Opinion

Daycare much more than ‘glorified babysitting’

Dear editor,

Regarding the editorial Daycare payout not well thought out by government (Aug. 7).

While I am sure that it was not the intention of this editorial to slam child care, as a professional early childhood educator, I feel compelled to reply.

Child care is this province’s largest family support program. As of 2008, there were 87,538 licensed child care spaces in B.C. - yet this represents approximately enough spaces for only 20 per cent of B.C.’s children. Our province ranks last among developed countries in supporting early care and learning programs for our youngest citizens. For many families, the cost of child care is second only to rent or mortgage payments and for families with two or more children, it is the highest expense (and there is no RESP for that!). In addition, 22 per cent of B.C.’s children live below the poverty line. We are well beyond the age where we need to argue that high quality, accessible and affordable child care benefits not only children and families, but also our economy, our school system and society as a whole.

So who is caring for our children? In regulated, licensed group centres and licensed family child care programs, children are educated and cared for by a specialized workforce. Qualified ECEs have specific college and university-based education in all aspects of healthy child development, including supporting children with special needs. They provide safe and engaging environments that encourage curiosity, inquiry and promote positive attitudes towards lifelong learning. So much more than “glorified babysitting”, and yet ECEs are among the lowest paid professionals.

While recognizing that there is a crisis in our school system, I feel the need to shout that there has been a crisis in the field of early care and learning for decades.

We are critically under-funded and sadly under-supported. But there is a solution! The Early Childhood Educators of B.C. and the Child Care Advocates of B.C. have presented a well researched and comprehensive plan of action - the $10 a Day Child Care Plan. (www.ecebc.ca).

And so, in the event that school does not resume on time in September (and I truly hope that it does, with an agreement that is fair to teachers and children), we, as early childhood educators, will be there to support children and families in any way we can. Just please...don’t call us babysitters.

Charlene Gray

Comox

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