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An anonymous donor is contributing $1.4 million to expand the peer-mentoring program for Early Childhood Educators (ECE) over the next three years at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) to keep them from leaving the profession.
Almost half of all ECEs leave the profession in their first five years, and a shortage of day-care spaces is becoming more and more prevalent in BC. Retaining these educators is important for affordable and safe child care.
The funding will go towards work headed by TRU Associate Professor Dr. Laura Doan in partnership with the Early Childhood Educators of BC.
Doan started the mentorship program as a pilot project in Kamloops in 2018 based on what early childhood educators said they needed.
The pilot grew to involve 17 peer-mentoring community-of-practice groups throughout BC, each of them with six pairing of one experienced and one beginning early childhood educator.
The project ended in 2020 with 200 ECEs and 20 facilitators, this new funding will allow the project to not only continue but expand to 35 peer-mentoring communities, with close to 500 early childhood educators to take part.
Participants from the pilot project say it is the reason they remained in the field, as peer mentoring has kept them from feeling isolated and frustrated.
“This experience demonstrates what is possible when we support early childhood educators in the way they should be supported. This shows me what can work when you give ECEs the opportunity to come together to support each other, they are able to come up with their own solutions. I walked away with so much respect.”
“With this funding, we aim to firmly embed peer mentoring within the early childhood education culture in BC, as well as within the professional association representing ECEs in BC, the Early Childhood Educators of BC,” said Doan.
The peer-mentoring network is one tool in making it easier for early childhood educators to do their jobs ensuring the wellbeing of society’s youngest members.
It is important to note that these are peer mentors, not a mentor/mentee relationship. Although one of the peers is likely to have more experience, the other brings fresh learning and perspectives that they are able to learn from and support each other.
“We are pleased to see recognition of the need for supports for early childhood educators, especially finding a way where they can help each other to build their resiliency and retain them in the profession,” said Emily Gawlick, executive director of Early Childhood Educators of BC.
“This project is finding a way to improve retention of early childhood educators as well as raising the bar for all of them professionally as they share their experiences and learning.”