Occupations in early childhood care and education
As described on a Government of Canada website:
- The child care industry primarily consists of businesses that provide daycare services for infants and children. Your daycare can be a home-based operation, or it can be a commercial centre that serves a particular area or community. You can offer several different types of services, and the choice of size, location and specific services will depend on you.
- Some examples of daycare services include:
- Child care for older children (before and after school care )
- Unlicensed or licensed home-based daycare
- Licensed centre-based daycare
- Licensed child care agency
- Nanny services (work in home of employer as a live-in or live-out nanny)
- Early childhood education services.
Going beyond the role of a child caregiver, there is the role of a “childhood educator,” someone who works with children from infancy to age 12, including children with special needs. For further information on this occupation, see: Career Map for Internationally Educated Early Childhood Educators, which describes this occupation as “planning, organizing and delivering inclusive play-based activities that help children develop intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally.”
Early childhood educator roles include:
- preschool teacher;
- nursery school teacher;
- infant and toddler educator.
An online guide to careers as an early childhood educator, published by Skilled Immigrant Info Centre in BC, suggests that early childhood educators should:
- enjoy working with children;
- have strong communication skills;
- be patient and understanding;
- be physically fit as you are required to stand, walk, bend and lift items throughout the work day.
The same website goes on to say:
- As an early childhood educator you may work varied hours. Preschool and school-based programs typically operate only during the school year, offering approximately nine months of work to both full- and part-time workers.
- Daycare centres are generally open throughout the year and may have extended hours to accommodate the needs of working parents.
- Although working with young children can be very rewarding, it can also be physically and emotionally tiring as working with children requires a great deal of patience.
According to the website, Ontariocolleges.ca: Salaries for early childhood education professionals vary depending on the position, but generally start from $27,000 per year on the low end and $33,000 per year on the high end. This range would likely apply for individuals working for licenced early child care or early child education providers.
For an individual caring for the children of others, in their own home, on either a full-time or part-time basis, earnings will likely be no more than minimum wage.
Need for English language proficiency
In terms of required English language proficiency, to be even an early childhood educator assistant, the following is explained on the website of Settlement.org:
- You need to communicate in person with children, parents and co-workers. You need to read books in English to children and teach them basic reading and writing skills. You need to keep notes of your observations about children. It can be helpful to know 2 or more languages.
The training program for childhood care assistants, offered by Agincourt Community Services Association and Archbishop Anthony Meagher Catholic Continuing Education Centre, described below, requires a minimum of CLB 6. College programs generally have the same CLB level requirement. Mothercraft College of Early Childhood Education offers an ELT program for those already at CLB 6 or higher.
The level of English required to take care of children in one’s own home, on an unregulated basis, will most likely depend most upon the comfort level of the parents of the children being minded.
Regulation and certification in early childhood care and education
While “child care educator” is a regulated occupation in Ontario, that of “child care assistant”, working for someone else, is not.
On a self-employed basis, depending upon the age of the children in care, no licence is required for a small number of children, as explained on a Government of Canada website:
- Child care centres and some home-based daycares in Ontario are licensed by the Ministry of Education. You may plan to offer unlicensed home-based child care. However you will need a licence if you:
- Care for more than 2 children under the age of 2 (including your own children);
- Care for more than 5 children over the age of 2 (including your own children under the age of 6);
- A licence is also needed for private home daycare agencies that contract individual caregivers who provide child care out of their own homes.
- As a licensed and regulated home-based daycare provider, you need to meet provincial health, safety and caregiver training standards including:
- Caregivers must be over the age of 18.
- Caregivers for special needs children must have valid first aid certification.
- A home visitor will meet with licensed home-based daycare providers on a regular basis to conduct general inspections and provide support.
- Additional licensing may be required if you want to care for children with a physical, visual or auditory disability, or if the child has a developmental, communication, behavioural or a chronic medical problem.
See also, this Government of Ontario website, which explains, further:
- An unlicensed provider must inform parents that they are unlicensed in writing (either hard-copy or electronic). A provider must keep proof of their disclosure for two years. The disclosure must say: “This child care program is not licensed by the Government of Ontario.”
- All providers, both licensed and unlicensed, are required to provide receipts for payment of services upon request.
- All staff, volunteers, and students at licensed child care centres and agencies require criminal reference checks. This includes vulnerable sector screening, which must be updated every five years. Offence declarations must be provided every year that Vulnerable Sector Checks are not required.
To be an early childhood educator in Ontario, one must complete a recognized diploma or degree program in early childhood education and be registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators.
Training programs for newcomers in the GTA
There is one current program available in the GTA for training refugee newcomers as childcare assistants, offered in Ajax by Agincourt Community Services Association and Archbishop Anthony Meagher Catholic Continuing Education Centre (with minimum CLB 6 requirement.) For more information, see the Programs & Events section of this website and filter by “early childhood care and development” under “sector”.
The website, Ontariocolleges.ca, describes training programs in early childhood education within the province:
- Many colleges offer this program at an entry level, meaning requirements include only an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent, with a grade 12 English credit (additional academic requirements may be added by specific institutions).
- Other Ontario colleges structure the course as a continued education program, requiring you to have completed an undergraduate degree. This program will often be accelerated to three semesters, rather than the traditional four-semester program.
- Additional requirements to both programs could include health certificates and immunizations, Police Record Checks and admissions testing. Experience working with young children will be seen as a definite asset, and may be required by many institutions.
George Brown College, in Toronto, offers an Honours Bachelor of Early Childhood Leadership (Fast-Track) in a two-year program designed for those with an Early Childhood Education diploma wishing to pursue a degree in early childhood leadership. The College also offers a 7 week bridging course, leading to admission into the Early Childhood Leadership (Fast-Track) Bachelor degree program.
There is currently no OSLT, sector-specific program for childhood educators being offered by a community college in the GTA, although Mohawk College in Hamilton does have a program for practitioners or assistants (requiring CLB6).
There is one free OSLT/ELT program for early childhood learning and development in the GTA, which is offered by Mothercraft College of Early Childhood Education and requires CLB 6 to be eligible. This program includes 4 weeks of practicum placement and is said to often lead to employment as an assistant or practitioner.
All child care supervisors, employees, and home child care providers must have a valid standard first aid certification including infant and child cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Job market outlook
According to the Government of Canada Job Bank website:
- The employment outlook will be good for Early childhood educators and assistants… Given Toronto’s growing population, demand for these childcare workers is expected to increase during the [2017-2019] period. Qualified individuals who speak multiple languages may have better prospects.