Experience is undervalued in child care

Stephanie Joyeux For two years, I have been asking Yukon's Child Care Services Unit (CCSU) to review and bring changes to their level designation guidelines for child care workers. If you don't know how the Yukon system works, here is a little overview.

Stephanie Joyeux

For two years, I have been asking Yukon’s Child Care Services Unit (CCSU) to review and bring changes to their level designation guidelines for child care workers.

If you don’t know how the Yukon system works, here is a little overview.

To work in a licensed daycare, you must be assigned a level. It also helps determine your salary because of subsidies offered for higher levels.

There are three levels. By comparison, a level one has 60 hours of coursework in early childhood and a level three has over 1,800 hours.

When doing the “level designation,” CCSU does not consider work experience. That means that if you have been working as a child care worker, in a licensed daycare, for 20 years, you are not given a level.

Also, if you come from a related field with 1,800 hours or more of education (Montessori teacher, for example), you can be a level three, but CCSU will make you re-apply for your level every year, even if you work full time in a daycare.

If you do not do this every year, you lose your level and are no longer considered “qualified.”

With my three-year diploma in special education (having close to 3,000 hours of classes) in Yukon, I am a level three.

Every year, to reapply for my level, I must enroll as a student in an early childhood education program and do one class. That is, until I have done the program entirely, including placements.

Taking the Yukon College early childhood education program one class per year could take an individual around 15 years.

This requirement is for people with related degrees, like teachers, or educators for special needs, that are already working full time in daycares.

The reason for this, according to CCSU, is to create ‘‘an incentive to take training.”

I am not against training. Anybody who is passionate in his job should be interested in professional development.

Compare this to teachers having to take professional development every year. This is great and makes sense: they learn about the new content in their field. I believe teachers are even paid to attend these.

But asking a person who has a related degree and that has been working full time in the field, often for many years, to enroll in a program in the evenings or weekends, including doing unpaid placements, without taking in account their knowledge and experience is not the same as professional development, and in my opinion, not beneficial in any way to the worker, or the children they work with.

How many great, qualified workers decided they had no time to waste filling these requirements and were lost in the child care field because of this “incentive”? If you are one of them, I would really appreciate if you could take the time to share your experience with the department of CCSU since they told me no one else has ever complained about this Yukon requirement.

If you are a daycare employer, you know the challenges that come with finding and keeping a level three.

If you are an employed level three, you know how your personal life has been impacted by the requirement of spending years doing these classes.

Most of all, if you are a parent with children going to daycare, you know what you are looking for in a child care worker. Would you turn away a person with 15 years of experience in daycare and a diploma in special ed. to work with your child?

If you agree it’s time to make some changes to make it possible for people like me to work with your children, pleas, send your comments to Lesley.gardiner-falle@gov.yk.ca and Bradbell@gov.yk.ca, or ask your daycare provider about the petition circulating right now on these issues.

Stephanie Joyeux is a child-care worker who lives in Whitehorse.