Make Early Childhood Education an Eligible Occupation for Student Loan Forgiveness

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There is a child care crisis in British Columbia (BC). The government is currently providing funding for child care spaces to help meet the needs of families however there is a dire shortage of qualified Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) to fill the new positions that are inevitably needed. Communities are not able to open new early childhood education and care programs for families because there are not enough ECEs to work in them. This shortage extends to there being a lack of qualified staff to work with young children who have special needs and must have extra support in the early years program they attend. 

Despite the requirement for professional training to be able to work in a licensed facility as well as having the responsibility to provide quality education for young children, ECE's have historically been paid low wages for the work they do.The cost of living in BC has skyrocketed in the last twenty years. Many education students who are interested in early childhood education as a career would like to work with young children as an ECE but decide to do something else because the high cost of education combined with the low wages that ECEs earn is not sustainable. 

If early childhood education students did not have to pay exorbitant tuition fees to work in such a low paying profession, perhaps the child care crisis in BC could be mitigated. The BC loan forgiveness program eligibility criteria is for "select in-demand occupations" and those "working with children in occupations where there is an identified shortage in B.C." Early childhood education is an in-demand occupation where there is an identified shortage in BC. ECE's provide early intervention service in the classroom and work closely with early intervention therapists. Early intervention therapists qualify for the loan forgiveness program but ECEs do not. It is time for the government to make the profession of early childhood education eligible for the BC loan forgiveness program.