Affordable Child Care Better Positions Families to Participate in the Workforce and Stimulate Economy


    October 24, 2017

    Affordable Child Care Better Positions Families to Participate in the Workforce and Stimulate

    Financing Funds Directly to Child Care Will Do More for Parents’ Participation in the Workforce than a Boost to the Canada Child Benefit

    The Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF) and its affiliates from across Canada have welcomed the recent leadership in starting to bring the multi-lateral framework to realization, placing early learning and child care rightfully back into the federal government’s policy and budgetary commitments.

    Today’s announcement by Finance Minister Morneau to increase the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is touted as a means to stimulate the economy through growth in labour-force participation due to the
    payments to parents, which, as quoted by Stephen Poloz, Governor of the Bank of Canada, “encouraged stay-at-home parents to re-enter the workforce because the financial supports could help pay for child care.” However, if this government’s financial policy really seeks to encourage stay-at-home parents to re-enter the workforce, it must fund child care itself, making it accessible, of high quality and affordable to parents. As Pierre Fortin’s research has shown in Quebec, funds to child care directly will much better position Canadian families to participate fully in the work force and hence stimulate the economy.

    The CCCF expects federal leadership to create the necessary inter-related policies, programs and outcomes for children and families across Canada. Infrastructure support for national leadership and capacity building of the child care sector, long ignored, needs to be a part of the federal government’s
    financial commitments to child care in Canada.

    Establishing child care delivery priorities will ultimately create a comprehensive child care system
    rather than one-off solutions, for all Canadians.

    Media Contact:
    Don Giesbrecht,
    CEO Canadian Child Care Federation
    Ph: 613-729-5289 (220) or 204-223-9369

    October 24, 2017 Finance Minister Morneau’s Child Benefit Increase

    2017 CCCF Board Nominees






    A call for board nominations was put forward to CCCF members in May 2017 and we are very proud to announce that the following nine individuals applied for nomination and election for the six available seats on the CCCF board for three-year terms starting November 15/17-November 14/20:

    Name:             Joan Arruda

    From:             Toronto, ON

    Current Job: CEO, Family Day Care Services

    Professional Membership: Member of the Home Child Care Association of Ontario (HCCAO) and a member of the CCCF

    Past Roles/Work with a Provincial/Territorial Child Care Association: Association Early Childhood Educators Ontario, Board Member/Treasurer 2001-2006 Home Child Care Association of Ontario, Board Member (2005- present) Ontario Early Years Provincial Network – Co-chair (2007-2011) Quality Early Learning Network, Co-Chair (2010- Present)

    Past Roles/Work with a National OrganizationCurrent board member (Director) of the CCCF

    Other Work/Volunteer History: CEO, Family Day Care Services (2004-Present) Executive Director, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office – 2000-2004 Supervisor – 1989-2000 – Red Apple Day Care College Instructor, Seneca College, Continuing Ed. (1991-2001) Flemingdon Community Health Centre, Board Member- Treasurer – (1999-2007)

    Reason/Goals/Purpose to Join the CCCF Board: All children and their families deserve access to high quality, affordable, early learning services in their local community. These services should be offered by valued early learning professionals who are well compensated. These early learning professionals should also be able to access long term continuous education and training to further enhance services for children. My interest in running for election again for the CCCF board is to contribute to the national conversation based on my own learning from working with provincial and local organizations.

    Name:             Cottes, Linda

    From:             Toronto, ON

    Current Job:  Senior Vice President Child & Family Development, YMCA of Greater Toronto

    Professional Membership: Canadian Child Care Federation

    Past Roles/Work with a Provincial/Territorial Child Care Association: Elected Council Member with the Ontario College of Early Childhood Educators. Executive Committee member for the College of ECE’s. Chair of Complaints Committee for the College of ECE’s. Co-chair of a network of non-profit child care agencies in Ontario, the Quality Early Learning Network. Current Chair of Advisory Committee for the YMCA’s of Ontario.  Current Expert Panel member on Early Years Capital Standards in Schools.  Current Member of the Minister of Early Years Advisory.

