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Partners in Quality Series

Canadian Child Care Federation, 1999-2000. 24–40 pages. ISBN 0-9685157-2X.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Based on the research papers of the Canadian Child Care Federation’s Partners in Quality Project, these four booklets help teachers, families, and communities work together to support and improve quality in child care, wherever it takes place.

1. Issues. This booklet explores both the traditional basis of quality—regulation—and some newer ideas about what matters, including salaries, peer support, the relationship between teacher and child, and the participation of children, families, and the community in creating care that suits their needs.

2. Relationships. Strong relationships with families improve your interaction with the children you care for and are an important key to quality. Relationships focuses on families and looks hard at what happens to relationships and children when teachers and families come from different cultures. There is also a guide to self-reflective practice, which can help to resolve some of the difficulties.

3. Infrastructure. How do the unseen underpinnings of a child care program—wages, working conditions, the director’s administrative style—influence your job satisfaction and child care quality? Here is a panoramic view of infrastructure in the field of early care and education, including support groups, mentoring, credentialing, and professionalization.

4. Communities. Community partnerships—the North American version of “It takes a village to raise a child”—are very much in the air these days. But what exactly is a community partnership, and how do partnerships help children, families, and child care? This booklet explores this new frontier and tells you how to get involved.

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Excerpts from Partners in Quality

From Volume 1, Issues
What is quality in child care?
That’s the question the Canadian Child Care Federation’s Partners in Quality Project has been wrestling with for the past two years. Why?

  • because the first six years of life are crucial for children’s development;
  • because the parents of almost 800,000 children under the age of six were working or studying full time in 1996, and most of those children were in child care;
  • because children’s well-being and development suffer when they have poor quality care, and even an advantaged family background can’t protect them.

But in our multicultural society, where so many children are struggling with poverty, divorce and violence, and families are increasingly diverse, isolated and stressed, what exactly is quality child care?

What does the research say? What do the commentators say? And just how do we get from the academic papers—from “structural, contextual and process elements”—to the caregiver making play dough in her kitchen in rural Alberta and the children she sees every day?

Quality in child care certainly isn’t a new subject, and this is by no means the Canadian Child Care Federation’s first run at it. (Nor will it be the last!) But child care is coming of age, and as it matures, it is becoming more thoughtful and analytical about itself. There is a lot of disagreement about what quality is, and we’ve talked far into the night to make sense of the issues.

What have we found? Something old, something new, something borrowed—and some new research to back up old ideas. But this is the bottom line: as you probably suspected, the front-line workers are what matters most when it comes to quality.

So hold on tight. Together we are about to embark on a wild road trip in search of the meaning of quality child care in Canada. This won’t be an easy ride—it’s filled with potholes, curves and dirt roads. But we hope it will inspire you—to reflect, to unpack your suitcases and linger, to revisit some of the sights later, either alone or with your colleagues.

From Volume 2, Relationships
Teaching children about differences
Many child care practitioners grew up learning that people’s similarities are more important than their differences, that all people are the same inside, and that talking about differences promotes prejudice.

As the child care field becomes more aware of the dominance of mainstream North American culture, it is becoming clear that emphasizing similarities contributes to prejudice: it has made the white experience the norm and denied that anyone else’s experience matters. This state of affairs does not promote the development of a healthy self-concept in children of any culture.

It has also become clear that when practitioners downplay differences, they miss out on wonderful opportunities to help children learn more about one another’s lives, to tell the story of their many cultural heritages, to confront discrimination and stereotypes, to teach children to understand and interact comfortably with differences.

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The Partners in Quality series is available from the Canadian Child Care Federation.

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