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Viewpoint: Top priority will always be the children

May is Child Care Month

Whether you have children in child care or not, you are likely aware of government proposals to change the child-care landscape in Canada and BC. Promises include creating more space, reducing child-care fees and making care more accessible.

While these are all much-needed areas of attention in our child-care crisis, the one where the promises fall short is in regard to caregivers.

Amid promises of a better child-care system, there are caregivers behind the scenes quietly wondering if those who are making promises even really know the full scope of the child-care crisis in our province. Caregivers question contracts and read fine print, struggle to make the best decisions for their own livelihood while desperately wanting to help the families they serve, and tirelessly advocate for the best for children in their care and for themselves and/or their staff members.

But, do you know what else those caregivers are doing while all of this goes on? 

They are showing up. Every day. Every second. Every minute. They are there, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Regardless of how much time and sleep has been lost to the complexities of the pending government promises and to advocating for all those promises lack, their number one priority is, and always will be, the children. Because, when children have to be away from their parents, they need to know they have someone who is going to show up, in every aspect of the phrase.

Children need someone who is going to be there to love them, to cheer them on, to nourish them, to challenge them, and to inspire them to be the absolute best versions of themselves. They need someone who is just as passionate about teaching them as they are about learning from them.

Caregivers do not become caregivers to fight the political agenda or for the money, but because they have infinite vacancy in their hearts and endless amounts of love. They have unmet patience and a passion to effect change, if even for only one moment in one child’s life. 

Can you imagine the change we could make in the world of child care if we valued our caregivers as much as our caregivers valued our children? Is there even a child-care system without the caregivers to provide the care?

Where is the worth in fee reductions and increased spaces without adequate numbers of caregivers to provide care? Caregivers are the fabric of our child-care system and are all too often forgotten. 

Regardless of where your care provider stands on the current events, take the opportunity during May is Child Care Month to thank them for nothing more than showing up. Because even if nothing ever changes, they will continue to show up and be present for every second of every day with arms and hearts wide open to love your children as their own. 

While I give credit to those who are pushing so hard to have early childhood on the table in any capacity, the programs and initiatives fall short on the most important component of the Early Childhood Care and Education field: infant-toddler educators, the early childhood educators, and the early childhood educator assistants. These are the people who show up every single day despite long hours, low pay and broken promises of a better system; the ones who have a barely-ends-meeting career but do it anyway, purely out of love for our children; the ones who invest their time and energy into the growth and development of future generations, driven solely by a passion to make this world a better place one child at a time; the ones who are nothing short of second parents to our children. 

It’s easy as a busy parent, struggling with the high cost of child care and the demands of work and life, to forget to appreciate those incredible men and women who wholeheartedly choose to be there when we can’t be. So let’s remember, despite how good all new initiatives and programs sound, they fail in big ways at recognizing that there is a bottom line at play and that without that bottom line, we don’t even have a system to be concerned about.

Show them how much you appreciate them, advocate for them, and thank them for continuing to show up.

Maggie Ellwyn is a qathet region infant toddler early childhood educator.