Posted: Mar 2, 2022 | By: Communications
Community Children’s Centre to Reopen Full-Time This Year
Following the collective effort of district staff, Council and community members, the Community Children’s Centre is preparing for a gradual reopening after successfully recruiting through the paid education program launched last year.
In June 2021, the Community Children’s Centre closed in the afternoons due to reduced staff levels. This decision ensured licensing rations were maintained while prioritizing children and employees’ health and safety, and quality of care.
Following this reduction in hours, recruitment remained active with job postings advertised at multiple Early Childhood Educator granting educational institutions, regional employment centres, Early Childhood Educators of BC, and through the District's website and social media channels throughout 2021. Despite providing housing options during a large part of this recruitment period, this effort was unsuccessful.
In July 2021, the District announced additional actions to support hiring efforts and increase staff retention. These included:
- Developing a training program providing paid education opportunities in early childhood education.
- Conducting a service level review, including identifying and tracking service standards and adjusting staffing resources and reporting relationships as needed.
- Exploring options for cost-effective child care offerings by working collaboratively with community partners to advocate for funding and support from the provincial and federal governments.
In line with Council's strategic priority to increase access to affordable and high-quality child care, Council approved and strongly supported the allocation of local tax dollars to recruit and train successful candidates to become certified as Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and Early Childhood Educator Assistants (ECE As). These positions successfully recruited three local individuals for the training programs: one in the ECE certificate program and two in the ECE As certificate program. The Community Children's Centre will gradually reopen as the new staff become trained in their roles, planning to return to full-time hours this year.
Tofino Mayor Dan Law
"I am very pleased that district staff and Council have taken, and will continue to take, significant steps to address ongoing Community Children's Centre challenges. I thank community members for their patience during these difficult times, and as the pandemic eases and district efforts begin to bear fruit, I look forward to a vibrant and renewed district led early childhood education program.”
Last week, the Province announced plans to invest in early childhood educators. These plans include:
- $25.5 million to continue providing ECE student bursaries for the next three to four years;
- $11.6 million to support the development and delivery of a recruitment and retention incentive program to encourage new ECEs who become certified through the ECE Registry to work in the sector, and to improve information and understanding about ECE retention;
- $7.5 million in professional development, inclusion support and deaf/hard-of-hearing training, and peer mentoring, including $3 million to be funded through West Coast Child Care Resource Centre for bursaries to assist child care professionals in accessing affordable professional learning;
- $2.3 million toward a work-integrated approach that gives ECE students the opportunity to become certified while maintaining employment as a child care professional;
- $1.15 million for the dual credit program so high school students can more quickly get their ECE certification (with the Province contributing an additional $575,000 in 2021-22); and
- $750,000 to translate francophone ECE credentials or those from other countries to help certify new British Columbians to work as ECEs.
Emily Gawlick, executive director, Early Childhood Educators of BC
“For too long, investments in early childhood education weren’t a priority in B.C. and it’s led to a significant shortage of ECEs. We welcome these supports and professional development opportunities by both levels of government to help build the strong ECE professional workforce needed to effectively provide families with quality, inclusive and culturally safe child care in B.C. We look forward to continued work with government on ensuring ECEs have the supports they need to succeed.”
Following the success of our local program and the new funding from the Province, the District can continue to offer educational opportunities for ECEs and ECE As to support continuity in staffing levels at the Centre and other daycares within the region. This will ensure a successful and sustainable community child care service for years to come.
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