The sector of early years in the province is undergoing some major shifts. With change comes excitement and some anxieties. The unknown is a reality for many of our colleagues. This latest blog post is to create a space, a dialogue to learn what is happening in our own respective districts and to support each other as the changes unfold. What is happening across the province is not uniform. Each area/municipality is addressing what the changes will look like for programming and services of family resource programs.
For those that work in the school boards, the responses have been varied. For the TDSB, we have been given 3 years to register as a RECE to maintain our employment. The TDSB will continue to manage its school-based programs with the City of Toronto. The Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board have opted out of being third-party vendors.
Some of our colleagues in family support programs have already experienced the impact of the transfer of responsibility for family support programs from the province to the municipalities. Family Support Practitioners who have worked for nearly 3 decades in program at Muskoka Family Focus and do not have their RECE designation have lost their jobs as of December 2017. The district of Muskoka has restructured staffing and hired some new staff for the EarlyON programs (Brownlee, 2017; The District Municipality of Muskoka, 2017).
The Ministry of Education has outlined the baseline requirement for staffing in an EarlyON program: “Qualified staff teams must include Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) to deliver mandatory core services related to supporting early learning and development” (Ontario Ministry of Education, p. 16-17). The Ministry’s Planning Guidelines for Service System Managers do also state “Aligned with the other mandatory core services, CMSMs/DSSABs [municipal and district service system managers] have the flexibility to determine if additional staff with specialized skill sets may be desirable” (p. 17). FSIO believes that while ECE is an important qualification, the experience of facilitating a family support program needs to be considered, as well. Working with families requires a specific set of skills, education, and experience that is not covered by ECE post-secondary programs. Family Support Practitioners bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and skills to supporting the entire family unit.
How are you being affected by the transition to EarlyON Centres? We would like to hear from you. Please reach out if you have any questions and let us know what is happening in your area and how we can best support you and your colleagues. Let’s discuss in the Member Forum or on Facebook (Ontario Family Supports Workers), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are working on a position paper to bring to the Ministry, so please share your input to make a strong paper! There is power in numbers!
Brownlee, A. (2017, July 24). Early Years transition creates uncertain future for staff in Muskoka. Muskokaregion.com. Retrieved from https://www.muskokaregion.com/news-story/7467460-early-years-transition-creates-uncertain-future-for-staff-in-muskoka/
The District Municipality of Muskoka. (2017). Memo to early years stakeholders regarding EarlyON programs. Retrieved from https://www.muskoka.on.ca/en/community-and-social-services/resources/Children-and-Youth-Services/OEYCFC/Memo-to-Early-Years-Stakeholders-Regarding-EarlyON-Programs—Nov-2017.pdf
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2016). Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres: Planning guidelines for service system managers. Retrieved from https://efis.fma.csc.gov.on.ca/faab/Memos/CC2016/OEYCFC %20Planning%20Guidelines,%20July%202016.pdf