Humber is launching a new Early Child Education diploma program (ECE) in collaboration with Peel Region.
It will start in January 2024 and will run for 4 semesters, until April 2025. Though the college already has a similar program, this one aims to provide accessible learning for Peel residents in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. To achieve that, classes will be delivered in a hybrid mode, with most of them online and only one or two in-person at Humber’s North Campus.
“The variety of modes of delivery of how students will learn is something that is intended to reduce barriers to access for folks who may be coming from equity deserving communities, and who may have had limited opportunities in the past to access formal education”, says program manager Saima Sheikh.
She says, unlike the college’s regular ECE program, this one will be fully funded (mostly by the Ontario Provincial Government) and the costs of textbooks and tuition will be fully covered. Additionally, students’ first aid training will be paid and they will have access to a monthly living expense allowance for the duration of their studies.
Sheikh says the reason for creating this educational initiative is a staff shortage in the field, both in Canada generally and in Peel particularly. The region is currently unable to implement the federal government’s 10-dollar-a-day childcare policy because of a lack of workers.
“Because we have a shortage of staff, Peel can’t implement the 10 dollars a day policy. So if we start preparing more childcare professionals through accessible learning, it will fasten the process”, she says.
Sheikh says the program will offer a wide variety of courses, from child development and family perspectives to social justice. Students will also have a field placement, where they’ll practice their professional skills. They’ll practice every semester, two times a week.
“For each semester, the goal is to have them work with a different age range within the Early Years sector so that they have rich experiences of working with kids. They’ll understand how children think, interact, participate in their environment; they’ll learn how children socialize, how they grow and develop, what their interests are. But most importantly students will learn how to stimulate children so that they are growing into confident young folks as they move through their own life journey”, says Sheikh.
Helping kids socialize and find their confidence may be particularly important right now. According to Tonja Armstrong-MacInnis, the Director of Humber’s Child Development Centre at North, since the end of the pandemic, many children had challenges navigating their emotions and communication with peers.
“Right now, based out of COVID, we’re seeing quite a few children with some social, emotional and self-regulation issues. Many of them were at home or didn’t have exposure to anyone beyond their family during the pandemic. So now it’s difficult for them to be in a group with other kids”, says MacInnis.
She says having more educators to support children is the key to solving this problem and the ECE-Peel initiative could be a good start.
But the future of the program is uncertain. As of now, it’s a one-time project and whether or not to prolong it will depend on its success. The program has a limited number of 50 enrollment spots. Prospective students are currently making applications.