    Past Roles/Work with a National Organization: Current board member (Director) of the CCCF; Lead Association for National YMCA play based curriculum. Responsible for training, assessment and ongoing delivery.

    Other Work/Volunteer History: Current co-chair of the Quality Early Leaning Network (Ontario); Registered Early Childhood Educator with 35 years of experience. Responsible for 280 child care sites, with 29,000 licensed spaces supported by 3000 outstanding educators.

     Reason/Goals/Purpose to Join the CCCF Board:For 38 years I have been committed to moving the profession forward, bringing recognition to the importance of Early Learning and the importance of continuous learning for the educators. I have grown up in this profession and led my Association through a significant amount of change, particularly in the last seven years, with the changes to child care in the province of Ontario (transitioning to full day Kindergarten, Early Learning modernization, the College of ECE’s). I have been actively engaged with this change, striving for a system that is supportive to families, committing to high quality early learning environments for children. A significant amount of change is still required in Ontario, but it is going in the right direction. I would like to leverage my provincial knowledge to inform at the national level and learn more at the national level to inform my work at the provincial level. I believe my knowledge and experience would be an asset to the Board and I would love to have the opportunity to engage in national conversations about excellence in Early Learning and Child Care.

    Name:             Fowler Massie, Laura

     From:             Chelsea, Quebec

     Current Job: Department Coordinator, Early Childhood Care and Education at Cegep Heritage College

     Professional Membership: Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF)

     Past Roles/Work with a Provincial/Territorial Child Care Association: NA

     Past Roles/Work with a National Organization: NA

    Other Work/Volunteer History: Andrew Fleck Child Care Services,   Ottawa, ON Supervisor-Head Teacher; Variety Child Care Services, Ottawa, ON: Head Teacher: Toddler Program; Chelsea Cooperative Nursery School: Chelsea, Quebec Teaching Director; Parent Resource Centre Ottawa, ON: Coordinator – Drop In Program ; Parent Resource Centre Ottawa, ON: Coordinator; Quintet Consulting Corporation, Ottawa, ON: Manager – Client Relations and Business Development; Charlemagne Child Care Services, Orleans, ON: Supervisor

    Reason/Goals/Purpose to Join the CCCF Board: I hold a diploma in ECE from Algonquin College, a B.A. in Psychology from Carleton University and a Masters of Education with a specialization in college teaching, from the University of Sherbrooke. With more than thirty years in the field I have taught in licensed child care, co-op nursery schools and family resource programs.

    I am excited to meet and work with like-minded professionals who are as passionate about early child development as I am. I have a particular interest in play within full-day kindergarten and elementary classrooms. I have a strong interest in supporting teachers in best practices in inquiry-based curriculum. I am particularly curious about teachers perceptions of play as a path to deep learning for children. With the implementation of documents such as “ELECT” and “How Learning Happens” I wonder if the notion of play as a best practice has been fully embraced or is it still perceived as a four letter word within elementary education?

    In addition to that, I am also passionate about promoting and advocating for all aspects of early learning and child care with a particular interest in supporting ECE’s knowledge of aboriginal early learning practices. This fall I will undertake a special project on behalf of my college with a focus on strengthening reciprocal partnerships with aboriginal and first nations family support and early learning settings. I hope to create fieldwork opportunities for our aboriginal and non-aboriginal ECE students in friendship centres, Head-start programs, family support programs and other programs providing services to indigenous peoples. I have attached my proposal for your information.

    I am also a certified hatha yoga teacher with special training in teaching yoga to children. I am exploring the possibility of creating a training program for ECE’s who would like to teach relaxation, mindfulness and stress reduction to children. My idea is to train ECE’s to deliver this program free of charge in communities and schools where children may be particularly at-risk and who may not have access to expensive mainstream programs.?

    Finally, I would like to mention that I am very interested in early learning and child care on a global level. I have been involved in taking ECE students to remote villages in Guatemala for the past five years. This two week humanitarian project exposes my ECE students to the challenges families and children face when living in extreme poverty. It has been my experience that this kind of deep learning and subsequent reflection supports my ECE students world views and empowers them to excel in their own personal practice at educators of young children.

