Contesting and Reconceptualizing the Care in Early Education and Child Care Policies in Canada

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Rachel LANGFORD, Ryerson University, Canada
Brooke RICHARDSON, Ryerson University, Canada
Kate BEZANSON, Brock University, Canada
Susan PRENTICE, University of Manitoba, Canada
Patrizia ALBANESE, Ryerson University, Canada
As part of gaining insight into current conceptualizations of care and gender in the Canadian early childhood education and care (ECEC) context, recently released government (federal and provincial) documents addressing childcare and its workforce were analyzed. Overall, the analyses reveals that while these documents aim to restructure/revision the Canadian childcare sector, there is an explicit effort to move beyond care to a conceptualization of services that embraces “learning” and “development” and “education”. While the term “child care” is frequently used to refer to programs and services themselves, justification for government investment/leadership in the childcare sector is almost always achieved through a futuristic, outcome-based education lens. Caring experiences for children, families and a highly gendered workforce – precisely what is emphasized in ethics of care theory - is never prioritized as the main goal of childcare. From our perspective this is a major problem as the importance and value of respectful, responsive relationships is the cornerstone of quality childcare experiences. If this is consistently downplayed or overlooked – or equated with low-level custodial services – than policy solutions will never address the real needs of young children, their families and the ECEC workforce. This paper critically assesses alternative ways to reconceptualise care in childcare to elicit concerted support and action for careful and ethical policy solutions.