We wrote letters, signed petitions, dropped off letters from the children and families, spoke to the media, tweeted, shared information via social media and educated the community about the importance of a high quality education for the educators who work with our youngest citizens and they listened.
Monday evening the board of governors at Camosun College voted not to cut the ELC program.
I don’t know about you but I feel like we can change the world now! So what shall we do next?
What does leadership look like?
This is a question that Danielle and I wrestled with along with our cohort in the ECEBC Leadership Initiative in 2009. We were jolted out of our reluctance to claim the word ‘leader’ by the brilliant Sheila Davidson and Rita Chudnovsky who challenged us to reconsider how leadership looks. They told us we could redefine what a leader is, we could be leaders in the most ECE of ways. We didn’t have to adopt the corporate model of leadership wherein one knew all the answers, commanded all the attention, never showed vulnerability. We could be leaders who made cookies for everyone, sat in circles, made sure everyone felt good. Leaders who communicated effectively, showed empathy, listened, and who articulated our beliefs and values with force and passion.
This past weekend Danielle and I returned to this question at the ECEBC Conference, five years after our leadership experience. We had created a presentation on leadership, discussing the large and small ways we can all make a difference in our field. Before our presentation we connected with colleagues, old friends, students, and instructors from around BC and something beautiful happened….we were told stories. One ECE told us of challenging a school administrator on the idea of children needing to be “ready for kindergarten” arguing that schools should be a welcoming place for all children, an instructor told of her advocacy to save an early years program in her community, another told us of challenging the idea of using smart screens in child care settings so ‘children will be able to sit for longer’. Yet another educator shared how she made signs in her community to tell the world about the value of the work of early childhood educators, and another described how she questioned her colleagues about practice she felt did not reflect the values of the community. Everyone we spoke to seemed to have a tale to tell…..a tale of courage, of initiative, of advocacy, of leadership.
We had come to do a presentation about leadership, to try and inspire others as Sheila and Rita had inspired us. And we were the ones inspired all over again.
I want to congratulate these women, to thank them. I am proud of you, of your work, your commitment, your leadership. Your very ECE leadership.
We will be posting stories and letters of support for the ELC program at Camosun. Tonight’s letter comes from Western Communities Family and Early Childhood Resource Network.
April 3, 2014
The Camosun College Board of Governors
Attention: Dr. Marilyn Pattison, Chair, Board of Governors
Dear Dr. Marilyn Pattison,
On behalf of the Sooke / West Shore Family and Early Childhood Resource Network, a community early years table with a shared vision to promote a better future for young children and their families, we are writing to express our concern regarding potential budget cuts to Camosun College’s Early Learning and Care Program. The Early Learning and Care Department are to be commended for their leadership, growing partnerships and ongoing initiatives that address the needs of the early years community throughout the Region.
The recent announcement proposing potential cuts to the Early Learning and Care (ELC) program has come as significant blow to our communities. At many of our community table meetings we hear from local service providers about the need for more qualified Early Childhood Educators, Special Needs Educators and Infant Toddler Educators, which this cut in funding would dramatically impact. We also hear from local families that have been through exhaustive searches to find quality childcare which these cuts in funding would have a significant impact on.
The West Shore Communities of Langford, Colwood and Sooke continue to experience growth as increasing numbers of families are relocating due to affordable housing and greater access to family focused opportunities. It is projected that the West Shore communities will experience a continued growth in population with a forecasted 92% increase by 2026. With this rapid growth and development continuing for the foreseeable future, there is an increasing need for support of new and existing childcare spaces and programs for families and children. If cuts are made to Camosun’s ELC program it would limit access to trained Early Childhood Educators which would significantly jeopardize our ability to work with government to create more childcare spaces and “improve Early Childhood Educator and out-of-school care provider training.”
With the recent announcement made through the Provincial Office of the Early Years to include more childcare spaces across the province over the next five years we need to be in a position to provide quality educators that are equip to provide exceptional care for children – our greatest natural resource.
On behalf of the Sooke / West Shore Family and Early Childhood Network we strongly encourage you to continue to invest in the ELC program and consider our collective voice and the impact that this potential decision will have on our communities, our families and our children. The vision of providing quality education to future Early Childhood Educators is vital to supporting the broader vision in the early childhood profession.
Sooke / West Shore Early Years Coordinator
Darlene Manthorpe – Belmont Park Pre-School
Ramona Melanson – Early Childhood Educator
Nicky Logins – Sooke Family Resource Society
Mitzi Dean – Pacific Centre Family Services Association
Scott Branch – Military Family Resource Centre
During the next few weeks we will be posting stories of advocacy for Camosun’s ELC program. Today’s story comes from Darlene Manthorpe from Belmont Park Preschool Society.
On Wednesday, April 9, an envelope was delivered to the Camosun College Board of Governors containing over 50 coloured index cards with a child’s drawing on one side and comments from their parent(s) on the opposite side regarding the proposed cuts to the ELC program. Belmont Park Pre-School staff included a cover letter. Our staff and parents will continue to advocate for this important program.
Belmont Park Pre-School Society
During 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.
Janis Johnson, Coordinator,
Peninsula Connections for Early Childhood