     Name:             Hees, Carla

     From:             Westbank, BC

    Current Job: Completing studies in the Community Care Facilities Licensing Officer program at the Justice Institute of BC.

    Professional Membership: Early Childhood Educators of BC (ECEBC), Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF), BC Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS)

     Past Roles/Work with a Provincial/Territorial Child Care Association:

    Immediate Past President, ECEBC; BC Affiliate representative to the  Canadian Child Care Federation: CCCF—Award of Excellence Review Committee Member; Working Group ECEBC Leadership Initiative Evaluation Process; Working Group ECEBC Innoweve Strategic Clarity Work; ECEBC Provincial Conference Planning Committee; ECEBC Provincial Leadership Days; Provincial Board Member Early Childhood Educators of BC

     Past Roles/Work with a National Organization: Representative for the working group Human Services Child Care Sector Council Occupational Standards for Child Care Administrators; National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) World Conference Workshop Selection Committee

    Other Work/Volunteer History: Prime Ministers Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education Selection Committee; Child Health BC/ Provincial Office for the Early Years-Early Years Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Advisory Committee; Member of the Peer Review Grant Committee for First People’s Heritage Language Culture Council BC; BC Rural Early Childhood Development Steering Committee; Vancouver Coastal Aboriginal Early Childhood Development Committee Member ; Manitoba Child Care Association –Member; Richmond Child Care Resource and Referral Program; Richmond City Council Child Care Development Board; Richmond City Child Care Advisory Council; Women in Business Powell River; Early Years Partnership Collaboration Table Kelowna, BC: CATCH Advisory Table (Community Action Towards Children’s Health) Kelowna, BC; Contributor to the First People’s Heritage Language Culture Council BC Language Nest Handbook for B.C.; First Nations Communities Fundraising and Committee; Planning Chair Pediatric Cancer- Cops Against Cancer BC: Chair of the Powell River, BC 0-6 Community Based Children’s Programs Building Blocks Committee; Past President Powell River, BC Branch of the Early Childhood Educators of BC; Chair Powell River, BC Ages and Stages Community Family Event; Co-Chair 35th Annual Powell River, BC Community Preschool Family Day; Co-Chair Powell River, BC Ages and Stages Community Family Event; Success by Six Round Table Discussions with Provincial Stakeholders Richmond, BC; Success by Six Committee Chair Bella Bella, BC; Leadership Forum Participant- Many Voices, Common Cause – Aboriginal Leadership Forum on ECD Province of BC

     Reason/Goals/Purpose to Join the CCCF Board:

    1. Improving the quality of early learning and child care services for Canadian families by implementing services and facilitating information for Canada’s child care sector.

    As a professional Early Childhood Educator, I made a commitment to the profession 32 years ago to always advocate for increasing the quality of Early Learning and Child Care Services for all families across Canada.

    It is my ongoing personal and professional responsibility to actively engage in Early Years tables, associations. I am fortunate enough, that as I engage in professional dialogue and collaborative work at the various Early Years tables I am involved with, that I can bring forth information and various initiatives forward in a respectful and proactive manner to help CCCF achieve excellence in Early Care and Learning.

    The work that I have been involved with has provided me opportunities to Chair Early Years meetings, set strategic workplans, implement community wide events and contribute to written reports for professionals.

    If you ask fellow Early Care and Learning Professionals who know me, they would share these reflections about how I have strived to improve the quality of early learning and child care services for Canadian families through implementing services for Canada’s child care sector….

    “Carla is a passionate and committed Early Childhood Educator for all children and their families.”

    “She is actively engaged with members and is involved and committed to hands on work for the profession and for raising the standards for professionalism.”

    “Carla does not shy away from being actively involved. She is level headed and understands the importance of collaborative work both Provincially and Nationally.”

    “Carla is personable, energetic and is committed to the Early Years profession”

    “Carla has demonstrated that she believes and advocates for a system of early care and learning can be implemented and sustained. Throughout her professional involvement at various levels she remains dedicated to the creation of a National early care and learning framework that will be sustained with adequate with long term funding.”

