A new online learning hub is giving thousands of early care and learning (ECL) professionals have the opportunity to take virtual courses at their own pace, according to a media release from BC Ministry of Children and Family Development.
BC Early Years Professional Development Hub, a shared platform featuring virtual discussion forums, is for ECL professionals at any stage of their career to learn from a distance. Course examples include learning the principles of the early childhood education's professional code of ethics and recognizing what they look like in practice, to leadership-development training to help ECL professionals improve or expand on their specific areas of expertise, according to the release.
"As a former ECE, I know how important continuous learning is to ensuring children are provided with the best care possible," stated children and family development minister Katrine Conroy. "As the province continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, finding safe ways to provide education and training opportunities is more important than ever before, as many in-person trainings and conferences are not possible."
All ECL professionals will have access to the hub, including early childhood educators (ECEs), ECE assistants and responsible adults (RAs) working throughout the province. ECEs require 40 hours of professional development every five years in order to renew and maintain their provincial certification, and RAs require a minimum of 20 hours of combined coursework in child development, guidance, health and safety, and/or nutrition to be eligible to work in licensed child care programs. The hub has the capacity to store users' professional-development certificates, allowing them to easily keep track of their hours and certificates.
The hub was developed through a partnership between the Government of BC, Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre, Early Childhood Educators of BC (ECEBC) and BC Family Child Care Association, using funding from the Canada-British Columbia Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Agreement. The Early Childhood Pedagogy Network (ECPN) is also a key member of the partnership and has been using the platform to host an orientation course and facilitate online discussions for pedagogists.
"Many of us have been practising safe distancing during this time, but being apart should not put our learning and growth on hold, especially for those who continue to care for our children," stated minister of state for child care Katrina Chen. "This platform will create an online community for early care and learning professionals to learn with and from each other, share knowledge and connect with others across the child care sector."
Facts about early learning and child care in BC:
Investments under Childcare BC are complemented by the BC government's three-year, $153-million Early Learning and Child Care agreement with the Government of Canada, which was signed in February 2018.
Launched in September 2018, the Early Care and Learning Recruitment and Retention Strategy includes providing wage enhancements, on-the-job training opportunities and other measures designed to support professionals at the centre of B.C.'s child care system.
Eligible early childhood educators (ECEs) are now receiving a $2-per-hour wage enhancement. To date, the province has invested more than $19 million to provide nearly 12,000 ECEs with a raise.