The decline in the number of early childhood care (ECC) educators in recent years is raising concerns about the future of ECC education.
ECC education plays a crucial role in the development of children, and the decline in the number of qualified ECC educators is a cause for concern.
Tonja Armstrong-MacInnis, the interim director of Humber Child Development Centre, is concerned about the decline in ECC educators.
“It’s a worrying trend that we’re seeing in the industry,” she said. “The demand for ECC educators has dropped significantly in recent years, and this has made it difficult for many professionals to find work.”
According to the Early Childhood Education Workforce report, of the 58,867 ECEs registered with Ontario’s College of Early Childhood Educators, 44 per cent do not work in licensed child care.
The median hourly wage for staff working in licensed childcare in Canada is $20, and one-third of the licensed childcare workforce receives no health benefits.
The report said 41 per cent receive no paid personal leave.
Armstrong-MacInnis said the decline in ECC educators can be attributed to a lack of funding for early childhood education programs.
“Many early childhood education programs are underfunded, which makes it difficult for them to offer competitive wages and benefits to their employees,” she said. “This, however, has been recently amended with the new agreement of Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care.”
The Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement (CWELCC) is a commitment by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work together to ensure that all Canadian children have access to high-quality, affordable, and inclusive early learning and childcare services.
The agreement recognizes that early childhood education and care are essential for children’s healthy development, and that access to affordable and high-quality child care is a fundamental right.
The federal government will work collaboratively with provinces and territories to create a national system of early learning and child care that is comprehensive, accessible and affordable.
The agreement will provide $27.2 billion over the next five years to support the implementation of this system.
In addition to funding, the agreement includes a set of guiding principles that will shape the development of the childcare system.
These principles include promoting quality and standards, building capacity and sustainability, and supporting the inclusion of children with diverse needs.
“This is not only to build more childcare spaces but also increase workforce compensation,” Armstrong-MacInnis said.
Although the CWELCC supports ECC educators, Armstrong-MacInnis also pointed to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the overall problem.
“The pandemic has resulted in many child care centres and schools being closed or operating at reduced capacity,” she said. “This has led to a decrease in demand for ECC educators, which has made it even more challenging for professionals to find work.”
Without adequate funding and support for early childhood education programs, there is a risk of losing qualified and trained professionals in this field.
“ECC educators are essential in helping young children develop essential skills and knowledge that will help them succeed in later life,” Armstrong-MacInnis said. “Without qualified and trained ECC educators, we risk depriving our children of the education and support they need to develop.”
Allocating the necessary resources for the children of today will manifest itself in the lives of tomorrow’s children, she said.
“Investing in early childhood education is an investment in the future of our children and our society,” Armstrong-MacInnis said.