    2. Supporting the development and activities of Canada’s Provincial and Territorial child care associations

     As the Past President for the Early Childhood Educators of BC I have been honored to the BC Affiliate representative for CCCF. In the position of the BC affiliate representative for CCCF it provided many opportunities to support other organizations and engage in dialogue around the ongoing work of Canada’s Provincial and Territorial Child Care Associations.

    When I attended Child Care 2020 in Winnipeg in 2014, I met with and networked with many professionals across the country. Many of these professionals represented many of Canada’s Provincial and Territorial Child Care Associations and we forged a professional bond that continues I believe has made us stronger and even more untied.

    I also had the opportunity to meet other representatives and work alongside the CCCF Board of Directors in a successful face to face meeting in Ottawa in 2016. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of face to face meetings and how meetings like this help to develop respectful and collaborative relationships.

    I also support the development and activities of Canada’s Provincial and Territorial Child Care Associations by continuing to have my finger on the pulse. I ensure that I am continually informed as to the work that other Provincial and Territorial Associations are involved in, this is gathered through the websites organizations, CCCF e-news as well as social media.

    One way of also being informed what is taking place in the Early Care and Learning profession in other Provinces and Territories is being actively involved in both the CCCF Awards of Excellence Selection Committee and the selection committee for Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. Through the volunteer work on the selection committees, I have spent countless hours being impacted and informed by the incredible professional work of professionals in the various organizations across the country. The stories, reflections and observations of professionals have not only informed me about the work that is taking place but have deeply moved me as a professional.

    I also support the continued work of all organizations by being a long time professional member of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada as it brings a Coast to Coast to Coast perspective on child care. I have also been a long time professional member of CCCF. I also have the unique perspective of having been a past member of the Manitoba Child Care Association.  I am a current member of the Early Childhood Educators of BC and BC Aboriginal Child Care Society.

    I have a deep commitment and understanding that through my own professional work Regionally, Provincially and Nationally it is crucial to honor diversity in each of our Provinces and Territories.

    3. Providing information and facilitating communication among members of Canada’s child care sector, government and others interested in supporting quality early learning and child care?

    As a professional Early Childhood Educator, I believe that it is my responsibility to seize those opportunities to participate in interactions that focus on quality early learning and child care.  How have I ensured my commitment in providing information and facilitating communication?

    1. I keep informed as to what meetings, Early Years tables, public events are available to attend to have Early Learning and Child Care on the agenda. If it isn’t on the agenda work towards having it included. I actively engage in conversation during these meetings, bringing focus to Early Care and Learning and speaking about the importance of quality and inclusiveness in Early Care and Learning.
    2. I am committed to following up and following through to invite those stakeholders to coffee to foster even deeper dialogue. Drop by offices, send an email (takes all of 2 minutes), call over the phone.
    3. MEMBERSHIP IN BOTH NATIONAL AND PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS. Early on in my own professional journey I realized the importance of membership that membership is key to supporting each of us on our own professional journey’s.  As I became more and more active in my professional associations I help to support collective professional goals. Through our professional National and Provincial/Territorial associations events are sponsored throughout the year that allow each of to connect with our fellow professional peers.  Through dialogue and activities, we as professionals can all share ideas, ask for advice, volunteer to be a speaker or become a member of a committee. We as professionals are stronger together and more untied if we are members of our National and Provincial and Territorial Associations.
    4. I have taken the opportunity to identify and approach typical and non-typical partners about Early Care and Learning. This can take shape in various forms; neighbors, employment interviews (I bet you are thinking did she really do this? Why yes, I did!) local MLA’s, Poverty Reduction Coalition luncheons and yes even the local Canada Boarder Services Agent who questions, “What do you do for work?” (I had the best conversation informing him about Early Care and Learning!). I have never passed up a moment to advocate for the profession and the importance of Early Care and Learning.
    5. I attend conferences, professional development opportunities. While at conferences and professional development opportunities I seize those opportunities to engage in dialogue surrounding the Early Years profession. I must stress that through these conversations, I have developed relationships that are supportive, respectful. Many of these relationships are maintained and have continued long term.
    6. I have been a member of the $10a day Plan Advisory Committee for the Early Childhood Educators of BC. Through this advisory committee as well as other Provincial Board of Directors work I have actively participated (and continue to do so) in the crucial work that will impact long term decisions surrounding quality early learning and child care.
    7. Through various training workshops I offer, (Early Learning Canada, ECEBC Best Choices- Ethical Journey training, professionalism workshops, CCCF’s Partners in Quality Workshop Series) there are a multitude of opportunities that have been presented to me to engage in conversations and activities. These opportunities foster the understanding and dialogue surrounding providing information and facilitating communication in supporting quality early learning and child care.

