Category Archives: Posts by Danielle

I matter to a healthy economy

My Dilemma

I matter to a healthy economy

She sits across from me with the biggest smile on her face.

“Danielle” She says “We would like to offer you a promotion.”

“Really?” I ask.

“Yes” with a huge grin she goes on to describe what the promotion entails. A wage increase, increased hours, more responsibility, more autonomy, and benefits.

“We understand childcare may be an issue, so you can do some of the admin work from home.”

“Wow” I either say or think. I am certain I said thank you but I can’t be sure. I was in a bit of shock.

I want to tell you I was bursting with joy and excitement. I want to tell you I jumped up and said “Thank you, I’ll take it!” I want to tell you that but I can’t. What I was thinking at that exact moment was “can I afford to take this opportunity.” The organization thought of the childcare issue but I know my track record of being able to work from home with a three, soon to be four year old running around the house. Blog posts, admin, feedback that I used to be so good at getting done in a timely matter has taken a back seat to snuggles, walks, playing, cleaning and the constant feeding a growing preschooler needs. I know that if I do choose to take this opportunity, I will need child care. Child care costs money. So the numbers start rolling around in my head.

The meeting is over. She asks me to let her know by the following Friday if I will take it.

I go home and I look at the numbers and the reality of the situation is this. Even with an increase in hours and wages my monthly income will be greatly reduced by taking this position. The cost of childcare will take up what extra income I could be bringing home and then some. Based on finances taking this promotion will hurt my family.

How can this be okay? How can we live in a time or place where this is our reality. I love my job, I love what I do, I so desperately want to take this promotion and be happy.

Last year during elections we heard the slogan families first. We heard our premier talk about growing a healthy economy. There was an early year’s strategy, which was fantastic and welcome news. New childcare spaces would be created. I don’t feel like families are first. It’s all well and good to create more childcare spaces but if you can’t afford those spaces what are our options. Doesn’t my contribution to the economy matter?

I can’t sit here and take this reality. Can you? So on July 12th I will be joining the stroller brigade for the $10 a day Childcare. I would invite you to join me. Affordable childcare is part of a healthy economy. More importantly I am part of healthy economy.

Side note: I took the promotion. Fairfield Gonzales Community Association and Kristina please know I felt so valued and so honoured by this opportunity. I may have been fretting about numbers but I was elated.Thank you!

IMGP2599

Letter to the Board

IMGP2599During the next few weeks we will be posting stories of advocacy for Camosun’s ELC program. Today’s letter comes from Janis Johnson, Coordinator of Peninsula Connections.

April 12, 2014
Dr. Marilyn Pattison, Chair
Board of Governors, Camosun College

Re: Potential Program Cuts to Early Learning and Care Program

Dear Dr. Pattison,
Peninsula Connections for Early Childhood, the Saanich Peninsula Early Years Table, wishes to express concern and dismay regarding the proposed cuts to the Early Learning and Care Program at Camosun College. This program is the only one available in our region, a region experiencing a crisis in its ability to secure adequate numbers of qualified diploma level graduates to fill the vacancies in our early learning and care facilities. If we are to have quality early childhood programs we need qualified educators, we cannot afford to compromise and reduce that quality of care for our youngest, most vulnerable citizens. We must all advocate on their behalf.

 
In 2013 the BC Government released its Families Agenda for British Columbia: Building a sustainable quality early years strategy to support BC families. This document focuses on working toward enhanced integration, coordination and development of the early childhood sector. A Provincial Office of the Early Years has recently been established and has indicated that it is preparing to announce the creation of one thousand new childcare spaces in 2015 and thousands of new spaces over the next five years. The early years community in our region is celebrating this positive shift by the government. More than ever we will need access to fully trained Early Childhood Educators. In light of these exciting, desperately needed developments we ask that you please re-consider your plan to reduce the training opportunities for Early Childhood Educators at your College.
 
Camosun College is an integral part of a shared vision of providing quality education opportunities for those who care for our young children. Both the educators and, through them, the children deserve the best that we can offer. Please re-consider your proposed cuts to this valuable program, re-consider the significance of your role related to the enhancement of learning and care opportunities for young children and maintain the Early Learning and Care program as it currently exists.

Sincerely,
Janis Johnson, Coordinator,
Peninsula Connections for Early Childhood

save the elc

Support Camosun’s ELC Program

save the elcFacing a budget shortfall, the executive committee at Camosun College in Victoria, BC is slating the Early Learning and Care Program for cuts.

Camosun College is facing budget cuts from the Ministry of Advanced Education.  On March 14, 2014, the Early Learning and Care (ELC) program faculty were informed that the program was one of 6 programs within the college that was slated for cuts. This will significantly impact the ELC program. Faculty are currently exploring the possible options to mitigate the cuts. We do not know at this time exactly what the effect on our program and ELC students will be.

