Early Childhood Education: a rewarding career
by Heidi Riley
“Early Childhood Education is a rewarding career, and staff love what they do,” says Sonya Hooper, Executive Director, Early Childhood Development Association of PEI (ECDA). “Their contribution is a cornerstone of PEI’s economic growth, because the availability of quality affordable childcare allows more people to find jobs.
“We often get calls from businesses that can’t expand or open for a longer season because their workers can’t find childcare. Businesses can’t operate to their maximum and contribute to the Island’s economy without childcare. There is lots of research that shows that the return on investing in Early Learning and Childcare is twice the amount invested.”
ECDA manages the PEI Early Learning and Childcare Registry. “There are more than 260 infants on the waiting list for daycare,” says Sonya. “We often hear from parents who are not able to take a job because they can’t find a licensed daycare space.”
Sonya says there are many reasons for the rise in demand. “Community and family structure has changed over the last five to 10 years.” Sonya also says that PEI’s lower unemployment rate and a rise in immigration are also factors that contribute to the need for more childcare spaces.
Where do they work?
Early Childhood Educators work in designated and non-designated early childhood centres, and in licensed centres in full-day or half-day programs, family resource centre programs, school-aged programs, and licensed family home care.
Early Childhood Education on Prince Edward Island – Hiring practices
L’Association des Centres de la Petite Enfance Francophones, Island wide
CHANCES, Island-wide, from O’Leary to Montague
Île Enchantée, Carrefour de l’Isle-Saint-Jean, Charlottetown
Jobs in Early Childhood Centres & Hiring needs
Jobs in Early Childhood Centres
- Director or Supervisor
- Early Childhood Educators
- Substitute Caregivers
- Special Needs Assistant/Inclusions Support Worker
- Early Childhood Educator Assistants
“Early Childhood Centres also hire cooks and substitute early childhood educators,” says Sonya. “Substitutes require a criminal record check and vulnerable sector check, must be 18 years of age or older, and have emergency first aid certification. They do not require Early Childhood Care and Education training, although some experience working with children is beneficial.
“Working as a substitute is a great way to get experience in the field and find out if it is a right fit for you. It’s an ideal job for parents looking to get back in the workforce. Working in a school-aged program is another good option because they operate before school and after school, and those hours could complement a student’s schedule.” Visit www.ecdaofpei.ca to sign up to be a substitute.
Education options on PEI
- Holland College: Early Childhood Care and Education program – 2 years
- Collège de l’Îlle:
- Early Childhood Assistant: 1 year
- Early Childhood Educator: 2 years
- UPEI 2 x 2 program: Bachelor of Child and Family Studies
The one-year certificate program creates eligibility for certification by the PEI Early Learning and Child Care Board for Level 2 ECE. The two-year diploma creates eligibility for certification as Level 3 ECE. Designated Early Years Centres require all staff to be certified by the PEI Early Learning and Childcare Board. Non-designated private centres may offer positions to people who have extensive experience in childcare. Directors of designated Early Years Centres are now encouraged to acquire a bachelor degree in early childhood education and care.
Designated Early Years Centres receive provincial funding and must meet additional requirements beyond those for health and safety regulations necessary for licensing, including utilizing the Early Learning Framework to guide programming and evaluation, employ certified staff, and comply with the provincially regulated parent fees.
They must also pay the wage rates set by the 2017-2018 PEI Early Childhood Educator Wage Grid. An uncertified staff member starts at minimum wage. Someone with ECE level 3 certification, which requires a two-year diploma, starts at $15.30 an hour.
“The wage grid is only mandatory in designated Early Years Centres. Others working in the field can be doing so for much less per hour,” says Sonya.
“Even those centres that receive government subsidies struggle to pay their bills. It’s a difficult balance to keep fees affordable and to be able to afford to offer a quality program. It is expensive to hire trained ECE experts in child development, to provide quality outdoor learning environments, and cover rising costs of heating and nutritious groceries.
“Despite the parent fees set by the province, parents are struggling to meet those costs. It costs $34/day for an infant, which is more than $8,000 per year. That is more than tuition at some post-secondary institutions. From the family’s point of view, that is a lot of money, but Early Learning Centres struggle to cover their costs.”
Starting a daycare business
“Starting a home daycare is a great option for stay at home mothers,” says Sonya. “However, there is a fair amount of homework to do upfront. Do your research and understand the needs in your community, which can be different from other communities. Travel distances to work can influence the hours of operation that best meet families’s needs. Seasonal work and shift work will also determine parents’ needs.
“Decide what age group of children you wish to take on, and if you are setting up in your home or in another location. An information package available from the department outlines requirements. Liability insurance is available through the Early Childhood Development Association of PEI. Be aware of child-staff ratios and parent fees regulations.
“PEI has invested in training to increase the level of knowledge and expertise among those working in the field. As a result, there is an increase in the number of certified people working in the field, or perhaps interested in opening a family home centre.
“Although licensing your centre involves some paperwork, when a centre is licensed they can access childcare subsidies and other grants. As of January 2018, there are only two licensed home childcare centres on PEI.”
For more information about daycare regulations, visit www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/information/education-early-learning-and-culture/frequently-asked-questions-family-home-child-care.
For more about the Early Childhood Development Association of PEI, visit www.ecdaofpei.ca.
Daycare providers are listed on the Early Learning and Childcare Registry. Visit www.ecdaofpei.ca/ecregistry/. An updated registry will be available in April 2018.