Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Should all RECE be supporting the need for Universal Childcare?


This question came up in a networking group on Facebook today! My views on this are likely not popular among many of my peers however at the end of the day I would advocate to put myself out of a job before I would advocate to put children and families health and wellness at risk in a system that might sound good on bullet points but could actually do more harm than good when you look deeply at the over all picture and under currents of the challenges faced by families with young children in Canada!

My response is thus to 'Should all RECE be supporting the need for Universal Childcare?' : 
If it is going to be modeled after Quebec $10 a day childcare as they keep promoting than I would vote no not all RECE should be supporting this initiative  - because IMO the Quebec system is FAILING both the children AND ECE so I strongly advocate that the ECE here in Ontario need look past the government propaganda about its success where they seem to be focusing only at getting more woman back into the workforce to REALLY see what the program looks like after 25 YEARS and get feedback from those actually on the front line working in it on is this really a system worth 'replicating' all across Canada. 
From my research - they have the highest ratios of children to adult across the board in ALL age groups - do we WANT to be caring for MORE children than we already do? There infant ratios are 1:5 for under 18 months 1:8 for 18 months up to 4 years all in the same room and no apparent rules about how many can be only 18 months in that 1:8 ratio. 4 year are 1:10 and 5 year old are 1:20. Are those ratios what is considered 'high quality care'? 
Look at their LOW PAY with an average of $19 meaning that most front line make LESS than that just making the minimum wage and a few in management roles make more at the $25 mark in order to average out to that $19 and that is even with them all being unionized after a QUARTER OF A CENTURY. 

Here in Ontario everyone keeps saying 'if only we were unionized than we'd get better pay' .... how is that working in Quebec? Fact is that a union cannot demand blood from a stone! When the cost of offering childcare rises above the income a parent can earn working, regardless if it is the parent paying it out of pocket or the government anyone with a lick of 'budgeting' will choose to say 'lets pay the parent to stay home instead' because than we are not investing millions in fancy infant and toddler centres and other overhead costs so it's actually a better investment. And the sad reality is that while we do this for public education system the reason that flies is because most tax payers do not think they have the skills to 'home school' their child and even if they do they do not get keep the cost of public education for themselves. When it comes to childcare to the youngest among is, while it definitely takes some skill set and understanding of childcare development to do it really well the fact is that for centuries parents have been doing 'childcare' themselves and raised strong innovative generations without help so society is less likely to invest in outsourcing childcare and more inclined to support a system where THEY are supported financially to stay home during the early years rather than trying to balance full time work and full time childrearing in those early years when they do not sleep through night and are very emotionally taxing due to lack of language and communication skills! 
Even the Quebec's unionized home childcare sector is currently doing rolling strikes because they do not even make the current MINIMUM wage of $13.50 an hour because they pay them a daily rate vs an hourly one and most providers work 10 plus hours a day not the 8 that most centre staff do! So from what I am reading the universal childcare has not really benefits the FRONT LINE at all - still low paid and have higher ratios for their trouble! 

And is it really benefiting ALL families equably?  It has been over 25 YEARS and it is still not UNIVERSAL and yet the cost of operating it is bankrupting the province so they have no money for other infrastructure like roads or hospitals - according to the Finding Quality Childcare in Canada website as of the last survey in 2019 the program only services 54% of the demand when looking at 0-12 year olds and that drops to only 42% when you look at 0-4 year olds! They seem to have a inequitable TWO TIER system where there are limited 'subsidized' spaces and everyone else is either paying higher out of pocket fees OR arranging for family or other types of childcare with lower out of pocket costs.
And most importantly the research coming out on the CHILDREN who've lived this system for 25 years in high ratios and with parents who are over taxed balancing full time work and full time child rearing and full time household management is VERY troubling - showing increased emotional and mental health challenges and increases in physical illnesses and societal challenges over all. 
So sure the upfront cost of $!0 a day childcare might  look great at first glance and sure on paper it increased the number of woman in the workforce and increased their financial security of having their own income but we really need to look at the OVERALL cost to children, parents, early childhood educators AND the taxpayer over all! The system is FLAWED and we really should not be holding it up as a model to emulate! 
There are way better models in other countries that can result in more women in the workforce, betting paying jobs for woman by ensuring EQUALITY in parental leave programs so that it is not the woman who has to choose to remain out of the workforce! Look to those!!!!

So if we are going to look at modeling a Canadian Universal Childcare system like NORDIC countries do and instead fund an actual living income for a proper parental leave for the first 3 years. A leave that can be shared equally between both parents if desired so no one has to give up their career entirely but where so parents can share the load to provide FULL TIME CARE at the low ratio and primary caregiver that brain research shows children thrive best with while also working part time to keep themselves up to date with career advancements and such - yes please!

Create a universal childcare system where we were to invest in have community family centres and playgroups building on the EarlyON programs we already have where highly trained RECE can offer EARLY LEARNING via playgroups but can be done at the higher ratios of children serviced because their parents are also there providing the CARE. A family centre that can also act as a resources to parents with workshops and support groups for connection designed on helping them gain the skills they need to thrive at the demanding role of parenting. 
A system where 'universal childcare' by an actual THIRD PARTY highly trained RECE waits to start once the child is 3 and goes until 6 with a ratio that is more conducive to that age group in order to publicly fund both the early learning and care needed while ensuring well compansated educators. 
A universal system where children do not move to a formal public education setting until they are turning 7 within the school year - where they wait to introduce formal reading/writing/ expectations until all children would be developmentally read. Early years are spent instilling a love of reading and literacy awareness through play based interactions with adults and their environments!
If we are going to model a universal system like THAT where everyone is winning than sure sign me up! 
 Because they have been at it since 1975 and unlike Quebec studies show THAT model actually results in positive outcomes for all - parents are not pulled in two directions in the early years trying to work full time and do the full time job of parenting so they are better rested and have better mental health outcomes, children form strong family attachments with their parents during those first 3 years thus have the social emotional growth to thrive in the universal preschool programming! They hold off trying to cram unrealistic reading and writing on 3-6 year olds making children stressed and turning them off of learning and therefore they have might higher rates for both that carry out through their entire education system. Our FDK approach is not providing those same results - ratios are too high and the reading/writing/ expectations are not developmentally appropriate for the majority of children that age creating stress and anxiety around 'learning' for children!
You only get one childhood. Lets make sure it is full of magic, nature and discovery!
Live, Laugh, Love
Be Totallyawake4-life

No comments:

Post a Comment