My name is Bernice Taylor and I have been working in licensed child care for over 30 years. I am privileged to work in one of three municipal centres in Alberta. The centre in which I work has been serving the residents of Drayton Valley for 13 years. In those years we have needed to continually adapt and improve our program; meeting community needs and remaining sustainable was the utmost goal. I grew up in a farming community in Ontario, and have always been grounded in the firm belief that children need to spend an exponential amount of time outdoors. In Alberta this is a nucleus to a strong program which has been inspiring. I am thrilled to be part of a movement which recognizes the outdoor classroom!
In my years in child care, I have prided my centre’s success on listening to what families are seeking and working with them to act on their input . This has been wonderfully challenging, as the face of child care is rapidly changing. In 13 years, we have piloted new curriculum, worked with three post secondary institutions to support research on nutrition, and collaborated on the creation of an app for preschoolers. The child care staff that I work with are true ambassadors for quality child care; I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by women who continue to push forward in their education and build upon best practices. The luxury of working with highly trained staff has enabled seamless changes over the years. Early Childhood Educators are highly educated, yet are so often grossly undervalued and underpaid. While I am grateful to work for my centre, I recognize that not all Early Childhood Educators work in such conditions. This is why policy change that addresses the needs of Early Childhood Educators is needed.
Is Early Childhood Education challenging? You bet! The constant requirement to find and secure funding and sponsorship, as well as advocate and rally for qualified staffing options can be difficult. I am hopeful that before I reach the end of my career, I see the fruits of this necessary labour. I envision affordable care, well trained and appropriately compensated educators, and most importantly the recognition of the impact this early learning has on Alberta’s generational successes; we are raising future leaders, and it has been worth every bit of hard work to see these child care alumni go forward and succeed!
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