New teaching network a win for early childhood educators, quality child care

Katrina Chen

BRITISH Columbia’s early childhood educators (ECEs) will now benefit from an expanded professional development program geared to exploring the latest child care teaching philosophies, curriculums and techniques.

Run by the Early Childhood Pedagogy Network (ECPN), a $2-million investment allows 32 teaching specialists – known as pedagogists – to be hired around the province. This improves access to professional development for ECEs and boosts the quality of child care for children and families.

Each pedagogist will work with up to 45 ECEs in their area through community hubs at eight post-secondary institutions, 10 child care referral centres and seven Indigenous communities, in partnership with the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society.

The program is a partnership between the Province and researchers at Capilano University and Western University in Ontario. It puts B.C. on the map as one of only two provinces in Canada offering this kind of support to ECEs.

“A commitment to quality care is at the heart of our Childcare BC plan. By bringing together ECEs to share their experiences and learn from others, we can boost the quality of child care for families throughout B.C.,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, on Monday. “Our government is committed to helping our early care and learning professionals succeed. Programs, such as this one, are making a career as an ECE more desirable and sustainable, and bring change to a sector that has been ignored for too long.”

The program expands professional learning opportunities from one-time training opportunities, such as workshops, to continuous learning, where professional development is done daily and in the context of individual child care programs.

“As a former ECE, I know that my learning didn’t stop when I graduated. Every day, I was adapting and refining my techniques to provide better care for the families I served,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “This network will help ECEs to collaborate, learn from each other and bring new early learning theories to their practice, making it easier for families to pursue their own education and careers, knowing that their kids are being nurtured and inspired during their time in child care.”

Investing in child care and early childhood education is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo, noted: “More ECEs in Nanaimo mean increased support for our children to grow and thrive. ECEs create programs that inspire kids and nurture a love of learning.”

Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with and learn from Dr. Pacini-Ketchabaw and her colleagues, and I am delighted this program is moving forward. The early learning years are vitally important, as are the educators who teach and nurture B.C.’s youngest. We cannot just focus on the number of child care spaces we create. Though that is important – we must always be mindful of fostering and improving quality. I’m confident this program will do just that.”

Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, co-director, B.C. ECPN, said: “We want to create a system where ECE programs are developed within local communities to respond to the specific needs of that area. This network will provide professional learning that’s practical and grounded in the challenges and opportunities ECEs face. By providing this funding, the government is helping create a unified early learning and child care system where all B.C. children can flourish.”

To learn more about the Early Care and Learning Recruitment and Retention Strategy, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/childcare/ecestrategy

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