Rewarding Career Options in Early Childhood Education in Durham Region

The following is sent on behalf of Lisa McIntosh, Director of Children’s Services & Income and Employment Supports Divisions at The Regional Municipality of Durham:

As an early childhood educator for more than 25 years, I can attest to what a rewarding experience it is to work in partnership with families, caregivers, and community partners to support children’s learning, development, and well-being while fostering their sense of belonging.

As the director of Durham Region’s Children’s Services Division, supporting more than 300 early years programs including licensed child care, licensed home child care, EarlyON Child and Family Centres, and special needs resourcing services, I recognize the essential need for qualified early childhood educators to offer high-quality services across the early learning sector.

Every day, early childhood educators use their knowledge and understanding of child development to offer inviting and engaging learning environments and build strong supportive relationships with children and families. Educators are professionals who nurture and cultivate children’s social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and communication areas of development while valuing children’s individuality, competence, and capabilities.

Research shows licensed child care is an economic driver that not only offers benefits to children’s readiness to learn, but benefits families by allowing women choices and opportunities to enter and remain in the workforce.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the early learning sector pivot and adapt to meet changing needs while continuing to ensure the safety and well-being of children, families, and educators. This has required early learning professionals to use their skills for innovation and analytical thinking to seek creative and adaptive strategies to safely support children’s learning, development, and growth within the new restrictions and protocols.

Additionally, the pandemic has highlighted the immense need for quality early childhood educators as both foundational support for the health and well-being of children and families in Ontario; and to maintain an essential service required to support the sustainability and recovery of our economy.

Regional priorities outlined in Durham’s Early Learning and Child Care Plan, 2018 to 2022, align with local and community priorities, as well as provincial guidelines and requirements. One of the priorities is to increase, attract, and retain quality registered early childhood educators. As part of this priority, the Ontario government has established the Early Childhood Educators (ECE) Qualification Upgrade Program. The objective of the program is to offer financial support to individuals studying in the field or who currently work in Early Years settings to obtain an ECE diploma and subsequently become eligible to apply for membership with the College of Early Childhood Educators to work as a registered early childhood educator.

Additionally, Child Care and Early Years Workforce strategies are being developed, implemented, and promoted by associations, networks, and governments to support sustaining the existing child care and early years workforce, increasing recognition and compensation, and attracting a more diverse workforce that is reflective of children and families.  

If you choose to enter the field of early childhood education, there are diverse opportunities to explore during your career. Across Ontario, registered early childhood educators hold frontline and leadership positions in licensed child care and home child care programs, EarlyON Child and Family Centres, special needs resourcing agencies, school boards, hospitals and treatment centres, the provincial government, the municipal government, and advocacy and regulatory organizations. These include special needs resourcing consultants, educators working in school boards, child life specialists, training specialists and consultants, quality assurance advisors, program managers and regional divisional directors.

 The field of early childhood education is one that requires knowledgeable and dedicated people who want to make a difference in the lives of children and families.  A registered early childhood educator builds the lifelong foundations for a child’s learning, supports families to be able to work and provide and aids families to access services and programs.  An early childhood educator is essential to the success of a community.

To learn more about the Early Childhood Education programs offered through the Centre for Professional and Part-time Learning, please visit our Pathways to ECE page.

Lisa McIntosh RECE, M. Ed., | Director
Children’s Services & Income and Employment Supports Divisions
Social Services Department
The Regional Municipality of Durham