I do not identify as an elementary school teacher. But, I hold my BFA, my ECE, my ITE and my masters in education (listed in the order I received them). I teach children. I follow a learning framework, I program plan, I document and engage in pedagogical narrations, I assess child learning. I meet every definition and professional competency of a BCTF teacher but any fight to “equalize” ECE with an elementary school teacher is deeply flawed because it ignores the rest of my job that is not a part of being a teacher; it ignores the vital aspects of my job that are integral to early childhood education and care.
I do not identify as a social worker. But, I refer families in crisis to support agencies, I participate in family case conferences, I identify vulnerable families and children and try to provide supports and referrals when they are available. I have done home visits. I have sat and cried together with parents. I have run parenting workshops. I have put together safety plans for children and parents. I have done safe walks after programs end at the end of the day, I have sourced food and clothing for families in need. I complete subsidy applications, housing applications and any other government form that can provide families with some support. I help people navigate a system that is incredibly broken and flawed and excludes so many minority voices. To place me, as an ECE, within MCFD places me within a bureaucratic history of family separation, racism and inequality, where many parents have deep rooted distrust, and can undermine the work that I do.
I do not identify as a medical professional. But, I work collaboratively with OT, PT, SLP, feeding specialists, pediatricians and psychiatrists. I administer medications. I follow medical care plans for my clients; I complete medical administration records. I apply assessment tools such as the ASQ together with parents as the first steps to determine delays or differences. I provide intervention strategies to help with delayed development at home, and I repeat as a brilliant ECE so often told me “in time not on time”. I monitor new moms for signs of post partum depression and anxiety. I work with parents and children with feeding and sleep struggles. I work under a trauma informed, patient centred care model that recognizes the family unit as the focus for care - not just the child; not just the parents. But to place me under the ministry of health places me in a space that evaluates child/family as “healthy” “sick”; that tends to be reactionary rather than proactive, that is rooted in a medical, westernized dominant discourse.
Politicians, advocates and parents in BC are slinging words such as “broken” “chaotic” and “fractured” child care system. They have appealed (for political reasons, for financial reasons) to move child care to the ministry of education. And ECEs been asked the carefully tweaked questions that are designed to provide a specific answer. But we haven’t been asked for ideas and options, haven’t had a chance to describe how we identify as professionals - describe, rather than select from predetermined checkboxes.
I speak for myself, and those who have signed this petition only:
I identify as an early childhood educator. I sit at the intersection of health, education and social work. My profession should not be housed in any one of these ministries, as to do so ignores and undermines the complexity of early childhood care and education. My profession should not be factured within three ministries as to continue this way leads to underfunding, ignoring, and overlooking.
ECEBC and the BC Coalition of Child Care Advocates: this is your chance to take a groundbreaking step for ECE's in Canada: you could take up a call for a Ministry of Childcare in BC and recognize the importance, complexity and entirety of what early childhood educators do.
Premier Horgan, MLA Wilkinson, Dr Weaver, Minister Fleming, Minister Chen, Minister Conroy, MLA Throness, MLA Furstenau: do something different. Something important. Something innovative. Recognize the importance of early childhood care and education. Create a new Ministry of Childcare for British Columbia.