ECEs care about our children.
All children have a right to quality early learning and child care. Early childhood educators (ECEs) provide quality care and enriching learning experiences that support children’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.
Quality early learning and child care lays the foundation for health, well-being and success in life. It fosters children’s creativity and curiosity. It develops language and problem-solving skills. It helps children appreciate different people and different cultures. It nurtures resiliency, determination, self-confidence and self-worth. It values children as our youngest citizens. And it makes learning fun.
ECEs support families.
Early childhood educators understand that parents, families and communities play an important role in a child’s learning and development. ECEs understand that families come in all shapes and sizes. And they value different family cultures, languages and experiences.
ECEs work hand-in-hand with parents. They respect parents as children’s first and most important teachers. They build relationships. They engage parents as partners in their children’s learning. They help parents raise healthy, confident, well-rounded children.
ECEs need our respect.
Alberta’s early childhood educators are undervalued and underpaid. Low wages make it hard for programs to attract and retain qualified staff. Low wages and long work days also make it hard for ECEs to invest in their education. Today 41% of ECEs have a two-year post-secondary diploma; 43% have a 54-hour online course.
ECEs are not babysitters. Many are highly skilled professionals. For ECEs to be effective in their role, they need specialized post-secondary early childhood education. They need mentorship and ongoing learning to keep current with research and best practices. They need supportive workplaces that give them time to work with families and time to plan the best learning approaches for each child. They need decent wages. And they need to be respected and valued for the important work they do.
ECEs need support too.
High-quality early learning and child care depends on well-qualified, caring early childhood educators. AECEA surveys show that ECEs are keen to develop their knowledge and skills. They need financial support and clear learning pathways to help them reach their educational goals.
Increasing education standards is one step toward higher quality child care, better wages, better working conditions and better outcomes for ECEs and for the children and families they serve. Building and planning a publicly managed system of quality early learning and child care needs input from various stakeholders. Governments, post-secondary institutions, ECEs, their employers, parents and the public all have a role to play.
Quality early learning and child care is a public good that must be publicly managed and supported by public investment.
It is a critical piece of Alberta’s social infrastructure. It’s key to our economic recovery and the future health and well-being of all Albertans.