The Saskatchewan government is offering free early childhood education (ECE) training for the upcoming academic year.
On Monday, the government announced it is providing nearly $9 million for education and career development grants in the early education and childcare fields. This means that free training courses for educators can be offered.
The province has partnered with three post-secondary institutions to make programs available for the 2022-23 academic year: Collège Mathieu, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic will offer free ECE level one, level two and level three training, as well as an autism certification course and leadership program.
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“I think it’s a great opportunity for Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the Saskatchewan government and industry to work together to grow a pipeline of skilled workers for an industry that has not only been hit hard during the pandemic, but we are seeing that.” there is an increasing need for improved child safety seats, so we are putting the education individuals need in the hands of the people who need it,” said Gerry Youzwa, director of training solutions at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
For many, this news comes at a good time.
Shelley Wilde works at Glencairn Child Care Co-op in Regina. The daycare cares for up to 50 children a day and while they do their best, Wilde says staff shortages are sometimes a real problem.
“For about a year now, when I need someone on call or an occasional person, it has become increasingly difficult to find someone,” said Wilde, chief executive of Glencairn Child Care Co-op.
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Wilde says daycares must have at least one educator for every five toddlers and one other educator for every 10 preschoolers. From the age of six, children need one educator for every 15 children.
“If I have to, I’ll get down on the floor and help meet the metrics, or my assistant will help meet the metrics.”
Wilde says the need for more early childhood educators is greater today than ever before.
“Typically, there are more positions than ECE people available to fill those positions.”
The province’s action is part of its commitment to improving the quality of early years and child care and is one of many new programs being provided under the Canada-Saskatchewan Agreement on Early Childhood Education and Child Care.
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The province says early childhood educators, regulated child care home providers and child care home assistants will be prioritized for enrollment. But other participants who would like to become educators are also welcome to register.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic says it has around 1,100 new places for free training, and prospective students are welcome to apply.
“Students have the opportunity to continue their level of early childhood education and essentially receive free tuition and free books as part of that educational experience,” said Stephanie Mulhall, manager of flexible learning at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
Don Giesbrecht, the CEO of the Canadian Child Care Federation, says an influx of ECEs is needed for Saskatchewan to have an improved child care sector.
“ECEs are the cornerstone, you can’t maintain and expand child care services in Saskatchewan or any other province without enough qualified staff,” said Giesbrecht.
The government’s move comes on top of an upcoming cut in childcare fees next month. According to the state government, the regulated childcare fees will be reduced by an average of 70 percent from September 1 compared to March 2021.
These steps by the government give Wilde hope for the future.
“I think the government that does this will hopefully encourage more people to get their education and stay in the workforce once they get it,” Wilde said.
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https://globalnews.ca/news/9062016/saskatchewan-government-funding-early-childhood-educators/ The Saskatchewan government wants to fund free training for early childhood educators