The Province is adding $500,000 to its Early Childhood Educator bursary program.
“It allows students who are taking ECE programming to access up to $300 per course to a maximum of $1500 per semester to support their studies,” says Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux. “So far, 757 students have shared approximately $775,000 in grants.”
The fund was established in 2014 and, with the additional funding, has received $2 million in investment from the government.
Cadieux says the province needs more early childhood educators. In Prince George, wait lists for child care are extensive and families sometimes having to wait years before a space becomes available.
“Child care is in demand in British Columbia in all parts of the province. With that demand and with the increase in availability of child care through our Child Care Capital Funding program that helps create new spaces, there’s an increased need as well for new early childhood educators.”
Aboriginal students will be given priority to receive the bursaries and Cadieux says they will also give preference to students interested in pursuing speciality designations.
“What we are focusing on is students who are training in programs with an Aboriginal focus and students who are looking to achieve their infant toddler designation. Both of those are a little extra training from the Early Childhood Educator training. Those are in demand in BC so we’re hoping to encourage students to take those additional courses.”
Children under the age of three require a 4 to 1 child to staff ratio, meaning more educators with toddler specialities are needed to care for fewer kids.
Cadieux says there are about 22,000 early childhood educators in BC.
Thirty-two post-secondary institutions, including the College of New Caledonia, currently have early childhood education programs.