    4. Develop models, standards and guidelines for quality early learning and care, professional development and organizational design.

     Currently, I am involved in the Early Childhood Educators of BC crucial work surrounding a statement on reconciliation and that will help to guide the ongoing work of the organization.  This work is being conducted with the supportive relationships from our Indigenous partners.

    I have participated in the valuable Advisory Committee work on the $10aday Plan in British Columbia.

    I was the BC Representative on the Child Care Counsel Sector Occupational Competencies ongoing work. This work helps to continually impact standards of practice and guidelines for the profession.

    I participate in ongoing professional development training and have a full understanding that through increasing my own professional knowledge, that this is a strong sign of leadership.

    I have developed innovative and supportive workplace in the Frist nations community for which I have worked for 20 years. I have created a culture of continuous quality improvement for the programs for which I am involved in.

    I have a demonstrated strong commitment to my professional Code of Ethics. This has been done through my ongoing and active work as a Best Choices- Ethical Journey Guide. (

    I believe that for the profession that continually works towards developing innovative and effective models of care, ensuring the including to standards of practice and guidelines, that ethical training should be mandatory. This training can be initially started during initial training then be extended to all those organizations that support, legislate and enforce Provincial and Territorial regulations.

    I am committed to attend meetings with other Provincial and Territorial affiliates. I firmly believe that collectively we can learn so much from our interactions and developing long term relationships.

    I consistently seek out clarification surrounding latest models, standards of practices and guidelines. I have learned that whether we are new to the profession or a seasoned Early Childhood Educator we can continue to learn and inspire each other to raise the standards of professionalism.

    I have created an internationally recognized Early Years Language Nest Program in the Province of BC. Through ECEBC Leadership Initiative I had the opportunity to take the leadership project I participated in to an international level. The Leadership project focused on encouraging Males in the Early Care and Learning Profession.

    I have continually partnered with provincial and national organizations in developing initiatives that support the wellbeing of children and their families that incorporate the highest of Standards of Practice. I have participated in campaigns related to poverty, early childhood education, Indigenous cultural sensitivity and health.

     Name:             Scarlett, Christie

    From:             Calgary, AB

    Current Job: Director of Operations, Churchill Park Family Care Society

    Professional Membership: Member of the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta (AECEA), CCCF

    Past Roles/Work with a Provincial/Territorial Child Care Association:  Since being in a Director’s role, I have been driven to coach and mentor managers at Churchill Park’s programs by participating with the School Age Care Directors Association (SACDA), Alberta Family Child Care Association (AFCCA), and Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta (AECEA), as well as maintained an affiliation with Public Interest Alberta. I also contribute to community groups that indirectly impact the ELCC profession such as Child care Service Policy and Development Guidelines through the City of Calgary. Previously, I participated on the Mount Royal University Advisory Committee for Early Childhood.

    Past Roles/Work with a National Organization: I have been a Canadian Child Care Federation board member since November 2014 and have committed to continuing my work with the Canadian Child Care Federation as such, and have been involved in learning the role of Treasurer over the last year.

    Other Work/Volunteer History: I have been employed with Churchill Park Family Care Society for 13 years in a variety of leadership positions and currently have been the Director of Operations since 2011. This position has provided me many opportunities to strength my passion for children in to business projects, branding and marketing, finance. My previous experience defines the path of my passion, consistently ensuring Canada sees children as our future.

