The Early Years, The Ignored Years
The recent teachers strike has brought forward much needed attention to the poor conditions our school aged children are experiencing in classrooms throughout B.C. A situation which pains and unites parents and professionals working with children across many disciplines, including Early Childhood Educators. Without diverting concern from these valid points, I will take the opportunity to add to that, the ongoing crisis experienced by children of the early years.
Before entering school, children aged newborn to 5 years, in the prime of their brain development, are subjected to the childcare “non-system” if, like the majority of B.C. families, their parents both work, and that is, if they are lucky enough to be one of the 20% of children who can find a space in a quality, regulated program, and if their parents can afford the hefty price tag, cheaper only next to their mortgage payment each month. Some quick and simple math clearly shows that in the span of a child’s first 5 years the costs of their fulltime child care fee’s come out costing more than post secondary tuition- a fact most parents are not aware of or prepared for. Unlike the education system, childcare is not being funded within an infrastructure to support it, meaning the services are, however well intentioned, very fragmented and fragile to the economic temperatures, among many other things, furthering the likelihood that services will not exist where they might be needed most.
For such a depended upon sector in our province, it is amazing not profit childcare societies have managed to survive this long, given their structure is constructed mainly from that of a charity model making fundraising efforts heavily relied upon for revenue. Early Care and Learning Programs serve children at the most developmentally vulnerable time in their lives, shouldn’t ECE’s be freed from fundraising and infrastructure concerns in order to be further present and focused on fulfilling the needs of children and families? How would our school-aged children’s education look if it were managed as the non-system of childcare?
Imagine for a moment how much more attention might have been grabbed, if on top of the teachers strike, Early Care and Learning Centre’s joined the effort and closed their doors too. As bad as we might agree the education system has gotten, Early Childhood Educators are hopeful that one day we too can belong to such a ministry as education. Because as cracked and broken of a system as it may seem, in it’s basic existence it consists of unity, and a framework from which to work, make change and give voice, something ECE’s have always operated without. To support ECE’s in the effort to Legislate an Early Care and Learning Act for BC, to include childcare under the Ministry of Education please endorse The Plan.
ECE and Mom of Three