Did you know that many complaints are resolved without requiring a hearing? Discover what happens when we receive a complaint about a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE).
Complaints can come into the College a few different ways:
- Member of the public – a parent, family member, Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) or other member of the public contact the College to report concerns about the action(s) or behaviour of an RECE. These complaints can come into the College in a variety of ways (e.g., email, phone call and social media).
- Mandatory Employer Report – employers have a duty to report when they become aware of an RECE engaging in professional misconduct. Employers complete a detailed report which they send to the College.
- Information from another organization – in some instances, we receive information from other community partners, such as the Children’s Aid Society, local police units or the Ministry of Education.
In each and every instance, the complaint goes through a formal initial review process. This process involves determining if the complaint has merit, if it relates to professional misconduct and whether or not there is a risk to the public and what the level of risk is. The risk assessment allows us to triage complaints so the most serious can be managed first.
Informing the RECE
If the initial review determines that the complaint has merit and falls within our jurisdiction, the RECE named in the complaint will be informed and given 60 days to respond. This gives the RECE the opportunity to share their perspective on the incident(s) or concern(s). If the complaint was received from a member of the public, a copy of the RECE’s response is shared with that individual for their review and comment(s).
The College performs an impartial investigation of the concern(s) outlined in the complaint. This could involve talking to employers, colleagues or other individuals who may be able to provide relevant information.
Following the completion of the investigation, the RECE receives the results and is provided with another opportunity to respond to the information collected.
Once we receive the RECE’s final response, the Complaints Committee meets to review the full complaint file.
The role of the Complaints Committee
The Complaints Committee (the Committee) consists of both elected Council members, publicly appointed members and non-Council Committee members. The Committee members are provided with specialized training and a risk assessment framework to support their work to review and assess complaints.
“The Committee considers and investigates written complaints regarding the conduct or actions of RECEs,” says Pauline Walters, Director of Professional Regulation. “They determine the appropriate action to be taken, which may include providing detailed guidance so the RECE can improve his or her practice.”
How do we determine the level of risk to the public? We use a risk assessment framework, which includes examining:
- The impact on the child(ren) involved in the incident(s);
- Whether it is a single incident or pattern of behaviour;
- The RECE’s previous history with the College. For example, if they have terms, conditions of limitations on their membership based on a previous incident;
- If the employer had policies in place the RECE did not adhere to; and
- The RECE’s level of professional practice knowledge.
The Committee has the authority to decide the following:
- Take no further action;
- Require the RECE to appear before a member of the Complaints Committee to receive a verbal caution;
- Refer the most serious complaints to the Discipline Committee for a hearing; or
- Refer a serious complaint to the Fitness to Practise Committee for a hearing if there are health issues affecting the RECE’s ability to practice.
What happens when the Committee decides a hearing isn’t necessary?
If the Committee decides a hearing isn’t appropriate, they may determine that no further action is required (e.g., the complaint is unrelated to professional misconduct) or that it requires a verbal caution. In both instances, the Committee provides their written decision and reason(s) for decision to the RECE and person who filed the complaint. The Committee takes the time to identify areas of concern in their reasons and provide recommendations. These are to support the RECE in improving their practice. The Committee also reminds them of their professional obligations and responsibilities under the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
“It’s important we provide recommendations to help RECEs in their future practice decisions,” Pauline says. “The Committee makes suggestions on what the RECE could have done instead, and provides strategies they can use in the future. This is part of what we do to uphold our mandate.”
In addition to sharing the reasons the complaint wasn’t referred to discipline, the RECE may also be encouraged to consider incorporating related learning and development activities to their Continuous Professional Learning plan.
Who gets a copy of the complaints committee decision?
If the complaint was filed by a member of the public: The RECE named in the complaint and the member of the public receive a copy of the decision.
In each instance, the Committee decision is provided to the RECE and also to their current employer.
What information is made public?
Complaints Committee decisions and the information about a complaint are confidential. This information is not made publicly available.
If the complaint results in a referral for a hearing, the hearing information is made available on the Public Register and the College’s website.
Does the complaint remain on my College file?
Yes. The College retains conduct history information. We take this prior conduct history into account if we receive any new complaints about an RECE.
Does the Complaints Committee revoke memberships for serious incidents?
No. The Committee does not have the ability to revoke or suspend an RECE’s registration certificate. Their ultimate role is to decide if the concerns raised and the information to support the concerns are sufficient, and if they’re serious enough to be referred for a hearing.
What resources does the College typically recommend to support practice and promote positive outcomes for children?
To support your practice approach, we have a number of resources for you:
Other useful resources
- Case Studies and Scenarios to help you reflect on practice
- College Talk, our official blog, which includes articles to support you in practice.