OK so despite being forced off the front line due to Covid this past year, not having yet secured a new job, or being eligible for a Vaccine to allow me to return to work on the front I opted to renew my registration with the College of ECE for one more year to see if I can secure a 'next stage' career option in that time that is not directly on the front line but still in the field I have dedicated 30 years of my life too. It was not an easy decision - I am feeling burnt out and defeated with the handling of Covid-19 in relation to the early learning and care sector! In my humble opinion the Ford government threw Early Childhood Educators and small business operators who operate early learning and care programs under the bus!
So with that decision comes a $160 bill payment for my dues at a time when I am not working and not eligible for social assistance for unemployment as I was self employed and the CERB ran out and the new program is confusing as to whether eligible for it as in 2020 I likely did not make the $5000 in self employment income due to loosing all but one client in March but still having all the same overhead of 5 children so actually am in the hole 'income' wise and than having to make the hard choice to formally close indefinitely in September in order to seek more secure income source because meeting the new Covid protocols in a home based setting is prohibitive and fear that in another lock down Ford would reinstate an Emergency fee order for anyone working from home and not using childcare as a result! .
Yet this decision has not only meant direct financial hardship it also meant that I spent the better part of today engaged in completing my Year One CPL paperwork for the CPL process for the College in order to renew and check the box that yes I have 'complied' with the process because this past year has been emotionally and physically HARD on me and I just have not had the mental or physical energy to sit at the computer and deal with it when I was unsure if I was gonna renew at all. So in addition to the unpaid time I spent engaged in hours upon hours of actual PD this past year and writing many blog posts to reflect on said PD or to advocate for our field and protecting choice in childcare I got to loose another 5 hours of my time because Early Childhood educators now have to participate in cumbersome paperwork around 'self assessments to identify goals tied to our professional standards and code of ethics, create learning plans for the 3 goals we identify and than engage in record of learning with reflection on how we plan to incorporate what we learned into practice' paperwork for the college in case we are ever 'audited' and need to prove to the CPL committee that we did indeed engage in said continuous professional learning process because sadly our 'word' that we engage in PD is not good enough for the government that mandated this process in their new Education Act!
I am also a sucker for additional punishment because in an effort to help educate the general public and as part of my CPL itself for trying to maintain my passion for the field by networking and collaborating with peers I have documented my CPL journey on my website and here on my blog to try to help raise awareness that we A) have a College of ECE in Ontario in the first place as most of the general public have no clue that ECE have to belong to this organization in order to even work in the field including those of us who work in unregulated sector and graduated from college with an ECE diploma even though our peers with no diploma can practice offering home based childcare with absolutely no training or belong to a regulatory body and B) to help raise awareness on the increase expectations that the government and employers have for us despite the very LOW wages that front line ECE make these days and the lack of funding set aside to support childcare in general!
I do this above and beyond on my blog so when the public is complaining about the lack of quality childcare they can hopefully make that connections that it is only going to continue to get WORSE unless something changes drastically as recruiting ECE to enter the field is increasingly hard but now we have ECE who are fleeing the industry in droves because the reality is that most ECE can easily work in the retail or service sector for the same wage now and actually keep more of their income in their pocket because it comes with NO additional education required, without having to pay $160 annually in order to work plus the cost of CPR and First aid recertification required annually and often out of pocket plus and on all the cost of actual attending many professional development workshops and seminars out of our pocket but than add on the unpaid time it requires taken away from our families while engaging in said PD and now on top of all that having to spend hours more in bureaucratic paperwork so we can 'prove' that we have done it like we are ALL a bunch of untrustworthy children vs actual professionals!
I have engaged in PD my entire career, voluntarily, because I do see the value in it to myself and those I serve. I also know that there are SOME ECE who graduate from college and NEVER do any continual professional learning and therefore become outdated and engage in practice that is no longer 'best' practice for the field and in an effort to raise the bar in the field we need to find a way to motivate those ECE to engage in the CPL process. However many of us are feeling punished with the level of expectations here and the College needs to find a way to lower the fees for membership because it is prohibitive for those who are often making just on minimum wage themselves to come up with another $160 annually on top of other costs of being in the field but to also simplify the CPL process for educators. Otherwise, in nothing changes, than I predict fewer and fewer are going to even enter the field as those in it steer them away from it and many ECE already in it are going to continue to look for ways to LEAVE it as fast as possible because we are just exhausted with the continual increase in the responsibilities and expectations of society for ECE with the ever shrinking resources and support to actually do our jobs all while being constantly bombarded in the media about the 'cost of childcare being too high' like the assumption that we are all rolling in the dough with those high fees! Reality is offering quality early learning and child to children is EXPENSIVE and the costs just keep rising while the wages shrink!
If you have an amazing ECE in your life PLEASE take a moment to THANK THEM for all their hard work! Small acts of kindess can make a HUGE difference in an ECE who is battling mounting burnout conditions in the field!
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