I have been the director at Heritage Park Child Care Centre in Mission, British Columbia for over 21 years and I have the most dedicated, loving, and caring team for the children that we serve.
In October of 2018, my oldest son unexpectedly passed away while playing a men’s hockey game. He was 22 years old. My world shattered and I immediately was absent from work. My team showed me such support and love through those first weeks, and I knew that I was blessed to have them by my side. During this difficult time, I was also trying to complete the paperwork necessary to be a $10aDay Government Prototype site, as we had been chosen to participate in that pilot project.
Fast forward to November 23rd, 2018 when two of my staff found that someone had left a newborn infant in our dumpster out front of our child care centre. This was just six weeks after my son had passed. My staff were nothing short of amazing on that day; they calmly had to call parents to come to pick up their children, while simultaneously sheltering the children from what had just transpired. The infant was found alive, but sadly passed away about five days later in the hospital. Understandably, the two employees who had discovered the infant went off work immediately, so I had no choice but to return as we didn’t have enough staff to continue operating.I was nowhere ready, but I went.
I share the above with you, so you can see how we got to where we are today. Of the two staff, one of them returned to work, the other never did. She eventually moved three hours away, just to try to start over. My point is, that through all this tragedy, we became such a close and tight knit group. It opened our hearts even more to the families and their children. When you suffer such pain and tragedy, you learn that life is precious, and love is to be given. All the staff here are so deeply connected through these incidents that forever changed us; we can see when someone is having a hard day, and we can help carry the load for that person. Our saying here is, “we will make it work.” That is what a team does; that is what we do each and every day. Our child care centre is our haven.
My staff are the most caring and compassionate group of Early Childhood Educators; they show up every day with a smile on their face, and they fill the children’s day with excitement, wonderment, and laughter. Not only have they all earned my admiration and respect, but they have done the same with the families that we serve. Our families are consistently telling me how grateful they are for us and our programs, and how fortunate they feel to be a part of our centre. Every family should feel this way— the market-based, patchwork child care system leaves large gaps in quality and programming from centre to centre.
My staff are not just employees, they are my family and they are my heroes. They, along with all Early Childhood Educators, deserve recognition for the crucial care work that they do. This recognition comes in the form of decent pay and working conditions. My hope is that the federal Budget 2021 will bring about such positive change.
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