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Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO) position statement on universality

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Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario
Publication Date: 
3 Dec 2004

See text and link below.

Text of the statement:

The Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO) agrees with Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Ministers' principles of Quality, Universality, Accessibility, and Development (QUAD). It has been a long-standing goal of the AECEO to deliver and support quality in early learning and care programs for young children in Ontario. With this in mind, we strongly believe that early learning and care should be inclusive for all families, regardless of family income or economic status.

Many recent studies have indicated the benefits of early learning programs; therefore, early learning and care should be seen as an integral part of children's early development, and not dismissed as "babysitting" or custodial care that takes place when the parent is unavailable. Early learning and care programs must be delivered with quality in mind and be supported by strong standards of practice if we are to maintain our commitment to a successful national early learning and care system.

The topic of universality relates to the question of how early learning and care is delivered as a sector, and more specifically to the argument for "non-profit versus commercial" early learning and care programs.

As the professional association for Early Childhood Educators in Ontario, the AECEO will support Early Childhood Educators working in both non-profit and commercial centres. However, the research in this area is clear and cannot be overlooked. Therefore, the AECEO will, in principle, and in conjunction with the strong evidence from this research, support an early learning and care system that is driven by a public, non-profit sector rather than a commercial system controlled by market forces.

Although non profit status is not a guarantee of quality, recent research has demonstrated that non profit programs show a trend of offering higher wages, better working conditions and child-staff ratios, more opportunity for professional development, and more parental and community input than their commercial counterparts&emdash;factors that are important ingredients in quality programs. Directing public funds and expansion opportunities to the non-profit sector will also safeguard Canada's child care system against foreign corporations who could use NAFTA's investor-state provisions to enter the Canadian child care "market."

A national early learning and care vision should address the needs of parents and children while remaining fiscally accountable to its main funder: the taxpayer. The sector can best do this through parental and community advisory boards and government maintained standards of practice, two factors that are at risk if commercial child care corporations establish a significant stake in the system and that will be virtually non-existent if larger corporations enter the child care "market." The AECEO will continue to support our individual members, but in principle, the AECEO feels that any expansion of existing services within the early learning and child care system in Ontario should be confined to the non-profit sector.