"If we as cultures want to remain rich and vibrant and thriving, then our children must thrive."
- Dr. Margo Greenwood - Academic Leader National Collaborative Centre for Aboriginal Health
Resources and References
Healthy Children, Healthy Nations. A 15 by 15 Research Brief by the Aboriginal Steering Committee at HELP.
Quality, culturally relevant early childhood education helps children thrive!
Often, when we think of the early years, we think of caring for our children, but we miss the crucial importance of learning at this age. Quality early childhood development and care is more than babysitting. It offers the critical combination of care and learning that our youngest children require to develop a strong sense of self and build the cognitive and social skills needed for lifelong learning and success.
Early childhood educators are more than just babysitters. They are highly trained professionals who are responsible for educating and caring for our children. And yet, they are often paid less than janitors. According to a 2001 census early childhood educators earned about half the national average for all occupations. Research by the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society shows that the workforce is aging and even though this career is rewarding many young people are choosing not to pursue this passion because it is simply not possible to make a living wage. We need to find ways to increase wages and benefits and ensure that all early childhood educators have access to ongoing professional development and training.
Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (IELCC) is a term that describes the formal teaching programs designed by Indigenous people for Indigenous people to support children in their healthy development between the ages of birth to six.
From increased connection to culture and tradition, to better long-term education and health outcomes IELCC programs lay the foundations for strong communities. Economists now assert that investment in early childhood is the most powerful investment a community, region or country can make. Research at the Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC and by Dr. Margo Greenwood at University of Northern British Columbia has demonstrated the positive impact of high quality, culturally relevant early childhood development and care programs in our communities.
We have made great progress but much more needs to be done. Mapping research done by BCACCS in 2011 indicates 48 out of 203 BC First Nations (a full 25%) are not able to provide early learning, child care or other supports for young children and their families due to the lack of new federal ECD investments since 2002. A review of Canadian early childcare programs completed in 2003 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Directorate for Education found that an "estimated 90 percent of Indigenous children in Canada do not have access to regulated infant development or early childhood programs with any Indigenous component. We need to call for more stable funding for IELCC programs and increased access to the most vulnerable children in remote communities.
Call for action today. Become an IELCC Champion.