Promoting the ECE Profession in Lanark County

Who Says That Promoting the ECE Profession Can't Be Fun?

By Tammy Kealey-Donaldson

August 2022

Lanark County is located West of Ottawa, it is known as the Maple Syrup capital of Ontario. More recently, it is recognized for its Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Dino campaign which has proven to be a huge success. We could have never predicted the amount of phone calls and interest created by our Dino. As you enter our community you are greeted with a friendly, larger than life dinosaur billboard encouraging people to become a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) professional.

Promotion of the Sector

Lanark County Children‘s Services team is known for thinking outside of the box. We promote the sector by getting out in the community. You can find us at local festivals, movies in the park, job fairs, high schools, our local college and licensee‘s events. The Consolidated Municipal System Manager (CMSM) promotes the sector via promotional videos, Facebook, local TV, radio (both in ads and interviews) and children stickers stating ECE‘s are Dino-mite. 

Working with Our Local Community College

The ECE program taking place at our local community college is critical for Lanark County to be able to address the ongoing demands for ECE's. Most students approximately 85 % who attend the Perth campus of Algonquin College come from Lanark County or surrounding area. Students have expressed the desire to attend their local college as they prefer being close to home,  cost savings and a more personalized education. The compressed format of having the program over 42 weeks is also an advantage. As the CMSM we know our students personally and see them while on placements or afterwards when they have been hired. The biggest challenge presently is to be able to maintain the numbers of ECE students required to keep the program operating. Efforts are being made to attract ECE's from across Ontario who are interested in both obtaining their education and working in a rural setting with all the benefits that go along with it.

Connecting Students with Licensees and Operators

We welcome RECE students and enlighten them on the role of the CMSM, and the support we provide throughout their career. We host events where students can meet Licensees and have on the spot interviews prior to graduation. Students are invited to all our training events and receive a personalized graduation card upon completion of our local ECE program. Forming relationships and making ourselves available to students has proven to be invaluable. Additionally, we support Licensees in their hiring practices by posting job ads on our Facebook page, answering calls from our Dino campaign, and responding to enquires from our website. We pride ourselves in ensuring a warm handoff to prospective employers.

Community Partnerships

The key to our success has been strong ties with our community partners. Our department was in the advantageous position of having formed solid relationships and being part of several committees. 
To promote the sector, we work with: 
  • School Boards 
  • Employment Ontario 
  • Labour Market Group 
  • Works Matters 
  • Local Immigration Partnership 
  • Family and Children Services 
  • KEYS (local employment centre)
  • Youth groups, just to name few
Internally, we continue to work with our Ontario Works department. Finally, our employment strategy not only includes ECEs but cleaners and cooks as well. 
Our partnership with the alternative school, offering programs for students interested in working in those fields helps to ensure positions are filled. The resourcefulness of our rural community and commitment to problem solving has served us well.

Retention of our ECE Workforce

Mentorship Program and Succession Planning 

Lanark County has made paramount the mental health and wellbeing of our ECEs and prioritized training in compassion fatigue. The CMSM has advocated for the profession and our Council is appreciative of the sector and the important role they play in our community.

Our mentorship program brings together those who have been identified as potential leaders in their organizations. They have taken part in information sessions related to diversity in hiring practices, Human Resources, Inclusiveness training, Indigenous practices and creating solid partnerships within a school setting.

The CMSM has put an emphasis on succession planning and the importance of preparing for transition. Staff are given opportunities to learn and develop new skill sets which allows for growth, development and sustains their interest.

We have cultivated a custom of Licensees sharing resources such as tools, best practices, polices with each other. Licensees do not see each other as competition but rather have formed strong working relationships. Directors have provided training to other directors from various agencies as the overall goal is to provide the best service to our community. Pooling our resources together and creating partnerships has been a successful approach.

Finally, we hold steadfast in our belief that Lanark County is not only a great place to work but a wonderful community to live in.

About the Author

Tammy Kealey-Donaldson has over 30 year's experience working in various roles in the Social Services Department of Lanark County. She has worked as a caseworker, workshop facilitator, family support worker, manager of Ontario Works specializing in employment and most recently as the manger of Children's Services.

Lanark County's Children Services was a receipent of the 2021 Local Municipal Champion Award. Click here to learn more about our 2021 Awards recipients. 

Blog categories: Children's Services, Child Care, Workforce Retention