Viewpoint: The heart of childcare

The Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative. The Affordable Child Care Benefit. $10 a day child care. Childcare BC New Spaces Fund. Don’t those all sound amazing?

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. The ones 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 anyways, 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.

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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 those 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.

There is more money, more benefits and more recognition almost anywhere else. They choose to show up because they care about our families. But more importantly, they stay because they love our children.

Paid in barely decent wages, a supplement of hugs and smiles and laughter keeps them passionate about their roles in this world. Pretty incredible, right?

They do it all because they believe, as we all should, that children matter. And until the government catches up and realizes that it needs to work from the bottom up and not the top down, it is our job to ensure that our caregivers know how much they matter, too.

Maggie Ellwyn is an infant-toddler early-childhood educator in Powell River. May is childcare month in BC.

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