One of the most important words you learn when you choose a career path that involves working with children, whether you’re working at a childcare, education, or ministry level, is advocacy.
We are all ethically bound to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, to protect the health and well-being of those in our care, and to provide environments that are safe. This obligation drives every decision we make, and we take it very seriously.
But what happens when no one is listening? What happens when the health and well-being of a six-year-old child gets prioritized over that of a two-year-old? What happens when the health and well-being of a teacher gets prioritized over that of an early childhood educator? What happens when everything you know to be right is contradicted by the organizations and governments in place to support the families you work with? What happens when you are told by the premier it’s “business as usual” because, according to the provincial public health officer, you are an “essential service”?
If you’re an early childhood educator, you continue to show up. You continue to love the children in your care as if they are your own. You continue to put your health and well-being and that of your own family lower on the priority list.
As a society we are told to use social distancing. We are told to self-isolate. We are told to limit touch. We are told to cover coughs and sneezes. We are told to not touch our faces. Early childhood educators would really like to know why those in power to make decisions to protect our children, our families, our communities, don’t seem to be able to apply their knowledge of COVID-19 to what we know is the ability of young children to do these things.
But, if you ask them, you get a brushed off response about how COVID-19 doesn’t really impact children. You get told that there’s no enforcement in place to make you operate your childcare facility and you could close if you wanted to.
But, if you stay open against everything you know is ethically right in a time such as this, you continue to receive operating funding.
We all know that childcare has a slim profit margin; we all know that if we close and lose our funding, our centres are at high risk of closing permanently. Shouldn’t the governments be more concerned about losing this essential service? Or are we only an essential service in a time of crisis?
Maggie Ellwyn is an infant-toddler early childhood educator in Powell River