The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta (AECEA) is the professional organization that represents early childhood educators in the province of Alberta. We stand strong alongside our early childhood educators during this difficult time.
On March 15, 2020, The Government of Alberta mandated that all licensed child care centres, preschools, and out of school care programs close their doors to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We understand this was a difficult decision to make, but a necessary one. Approved day homes have been allowed to stay in operation, caring for limited numbers of children. We appreciate the government’s quick response to this pandemic and the Minister of Children’s Services’ ongoing efforts to keep the sector informed through emails and town halls.
We understand that the government is currently in the process of reopening select child care centres to care for children of essential service workers (front line health care workers and first responders). This is important as we need these vital services to care for the citizens of Alberta. Recognising the importance of this strategy and valuing the work people are doing frontline, please consider that reopening child care centres for emergency relief will put a lot of pressure on the centres that have been selected and have agreed to participate. They will be bringing in new children and families into spaces that may be unfamiliar. Early childhood educators will be leaving their own families at home to provide this care and then putting their loved ones at higher risk each day when they return home.
We know from previous disaster events, such as the Fort McMurray fires of 2016, that this can put a mental and physical strain on the children, families, early childhood educators, and directors. Mental health supports should be in place to offer strategies to ensure that all parties can cope with additional stress.
We are calling on the government to put in additional supports for child care centres that are providing emergency relief, just as other provinces have begun to do. These centres need support and tools to care for these children. Some regions are also offering child care for free to the essential service workers. These workers are making a huge sacrifice for the greater good of our province and deserve to receive these services for free. We are also asking the government to put in other support measures for early childhood educators working in the emergency relief centres, educators working in approved family day homes, centres that have been mandatorily closed, and early childhood educators that are out of work due to closure.
To view the full paper, including AECEA's recommendations to government through this crisis, go here.