On Monday, the government announced that they are committing nearly $9 million for training and professional development grants for the early learning and child care sector. This will allow free training to be offered for early childhood educators.
The province has partnered with three post-secondary institutions to have programming available for the 2022-23 academic year: Collège Mathieu, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic will be providing free training for ECE level one, level two and level three, as well as an autism certification course and a leadership program.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the government of Saskatchewan and industry to be working collaboratively together, to increase a pipeline of skilled workers for an industry that was not only hard-hit during the pandemic, but we’re seeing increasing needs for enhanced child care seats, so we’re putting the training that individuals need in the hands of the people who need it,” said Gerry Youzwa, training solutions director for Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
For many, this news comes at a good time.
Shelley Wilde works at the Glencairn Child Care Co-op in Regina. The daycare watches up to 50 children a day and while they try their best, Wilde says staff shortages are a real problem at times.
“In the last year or so, if I need to have somebody on an on-call basis or a casual individual, it’s getting harder and harder to find people,” said Wilde, the executive director of Glencairn Child Care Co-op.
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Wilde says daycares are required to have at least one educator for every five toddlers and another one educator for every 10 preschoolers. After children reach the age of six, they need one educator for every 15 children.
“If I need to, I go out on the floor and I help meet the ratios or my assistant helps to meet the ratios.”
Wilde says the need for more early childhood educators is more now than ever before.
“There are usually more jobs available than ECE individuals to fill those positions.”
The province’s action is a part of their commitment to improve quality in the early years and child care sector and is one of many new programs delivered through the Canada-Saskatchewan Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.
The province says early childhood educators, regulated child care home providers and child care home assistants will be prioritized for enrolment. Other participants wanting to become early childhood educators are also welcome to enroll however.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic says they have around 1,100 new seats for free training and potential students are welcome to apply.
“Students have an opportunity to pursue their level of early childhood education and essentially get free tuition and free books as part of that education experience,” said Stephanie Mulhall, manager of flexible learning at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
Don Giesbrecht, the CEO of the Canadian Child Care Federation, says an influx of ECEs is needed for Saskatchewan to have an improved child care sector.
“ECE’s are the cornerstone, you cannot sustain and expand child care services in Saskatchewan or any other province for that matter without enough qualified people,” Giesbrecht said.
This move from the government comes in addition to the impending child care fee drop next month. According to the provincial government, starting Sept. 1, regulated child care fees will be reduced by an average of 70 per cent compared to March 2021 levels.
These moves by the government have Wilde feeling hopeful for the future.
“I think the government doing this will hopefully encourage more people to get their education and to stay in the profession once they receive it,” Wilde said.
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