Lots of big feelings going on in early childhood educator groups right now! Lots of talk about unions and walk outs and advocating for the poor treatment ECE face in the field!
With the current model of childcare I just want to share that ECE need to be careful what they wish for!
The College of ECE is also a prime example of the advise “be careful what you wish for”!
ECE had fought for decades to get one cause the field thought that is what we were missing on the path to being valued and respected like Teachers - Teachers have one so should we they argued. It will raise the bar and prevent unprofessional ECE from just moving centre to centre spreading their negativity and poor behaviour! We will finally be seen as professional. Yet the reality is that majority of public has no clue we even have a College more than a decade in and when it comes to regulating the industry if you look at the disciplinary records you have to basically REPEATEDLY abuse children to have your ability to practice completely removed - too many brought up for having slapped, dragged and sat on children to manage their behaviours and they get a tap on wrist of a suspension, a fine and behaviour and guidance training and back to the front line they go because there are so FEW of us left they want to keep trying to raise the bar with people who shouldn’t really be working in the field at all but when other RECE keep seeing these people returned to the front line they just stop reporting because they don’t see the point cause it’s stressful to report a colleague and the drama that’s created in ones program 😞 Plus in my view many centres management still do their best to sweep problem staff under the rug because they don’t want to publicly be on record for having hired people that turned out to do crap like that under their nose so they still quietly let those types go and move on to be someone else’s problem. So now we are all paying $160 for a College we feel failed in providing what we thought it would.
Be careful what you wish for is the same feeling I get in my gut when I see so many ECE advocating to get a Union in their centre or thinking they can just unionize the entire industry despite that not being how unions work - they can only unionize those under one employer so each individual centre would be a tiny little union of their 5-15 RECE depending on licensing capacity - so they need to truly be careful what you wish for cause union dues are gonna be way more than the College fees they hate paying and the reality is that a union cannot get blood from a stone!
Look at how poorly EA and ECE working in a unionized school board setting are treated - they are unionized and still paid barely a living wage, still not getting adequate prep time and most are constantly keep on contract vs getting full time permanent cause it saves boards money - been over 10 years of negotiations for RECE there and not much progress despite the huge dues they have to pay 😉
Fact is we are not poorly paid because we are like the auto industry where some CEO is off making millions off us and share holders need their piece of the pie too and while we do similar work the reality is we are not like teachers working in the public school system where they have the collective pockets of tax payers to cover the rising cost of teachers wages and other perks they’ve fought decades for .... the stone cold fact is that childcare is funded primarily on the backs of the families we serve and THAT is why we are low paid because families with young children are already stretched so thin with rising costs of living including that of childcare that a household income of $80,000 is now the cut off for being able to access fee subsidy towards childcare! More than double it was in the past decades cause I remember when it was $30,000 that was the cut off to access it.
Go ahead and form a union at your centre but go into with your eyes open that until there is a HUGE change in the way that childcare is funded you could be spending hundreds in dues annually for no real gain OR you can find that your program administration decides that it’s just not a feasible option to remain open and find yourself closed .... look at how many unionized childcare positions have been lost over the past 30 years! When I was an ECE student EVERY college and university campus that offered early childhood studies had their own on site lab schools with unionized well paid educators as part of their staff - how many are left in Ontario? So many regions also had their own childcare programs they ran with unionized staff - how many are left in Ontario? When local regional governments decide that they cannot continue to run a region funded childcare program that had unionized staff so pays fair equitable wages and benefits because it’s constantly in the red and having to take money from other places cause they can’t raise fees to clients any higher than they have without parents just saying “might as well stay home and provide care myself” than how are small individual childcares or even the chains that unionize going to be able to magically do better 😞
Do they still require ECE students to design and build and formulate a realistic operating budget for opening a childcare in College - cause when you do that you quickly see there is no PROFIT in childcare programs - your revenue is capped by licensed capacity and the wages you can pay by the overhead required to provide the program including paying whomever “oversees” it be it a non profit director or an owner and wage that makes taking on that kind of responsibility and risk viable for them! Non profits do have an advantage to typically pay better because being a charitable organization they can often get reduction in rent, phone and other utilities as the service providers can claim that reduction as a charitable donation. But reality is that despite the demand for childcare very few people are willing to donate the time, energy and resources to open new childcare spaces because the fact is it’s TOO HARD and most people don’t want to “volunteer” the time it would take to fundraising and sit on committees for the non profit sector and for the private sector you can invest the same money in opening a Tim Hortons chain and it provides an actual return in investment and profit - which is why there is a Tim Hortons on every corner and not a childcare centre 😞
Early years matter but is there just possibly a better system we could be advocating for?
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