I love children so much and have worked in Early Childhood Education in British Columbia, Canada for 30 years now. This is not a profession that one gets into if they are concerned about money. Yes I need money to live on but children and their well being to me has always come first. I have my diploma in Early Childhood Education and for 30 years in my field we have worked so hard to have quality childcare, inclusion for every child, and education that helps us go further in our field.
In the last three years or so a lot of people have left our profession because the cost of living goes up in my city and our wages are lower. The school system decided to offer Early CHildhood educators much higher wages to come and be EA’s in the school system as they badly needed help. A lot of people my age left and now have good jobs in the school. It is unionized so better money and less hours to work. It has been really hard to find qualified staff for jobs and many programs have had to shut down their infant centres. The place I work at has had to cut back on our spaces which means less quality care out there for infants.
Recently the BC government through Children and Families decided to give cheaper daycare to parents and in turn boost up our wages in our field. It would be back paid from September to January of this year and a dollar an hour more and in another year another dollar an hour. This is huge for us in my field, it’s to bring more people into the field and help us bring more quality childcare to our centres. This is awesome. We finally can feel like this profession is worthy to be reconized for what we do.
Yesterday I was told our work had approved all of our staff except me and another guy because we work in special needs positions. I was in shock and what does this mean. Last night I read the regulations and those who are eliable are anyone who has a current and in good standing cert in Early Childhood, under 3’s and special needs certificates. Worked on the floor for more than 50% of the time and that your centre was approved for the grant. I have all those certifications and those who are ineligible support workers, those educators who are off the floor, assistants, volunteers and those who look after their own children.
Does the government not realize the job I do. I do more than anybody else in my centre because the child I work with comes with a team of therapists and I have to implement what they suggest I do. It is hard work doing this job and we are NOT ELIGIBLE. How is this quality childcare if we have nobody who wants to work in helping special needs children what happens to these children- yes the funding may be there but no workers and these children will just be in our centres with no extra help. How is that benefitting anyone especially the child that needs extra support. I already get low wages and no sick time or benefits and now because we are not able to get this grant we will lose $2,000 this year plus $4,000 next year.
For me yes the money would have been a welcomed thing but more importantly for me THIS IS NOT INCLUSION. What happens to our special needs children and their families and quality care we have fought so hard for. I am outraged by this. Today I was told by a friend just quit my job. Another said to me well this job your in has cost you a lot and now this. I could quit my job today and get any job in my city and get my benefits my grant etc but how do I explain to the family whose child I have worked for 2 years I’m quitting on you and your child for more money. This is not about money to me this is about an really unfair thing that is happening to our children, it’s exclusion so if you have special needs to bad we will not give you quality people to work with you.
The little boy I work with was in a tragic accident that caused him to now have a brain injury. If he did not get one on one help he would not be so far in his development and be able to do so many things that typical 4 year olds can. He would not have had that so important intervention that is proven over and over again to help in the first 5 years of a child’s life. He would not be able to go to school or have the same opportunities as any other child. Why is his family and so many others being punished for having no workers to work for them or people with no or little education. These are our children, this is their future. Quitting would also say I don’t care about what is happening and I’ve never quit anything in my life without a huge fight.
Today I wrote letters to people who needed to know about this. I have more to write and a bunch of people who care about childcare are writing to their MLA and the MInistry of child and Families. This fight is not over. Speak out today and stand up for what is right. I will let you know how this turns out.