Approximately 250 people, including early childhood educators in Terrace and across the province, gathered at the Sportsplex April 6 to mark the 50-year anniversary of the Early Childhood Educators of BC (ECEBC) organization.
There were many activities for families and educators to take part in, including a nature sensory trail with sand, hay and moss for children to step on, a performance from local music school Tiny Tones, and fun fitness activities from pound Fit. The event was organized by members of the Terrace ECE branch with support from Terrace Early Years Partnership Network.
ECEBC is recognized by the BC government as a go-to organization to support its child care plan, providing the historical knowledge and expertise needed to assess current needs across the province.
Since ECEBC was founded in 1969, it has grown from its beginnings as the Preschool Teachers Association of BC to a large provincial organization with 19 branches. The association has achieved a variety of successes over its history, including the development of a comprehensive plan with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC for an integrated system of early care and learning, including researched economic and implementation plans for province-wide strategies.
As where child care in B.C. stands right now, ECEBC board of directors member Lynne Reside says there is a crisis situation in the lack of quality, affordable, accessible child care throughout the province.
“One of the biggest factors is the inability to recruit and retain trained ECE’s due to historically low wages, few benefits and challenging working conditions. Parents are either unable to work, or often forced to settle for poor quality or a patchwork of child care arrangements,” Reside wrote in a message to the Terrace Standard.
The BC NDP government has made efforts to address these concerns in the past year, with subsidies available for families to make child care more affordable, wage increases for ECEs, and initiatives with municipalities to increase the number of child care spaces available.
ECEBC executive director Emily Gawlick says they believe the province will deliver on their promises to focus on accessibility, affordability and quality programs, though it will take time and political will to build a system with long-term, stable funding.
“[I’m] optimistic, after decades of very little to nothing done, I have seen more investment in 12 months than any other time,” she says.”When there is commitment and vision, there is always a way. ECE’s and community need to be at the forefront of this progress forward.”
Terrace ECE Friday Bailey says the milestone is an important one for the association and she remains optimistic and hopeful for its future efforts. In terms of what needs to happen on the local level, she says more collaboration between community stakeholders is needed.
“We need a collaborative, professional relationship with elected officials, educators, and community members so that our child care plan best meets the needs of children and families in all regions,” she wrote.