U of G Researcher Plays Role in Provincial Child-Care Initiative

July 09, 2007 - News Release

Providing access to training, setting professional standards and increasing wages for early childhood education workers are essential to improving Ontario's early learning and child-care system, according to an advisory panel chaired by Prof. Donna Lero of the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition.

The province announced $142.5 million in additional child-care funding on Thursday, partly in response to recommendations from two expert panels on the province’s current and future plans for a co-ordinated approach to child care as part of Ontario’s Best Start plan.

Lero, who is a lead researcher at the Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being, chaired the 20-member expert panel on quality and human resources.

The panel’s report recommends increasing educational qualifications for early childhood educators, directors and supervisors; developing a recruitment and retention strategy that includes significant wage increases; and establishing policy changes and community-based supports to help centres and regulated home child-care providers improve high-quality and inclusive services.

As part of the additional funding announced last week, the province will be allocating $24.8 million to provide a wage increase of about three per cent to 33,500 child-care practitioners across Ontario.

The province has also committed $12 million towards creating the first-ever College for Early Childhood Educators in Canada. The college will set professional standards to help ensure that children who are attending early learning and care programs are being cared for by qualified professionals, said Lero.

“A regulatory college is a provincial mechanism that will help ensure that people entrusted to care for young children are early child-care educators who are responsible for meeting professional qualifications and standards,” she said. “Having a regulatory college is an important step towards recognizing early childhood educators as having the specific expertise, knowledge and skills required for an increasingly complex and demanding career.”

Lero said she is also pleased that the province will be giving early child-care educators at all levels of the profession the opportunity to upgrade their education and training.

“We still have a long way to go in Ontario and in Canada to ensure that all children have the opportunity to benefit from high-quality and inclusive early childhood programs,” she said. “While increasing families’ access to affordable child care, we must also ensure that these programs are stimulating children’s learning and development and are providing excellent career opportunities for individuals committed to helping young children develop to their full potential.”

Donna Lero
Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
519-824-4120, Ext. 53914

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982.

University of Guelph
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