Program aims to certify early childhood educators

By Sandi Krasowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Thunder Bay, Ont. — A new partnership between Confederation College and the Thunder Bay District Social Services Board (TBDSSAB) will provide an opportunity for individuals currently employed in early-year childcare programs and centres the ability to obtain their Early Childhood Education diploma.

The Fast-Track ECE program is designed to offer qualified students a prior learning assessment and flexible course delivery over a period of 15 months.

Kathleen Lynch, college president, says early childhood education and many other professions require workers to belong to a corresponding professional association to be recognized as qualified to work in that field.

“Because of the shortage of early childhood educators, employers are hiring people who are not qualified because they really need people,” Lynch said. “This way, they can now take those people who’ve been working in the field for a number of years and make sure that they’re qualified in the work that they’re doing.”

Lynch pointed out that certification is an important step to ensure the workers meet the required childcare regulations.

“And that means that you have graduated with a diploma in early childhood education,” she added.

Nancy Ibey, co-ordinator of the Fast-Track ECE initiative, says the program is aimed at licensing individuals working in the childcare sector as qualified, registered early childhood educators with the College of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario.

“This new program will provide access to vital education for those who have already chosen careers in early years and childcare settings, which supports our overall retention and workforce development strategy,” Ibey said. “The Fast Track program will provide a central, critical and foundational knowledge to those already working in the field while also being mindful of the childcare crisis in the district and the province.”

Ibey noted that the program, which will begin in mid-June, is delivered through a combination of online coursework and portfolio development. It provides a prior learning assessment and placements with no need for learners to leave their communities.

“But we do have limited seating,” she added. “That’s why it’s important for everyone to get their applications in as soon as they can.”

Bill Bradica, chief administrative officer for TBDSSAB, says the fast-track program is an exciting opportunity to grow the number of educators in the district.

“We’ve seen the impact that staffing shortages have had on families in need of child care,” he said, adding how grateful TBDSSAB is for this partnership with the college.

To register for the Fast-Track ECE program, email