me to do this safely for myself and the children in my care there must be clear provincial guidelines put in place to protect educators in my situation.
Recommendation number thirteen of the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care report From Reopening to Recovery: A Plan for Child Care Reopening in Ontario and Moving Towards a Publicly Funded System requires that the Ministry of Education provide clear guidelines for educators in my situation.
I would like to arrange a video call with you and my neighbours/ colleagues (Insert names of neighbours or colleagues). We would like to share our concerns as parents/educators/childcare allies (choose whichever apply) particularly regarding this concern. We would also like to share our expertise and perspective on this issue and ask for your personal commitment to take action to protect your constituents.
Here are some dates and times that I/we are available to meet (insert dates and times). Please let me know if any of these are acceptable to you; otherwise please respond with alternatives.
I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Lastly, we know this is a challenging time for so many, but as membership based organisations, it is support from educators and allies like you that allows us to do our work. If you can, please consider becoming a member or donating to the OCBCC and the AECEO today.