Thompson Rivers University

Early childhood education research receives provincial boost

  Posted on: July 17, 2019

Project designed to increase support for educators and reduce attrition in the field

KAMLOOPS – Thompson Rivers University (TRU) researcher Dr. Laura Doan will be able to do more to help early childhood educators (ECEs) stay in the profession, thanks to a $575,000 grant from the Ministry for Children and Family Development through the Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre. This funding is part of the three-year $153-million Early Learning and Child Care agreement between the Government of Canada and the Province of BC.

“Investing in early childhood educators is a major step toward giving every child in British Columbia access to high-quality early learning opportunities so they can have the best start in life and a fair chance to succeed,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

“Our government understands that BC parents need more access to child care. We’re building new child-care spaces as quickly as we can and working hard to boost the number of ECEs to staff them,” said Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy. “We’ve already launched a comprehensive strategy to boost supports for our early care and learning professionals. This research goes hand-in-hand with that and helps us understand what we need to do to recruit and retain ECEs.”

In BC, up to half of all ECEs leave the profession within five years, reducing access to affordable child care and limiting the sector’s ability to grow for the future.

In light of this, Doan, an associate professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, is leading the development of programs that keep educators in the field. The funds announced today will support the research project, Peer Mentoring for Early Childhood Educators in BC. Conducted in collaboration with the Early Childhood Educators of BC, the project is designed to stem the flow of ECEs out of the field through the development of a provincewide peer mentoring network which will offer ongoing professional development and expand infrastructure for both new and experienced educators. This furthers research that Doan began several years ago with early childhood educators in the Kamloops community.

“The initial peer mentoring work has been based on what educators in the field said they wanted, and is building on the success we’ve had locally. Our community and the university valued this research, and enabled me to continue and to get the word out about the project,” Doan said.

“Early childhood educators are vital to the health and wellbeing of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, and this kind of research being conducted right here in our community, will create necessary improvements with provincial impact,” said Dr. Brett Fairbairn, President and Vice-Chancellor, Thompson Rivers University.

Attracting and retaining qualified early childhood educators is of the utmost importance as we build a system for publicly funded early learning and care. Our partnership with TRU is an exciting way to go deeper into this work and we are thrilled with this opportunity,” said Pam Preston, Executive Director, Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre.

Doan is a leader in her field and has been dedicated to supporting early child-care professionals since arriving at TRU as a part-time instructor 19 years ago. Recruitment and retention in the field of early learning has long had a negative impact on the sector’s growth, and staffing shortages mean that those who remain have little relief.

“I’ve seen such value in not just working directly with early childhood educators, but in involving them in the research. They know what they need, and understand the stresses of their jobs, so this project has always been community-led and informed by the groups that I’m working to support,” Doan said.


Dr. Laura Doan, Associate Professor
Faculty of Education and Social Work