October 2020 will mark the expiry of Alberta’s 2007 Child Care Licensing Act and regulations. Much has changed since this legislation came into force. A large and growing body of research has accumulated on the importance of high-quality early learning and child care care—not just for children and families, but for the enormous benefit it has for economies, communities and societies.
Well-qualified, caring early childhood educators are the prime determinant of a quality child care system, and education is the prime determinant of qualified early childhood educators. Sadly, the educational preparation of Alberta’s early learning and child care workforce is well below international standards.
In many countries, early childhood educators must have at least a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field. A two-year diploma in early learning and child care is widely accepted as a bare minimum requirement.
In Alberta, only 43% of early childhood educators have a two-year diploma, and for a significant portion of this group, the diploma does not relate to early learning and child care. Forty per cent of early childhood educators have only a 54-hour child care orientation course. Most of Alberta’s early childhood educators have few opportunities for ongoing professional development. All work for low wages in challenging environments—often without health or disability benefits, paid vacations or pension plans, and often with little respect for the important work they do.
This is not good enough. And it’s not right.
The upcoming review of Alberta’s child care licensing legislation provides an opportunity for positive change. Legislating higher qualification standards and supports for early childhood educators can help to build an effective, high-quality early learning and child care system that gives Alberta’s children the best possible start in life.
The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta has three priorities for much-needed legislative changes that will support the province’s early childhood educators:
raising education and education-related standards
legislating mandatory ongoing professional learning
adopting Alberta’s early learning curriculum framework, Flight, within all licensed and approved early learning and child care programs in the province
This paper makes the case for quality and the case for change.
To view the report, go here.