    Reason/Goals/Purpose to Join the CCCF Board: Advocacy can look very different. Every decision I make as a Director of Operations and as a parent or member of the community is based on how I can make a difference in the lives of children and families. I make those decisions daily. Now I hope to make those decisions nationally. CCCF offers a lot to early childhood practitioners, families, and children across Canada. CCCF is that connection for people, across Canada, to receive the support required to successfully obtain a consistent message and understanding about child care. It is important to observe nationally what is occurring so each province can learn and move forward in unity. CCCF is that consistent movement and I want to be a part of it. Who more should we advocate for then the vulnerable sectors, our future.

    Name:             Skuce, Denise

     From:             Saskatoon, SK

     Current Job:  East Side Director, Tykes and Tots Early Learning Inc.

     Professional Membership: Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association (SECA), Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF)

     Past Roles/Work with a Provincial/Territorial Child Care Association: SECA Board Member; Saskatchewan Association of Child Care Homes Inc. Board Member; Saskatoon Family Child Care Home Association Board Member

     Past Roles/Work with a National Organization: Board Member CAYC Saskatoon Satellite Chapter

     Other Work/Volunteer History: As the Director of two Early Learning Centre’s since April 2017 and having had my own successful family child care home previously which ran for 22 years, it is clear I have made children my life career.  I am a current member of the Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association, as well as, the Canadian Child Care Federation, and am on the board for the CAYC Saskatoon Satellite Chapter.  In 2010 I completed my Early Childhood Education Diploma and was granted my ECE Level III.  Currently I am pursing my certificate in the Forest School Canada Practitioners course after my attendance there in 2015.  In the past I have been a part of the CCCF Early Learning Leaders Caucus in Saskatchewan.

     Reason/Goals/Purpose to Join the CCCF Board: Children, their upbringing, and wellbeing are my passion.  I know that in today’s busy world it is imperative that there are plenty of childcare homes and centers for children to learn and grow in.  I am a strong advocate for children spending more time outdoors and connecting with nature.  I believe children should be challenged to participate in risky play to nurture and grow the whole person.  It is the responsibility of current Early Childhood Educations, Providers, and Directors to be strong leaders and exemplify to those seeking a future and career in childcare the importance and necessity of continuing and consistent care for each individual child.

    I have been involved in many organizations that pertain to Early Learning in the city of Saskatoon and in the province Saskatchewan.  I want to expand on this and get more involved with what is happening on a national level and to help bridge the gaps between provinces.

    My goal is to get Saskatchewan moving toward being the forefront of Early Learning and Care in all of Canada.  All children across our country should have access to quality Early Childhood Programs and I want to make that a reality.

    With my strong advocacy for outdoor learning and passion for children and childcare please accept this as my application for nomination to serve on the CCCF Board of Directors.

     Name:             Stapleton, Donna

     From:             Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

    Current Job:  Executive Director, Small World Learning Centre

     Professional Membership: Nova Scotia Child Care Association (NSCCA), Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF)

     Past Roles/Work with a Provincial/Territorial Child Care Association:  Past Co-Chair and Board Member of Child Care Connections Nova Scotia

     Past Roles/Work with a National Organization: NA

    Other Work/Volunteer History: Lead Teacher, Day Break Parent Child Centre, NL; Infant Care Educator, Fox Trap High School, NL; Special Needs Educator, St. Joseph’s Child Care Centre, Halifax: Co-founder and member of South Shore Director’s Group; Member of Nova Scotia Non-Profit Director’s Association of Nova Scotia: Member of Bridgewater & Area Chamber of Commerce: Member of North American Reggio Alliance: Member of Town of Bridgewater Open Space Plan Advisory Committee: Completing a BA in Human Service Administration from MacEwan University, Edmonton (December 2017): Management Development Certificate (2007) St. Mary’s University: Management Development for Early Childhood Administrators (2007) Mount Saint Vincent University: Piloting Nova Scotia’s new early learning curriculum (2017): Piloting a Dalhousie University Study “Physical Literacy in the Early Years” (2017);

    Contributor in Susan Stacey’s books “The Unscripted Classroom” (2011), “Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood” (2015) and will be featured in her next book (2018).