Initially, the college planned to cut the diploma program, reducing it to a 1-year certificate program. Since that time, and with significant community advocacy, the college has decided to retain the diploma, but is now looking at in taking students on alternate years, beginning this September. This will reduce by half; the number of ELC diploma graduates in our region, and will significantly reduce the training opportunities for those trying to complete the program on a part-time basis. A letter was sent out to potential students for the September 2014 cohort in early April informing them that there may not be a program starting in September of this year.

 

Please share this information to your networks and follow us on twitter at:  #ELCcuts

 

For more information please read the briefing note:

Camosun ELC Briefing note

 

A letter from the Faculty to the community:
IMGP2231

Readiness

IMGP2231I’m having a day. One of those days where I just wished I was the kind of person who didn’t cry at the drop of a hat. Where I wished I was one of those people who could keep their emotions in check, who is able to appear to be “professional” at all times. I am not that kind of professional!!! That’s right I am crying and it’s an ugly cry. My mascara is running, my chest hurts and there is nothing pretty about the way I look or feel. I feel raw.

I want to tell you the story of how I got here to this raw place but it’s not my story to tell. Instead I will first repeat what I said on Facebook earlier:

“It is not my job to get children ready for kindergarten. It is my job to honour the person they are right now.”

Secondly I will say thank you to all those who liked our status, commented on it and shared it. You reaffirmed why I am so passionate about early childhood professionals.

Thirdly I will rant.

Can we just get rid of the words Kindergarten Readiness from our vocabulary?! Please! I think we need to stop using these words for a few decades, in fact let’s just plan not to say them for a century. Heck lets just never say school or kindergarten readiness again. ever!

Can we adapt our programs to the children and not expect the children to adapt to our programs! Maybe I am out there but when a child enters our program and it isn’t working for them I look to see what I can change. I am feeling like we are quick to point to the child and say something is wrong with you.

Can we realize that for a short time parents and children are letting us into their lives and that is an honour.  With that realization can we recognize that time should not be squandered on things that aren’t worthy of our time, like kindergarten readiness! Young children are some of the most interesting, creative, risk taking individuals I know. I want to immerse myself in their thinking and research. Someone else  preconceived ideas of what they need to know doesn’t interest me. I want to know what the children want to learn about. What questions do they have? What far flung theory do they want to try out today and how can I help?

Lastly can we all just stop getting children ready for the next phase of their lives and acknowledge the phase they are in now? Who they are right now is immensely interesting and deserving of our time.

Sidenote: Years ago at my first Leadership Institute session Rita Chudnovsky  posed the question “Why can’t we be leaders who cry?” I obviously took those word to heart.

Invisible Lines

IMGP2437 (768x1024)

The doorway the site of many invisible lines in our schools and programs many many unsaid but established guidelines. Some classrooms a child walks across that threshold and they know they are safe and cared for. Some classrooms children walk across that threshold and they know they must leave the person they are aside. Some thresholds only allow exit if they stand quietly in a perfectly straight line. Some thresholds demand joy upon exiting or entering. The guidelines are clear to the members of that class, program and/or school.

The thresholds don’t just speak to children though. The threshold speaks to parents as well. Sometimes it speaks to parents far more loudly and clearly then the children.  It says drop your child off here.  It tells them not to cross. That past this invisible line is only a place for children and educator to participate. YOUR PARTICIPATION does not matter! You are not welcome. I believe it says these things unintentionally sometimes but sadly it says these things.

I know this because I was once one of those educators who at one time put an invisible line up. I thought my job was to build a relationship with the child not the parents. I thought my job was to focus only on the child between drop off and pick up. This invisible line was supported by policies and procedures in parent handbooks as well.  You must drop off your child by 9:30 a.m. It was also supported by how rooms were set up. Sign in sheets were right by the door. This myth that our jobs were easier if parents just dropped off their children and left was a truth, not just a theory.

I practiced it as truth but I didn’t believe it.  So eventually I started to question it. How can we ask parents to trust us when they don’t know us? How can we welcome families into our program? How can we erase those invisible lines?

When I arrived at Moss Rock Preschool I wanted to establish my pedagogy of relationships and listening. I had a question of inquiry How can our preschool program create community? So I developed practices that encouraged that.  These will sound terribly simplistic. I greeted every person entering our preschool at the beginning of the day. I used their names.  I asked parents how they were doing. I would ask personal directed questions like “How was your boat trip this weekend?” At the end of the day  I greeted them the same way. I would share stories of our day. I would open the door to our class a few minutes early inviting families to come in and participate. I would point out when there were new narratives in the room and invite them to read them. I would throw preschool parties.   The sign in was put in the middle of the room inviting parents to come in.

Today I feel like we have a great community within our preschool. It is my hope that what our threshold says is you are all welcome here.