The Foundation’s own charitable activities include policy research, public awareness research and analysis, consultations on the regulation of charities, seminars and workshops on key issues and concerns affecting charities as well as special projects.
Early Childhood Education and Care
High-quality early childhood education and care benefits children’s development, supports families’ labour force participation, reduces economic and gender inequities and helps families build relationships at the community level.
Despite these benefits, early childhood education and care in much of Canada has historically received more limited public funding and attention than related areas of social and economic policy, such as parental leaves and income security. The resulting reliance on market-based approaches to finance and delivery of services has contributed to a limited supply of regulated child care that is expensive for families to access and often of modest quality.
The federal investments in pan-Canadian early learning and child care system in Budget 2021, A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth and Resilience, provide the opportunity to transform early childhood education and care across Canada. This transformation will take time, however, and will require governments, community organizations and other stakeholders to work together to support early learning and child care system building.
The Foundation’s own work in support of early childhood education and care reflects two main interests.
First, ensuring that public policies are designed and implemented based on evidence and the input from a range of stakeholders, including those traditionally excluded from policy making processes.
And second, ensuring that charities have access to the resources they need both to deliver high-quality services and to build community at the local, regional and national levels.
Pan-Canadian Early Learning and Child Care System Building
Over the last decade, the Foundation has worked with early learning and child care stakeholders, governments and civil society organizations in Alberta and Saskatchewan to support the development and integration of early childhood education and care programs and services.
Following the Federal Budget 2021 early learning and child care announcements, the Foundation worked with stakeholders in Alberta and Saskatchewan to develop provincial policy roadmaps to guide system building work in the two provinces. These roadmaps are public documents which outline the policy changes required to support the move toward early childhood education and care systems that are more publicly managed, planned and financed.
The Foundation’s focus on early childhood education and care system building focuses on two main areas: first, the role that local governments can play to support child care; and second, building the capacity of the early learning and care workforce to deliver high-quality care for children and their families.
The content and nature of this continues to evolve based on policy developments, emerging research and discussions with stakeholders.
The Role of Local Governments in Supporting Early Childhood Education and Child Care
In well-developed early childhood education and care systems, local governments, including municipalities and school boards, commonly play important roles in planning, managing and delivering services. They are recognized as the level of government closest to the community and the one best placed to ensure that services are responsive to community needs.
In Alberta and Saskatchewan, a number of municipal governments and school divisions support the delivery of regulated early learning and child care, with policy and funding support from provincial governments. These local governments recognize the importance of high-quality early childhood education and care to the economic and social well-being of their communities and oftentimes have taken the lead to develop and support child care where none previously existed.
The different ways in which these local governments support the delivery of regulated early learning and child care provide examples of how publicly funded and managed services can form part of a high-quality early learning and child care system.
Building the Capacity of Early Learning and Child Care Workforces
Well-qualified, professional early childhood educators who work in well-resourced early learning and care environments provide the foundation for high-quality early learning and child care.
Early childhood education and care is a specialized field, and early childhood educators’ pre-service education, ongoing professional learning and working conditions all contribute to the quality of the learning and care that young children and their families receive.
The commitments to expand high-quality regulated early childhood education care within the Canada-wide agreements require significant increases in the size and capacity of child care workforces. New policies and funding are needed both to attract new qualified staff and to provide the current workforce with opportunities to raise their own levels of education. Parallel new investments and policies are also needed to improve early childhood educator compensation and working conditions.
The Foundation undertakes its early learning and care workforce work in partnership with the provincial associations that represent early childhood educators in Alberta and Saskatchewan.