Teacher reading a book to her kindergarten class
Connexions Special Anniversary Edition

10 Years Later: What it means to be a regulated professional

On February 14, 2019, the College will celebrate its tenth anniversary. As we reflect on the last decade of regulating the profession, we are also looking forward to how the practice of early childhood education in Ontario will continue to grow and evolve.

In a previous article, we discussed the changes that the early learning and child care sector has faced over the past 10 years, from the introduction of full-day kindergarten to a shift towards inquiry and play-based learning. While much emphasis has been placed on how to better understand and support children’s learning, there is also increasing focus on the unique care and relationship-based practice of early childhood educators and what they value as professionals.

What does it mean to be a professional?

RECEs play an active role in the definition of what it means to be a professional, and that definition is evolving over time.

The foundation of being a professional includes the protected title and designation, a commitment to maintain public trust, professional judgement and a collective professional responsibility.

Over the last decade the College has gathered information from over 53,000 RECEs about the diverse practice settings in which they work. Some examples of those settings include:

  • Licensed child care (e.g. centre-based, home-based child care)
  • Unlicensed child care (e.g. unlicensed home-based child care, nanny, childminding services)
  • Family support programs (e.g. child and family resource centres)
  • Children’s services (e.g. special needs resourcing, children’s mental health, children’s treatment centre, child welfare)
  • Education (e.g. public or private school, school board)
  • Pre-service or in-service education and training (e.g. post-secondary institution, professional resource centre, professional training, consultant)
  • Government (e.g. First Nation, provincial or municipal government, policy, licensing, administration)
  • Advocacy (e.g. professional association, union, network).

In this wide variety of settings, RECEs are required to make complex, ethical decisions every day. As professionals, they often navigate “messy” and uncertain situations or work contexts. They navigate these situations using their professional judgement, which is informed by ethical and professional standards, professional knowledge and experience and reflective practice.

How is Practice Evolving?

Early childhood education is different from other professions in the way that it promotes the well-being and holistic development of children by developing caring and responsive relationships with children and families. We know that strong relationships with colleagues, supervisees, the community and the public contribute to quality practice and a strong profession. RECEs are using the Continuous Professional Learning program to engage in mentoring, communities of practice and collaborative learning to strengthen those relationships.

RECEs are also contributing to professional resources that are shaping and informing the profession, including practice guidelines, webinars, case studies and articles highlighting important practice topics and perspectives.

Why does leadership matter?

We know that RECEs are particularly committed to engaging and empowering other RECEs and colleagues to grow as professionals and leaders. In the years to come, this emphasis on leadership and partnerships will contribute to an expanded body of knowledge for the profession. It will also support RECEs in remaining resilient and adaptive to the emerging needs of children and families and the evolving nature of the early years sector.