Throughout my readings, social media engagement, and in-class participation, I have come to understand that not only is lack of accessible, quality childcare a problem for Canadian families, but so too is our lack of professionalization of the ECEC field. Reflecting on the intersection of these issues has revealed some gender-based concerns. Approximately 70% of mothers work outside of the home, requiring childcare, and yet 25% of Canada’s children have access to regulated care. Further, increased access to childcare would help to: enable more women to join the workforce; resolve the gender-based wage gap; respond to Canada’s changing and aging working family demographics; and support Canadian families to both work and have children. However, 57% of ECEC staff make less than $15/hour. Despite the large portion of family income often devoted to childcare (e.g., 32% of the average single parents’ income), there is still poor public recognition upholding the professionalization of the ECEC sector.
This leads me to my main concern: the working conditions of the ECEC sector are unacceptable for a profession, and educators, who are predominantly female, are arbitrarily and unreasonably undervalued, under-compensated, under-appreciated, and overworked (which affects their work) compared to professions such as school-aged teaching or early intervention specialists. As the predominant caregivers in households and gender employed within the sector, it is primarily women who are impacted by this poor recognition. ECEC is often considered “women’s work” that does not require training, and yet this sector is the only infrastructure capable of, but failing at, supporting Canada’s economic and population growth – thus, requiring change. Retaining qualified ECEC staff would support quality childcare and likely mobilize further advocacy for funding allocations, which could in turn influence access to childcare.
I was previously indecisive regarding my future career options and unwilling to enter the ECEC workforce. After the creation of my personal philosophy statement and our class on professionalism I had a moment of clarity: working with young children and families is my passion and my first career choice. Further, I realized I am craving learning about best practices from (and with) other ECEs and gaining education in order to refine my personal practice. I have decided to commit to working in the EC field for at least a few years prior to considering “moving on”. An incentive for this choice is the support for PD as a RECE. Part of this commitment involves my determination to generate something meaningful for the field, through advocacy, research, theory/pedagogy, or practice-based insights. As a feminist who is aware of the concerns of the ECEC field, I would have the most impact from within the field through conversations with peers, families, educators-in-training, and administrative personnel. Having a blog may help disseminate policy-related information regarding access to childcare, but my ability to influence professionalization may be limited unless I have a voice from within the field. Moreover, sharing my practice-based insights could allow me to target a wider-range of stakeholders in my attempts to advocate for the field. As such, I am committed to advocacy for, and working within, the ECEC sector to resolve these gender-based concerns by: recruiting men to the field; documenting the impact of appropriate compensation/training for ECEs; and disseminating the impact of adequate access to quality childcare for Canada through my blog. I have already begun the process of investigating supply positions at childcare programs, connecting with a Director, and inquiring into completing my fourth-year placement within pedagogical leadership as part of my commitment to my revelation. Working as a practicing RECE with a master’s degree would be my legacy to the children within my care, exemplifying the purpose for training, and that the field deserves the same professionalization attained by any other historically female-dominated fields. Issues of access and professionalism can both be ameliorated through family-based policies and feminist advocacy for the roles women hold.