MANITOULIN – Thursday, October 22 marked the 20th annual Early Childhood Educator and Child Care Worker Appreciation Day and to mark the special occasion, banners were placed at each of Manitoulin Family Resources’ (MFR) child care locations, in Little Current and Mindemoya.
This year’s Early Childhood Educator and Child Care Worker Appreciation Day theme is ‘Rising Up!’ “This day recognizes the commitment, hard work and education of early childhood educators (ECEs) and all staff who work with young children,” the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care website states. “From government cuts and then to the COVID-19 pandemic, our sector has faced many challenges this year. The workers have risen to the challenge and are now Rising Up to call for better wages, working conditions and support for the sector. Each year the day is proclaimed by municipalities and school boards across Ontario and marked in hundreds of child care centres.”
“Sponsored by Ontario’s labour movement, the day draws attention to the value of ECEs and child care workers in communities,” the Coalition states. “It is also a great opportunity to call for better wages, working conditions and support for these workers.”
The day was also acknowledged during the monthly board meeting of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board, held virtually on Thursday, October 22.
Diana St. Pierre, a registered early childhood educator and children’s services program director at MFR, shared with The Expositor some of the highlights of MFR ECE’s this year.
“We were the first within the district to open emergency child care for essential workers during the beginning stages of the pandemic, which also paved the path for the rest of the district,” a proud Ms. St. Pierre states. “Staff stepped up to the plate not without fears, but put the needs of the community before their own and made it happen. EarlyON programming continued, moving to virtual programming to give families connection with others while in isolation, offering playgroups, story times, parent support with Triple P and social drop-ins.”
Home child care providers also opened their doors to offer child care in a home environment and with smaller groups, even though they had their own families to worry about as well, Ms. St. Pierre added.
“In recent months, it has been made clear that the economy cannot sustain itself without these caring individuals providing the best care possible through these unprecedented times,” she continued. “Staff have done this with very little recognition or being deemed essential. In our eyes, they are essential and need to be recognized for the work they have and continue to do.”