by Stacy Dunn
On January 1, 2024, the Canada-Prince Edward Island Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement brought fees for regulated child care to $10 a day per child in designated Early Years Centres.
Jennifer Nangreaves, Executive Director of the Early Childhood Development Association of PEI (ECDA), says this announcement will enhance their mandate to help recruit Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and provide professional development and resources.
“As the federal and provincial governments work together to expand and meet the needs of Island families, we see there is a need for more spaces, and these spaces will need more qualified Early Childhood Educators. The ECDA is being strategic to plan for the need for qualified staff to fill these spaces.”
One program that has led to successful recruitment is Steps to Success. Launched in 2020, this training program initially helped build up the ECE sector’s substitute list. When Holland College and Collège de l’Île developed specialized learning opportunities for Island ECEs to upskill their education, the ECDA recognized a need and evolved the Steps to Success program to provide staffing support for Island centres whose current educators were applying to return to school.
“We saw this as an opportunity to evolve Steps to Success into a program to support licensed PEI centres staff,” says Megan Drummond, Coordinator of Special Projects for ECDA. “We recruit individuals who are interested in early childhood education, place them in job opportunities at early years centres, and then we register them in the introductory post-secondary courses.
“Participants take the three introductory courses to earn the first level of certification. They are eligible to take the Accelerated ECE programs at Holland College or Collège de l’Île after receiving their Early Childhood Intern certificate.”
Steps to Success participants get training in the Early Learning and Child Care Act and Regulations and the PEI Early Learning Framework, plus the learning through play philosophy that says play is the basis for learning in all children. Participants also receive a stipend while in this program.
“Some participants have told us this program was their second chance at a career,” Megan says. “It is a great pathway for someone who started a family early or who wants to change careers and has always been interested in working with children. We help them find job experiences right away, and we help them register for their college courses. Those things can be a little daunting when you first enter the field.”
In the first cohort of Steps to Success, 92 percent of participants were hired after completing the program. In the second cohort, there was an 88 percent employment success rate.
“There is a long waiting list for the accelerated programs,” Jennifer says. “They gain work experience while they wait to be accepted into these programs.
“We want to make the pathway to become an ECE as easy as possible to enter, whether it’s from high school or later in life.”
ECDA offers a ‘one-stop shop’ substitute list which the centres can access. “Retired people or people who have a flexible schedule would be good candidates for this list,” Megan says.
“We have heard from Bachelor of Education students who are interested in substituting but had a challenge finding First Aid training. We are looking into providing that training to substitutes because First Aid is a major requirement at early years centres.”
Megan and Jennifer encourage people interested in volunteering at a centre to call ECDA to find out what centres are accepting volunteers and the steps they must follow to volunteer.
The wage grid
In the past two years, the Department of Education and Early Years increased ECEs’ wages by 54 percent. “We talk to the career development classes at high schools and the students want to know how much money they are going to make,” Jennifer says. “The wage grid has been an effective recruitment tool that we are proud to show people.”
“We commend the dedication of the provincial government to recognize how essential early childhood education is, and they worked hard to make sure ECEs receive a livable wage,” Megan says.
“It also shows they value education for children by diploma-qualified staff,” Jennifer adds.
Steps to Success is funded by the Department of Workforce, Advanced Learning, and Population.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
about this profession, contact Jennifer Nangreaves at 902-368-0070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out career opportunities at www.ecdaofpei.ca/educators/careers/openings.php
Check out the substitute list at www.ecdaofpei.ca/educators/careers/substitute.php
To view the wage grid of those working in this field, visit https://employmentjourney.com/early-childhood-education/
For more about the Canada-Prince Edward Island Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, click here