     Reason/Goals/Purpose to Join the CCCF Board: I will contribute to the CCCF and its mission to achieve excellence in early learning and care by drawing on my experiences, education and passion of early childhood education. I will do this though consultation with my colleagues, families and community and through advocacy. I live in rural Nova Scotia, it has been important for me to leave my community and connect with and learn from others so that I could ensure that we are providing a high quality program for children.  I am interested in learning more about becoming a stronger advocate for young children and I think that being on the CCCF board would help me achieve this goal.

     Name:             Stevenson, Angie

     From:             St. Brieux, SK

    Current Job: Executive Director, St. Brieux Community Child Care Centre Inc.

     Professional Membership: Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association (SECA), Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF)

    Past Roles/Work with a Provincial/Territorial Child Care Association: Chairperson, SECA. Board member from 2009- present.  Member of the Early Learning Leader Caucus Saskatchewan since 2007.

    Past Roles/Work with a National Organization: NA

     Other Work/Volunteer History:  I have been in the Early Childhood Education sector since 2001 when I graduated with my Early Childhood Education Diploma from what was known then as SIAST, which is located in Saskatoon, SK.  I started my ECE career working with Infants.  I worked at Oak Trees and Acorns for 2 years before returning to my home town.  Upon return to my home town I was employed at our local agriculture industries while awaiting the opening of St. Brieux Community Childcare Centre Inc.  When St. Brieux Community Childcare Centre opened in February 2006 I was employed as an ECE with the Infant room as well as the Assistant Director.  When the Director resigned in May of 2006 I took over as Director and have been employed with St. Brieux Community Childcare Centre since.  Our centre is a large rural centre with 74 spaces and an average of 20 staff.  I have also taken up the role of Chairperson for our regional North East Daycare Director’s Co-operative 2007-present) as well as actively involved with SECA.

    Reason/Goals/Purpose to Join the CCCF Board: I believe I would make a great candidate for the CCCF Board as I have a vast knowledge of the issues and concerns of Early Learning Facilities, both in rural and urban Saskatchewan.  I also have a great working relationship with many Ministry of Education- Early Years Branch officials.  I have committed my career to Early Childhood and the growth of our field.  I am an avid supporter of both SECA and the CCCF and am always interested in what I can do to help both organizations grow and develop.  My Childcare Centre has been recognized as one of the top in Saskatchewan by SECA and many of my staff members have also won awards of excellence.  I do not believe in maintaining the status quo when it comes to our children.  I believe we can always strive to grow and do better for them.

    I look forward to the possibility of working with others nationally.  I feel like there are great changes coming our way in the near future.  I also feel like having a strong voice from the prairie provinces on the CCCF will be a valuable asset.

    Name:             Taya Whitehead

     From:             Robson (Castlegar), British Colombia

    Current Job:  ECCE Instructor, Selkirk College

    Professional Membership: Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia (ECEBC) and a member of the CCCF.

    Past Roles/Work with a Provincial/Territorial Child Care Association:  I joined ECEBC in 1998 as a student member. I am a past President of the Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia and volunteer my time in a variety of other capacities locally and provincially. I am currently contracted with ECEBC to develop leadership curriculum for Phase 2 of the ECEBC Leadership Initiative.

    Past Roles/Work with a National Organization:  I have completed my first full, 3-year term on the CCCF Board (following a one-year appointment) and feel as if I am finally grounded in the role of a CCCF Board member. I believe that I bring a variety of skills and scope of knowledge to the table from a rural BC perspective, as a post-secondary educator and within my past and current roles for ECEBC. I am a strong team player, eager to be involved and passionate about the sector.

    Other Work/Volunteer History:  I have been an Early Childhood Educator for the past 18 years. I completed my initial ECE training in 1998 at Selkirk College in Castlegar, British Columbia. Following my ECE training, I completed a Diploma in Human Services and a BA in Child and Youth Care from the University of Victoria. I have recently completed a Master’s degree from Athabasca University. My experience is broad, ranging from Group and Infant/Toddler Care to the Supported Child Development Program. For the past nine years, I have been an instructor in the ECCE program at Selkirk College.

     Reason/Goals/Purpose to Join the CCCF Board: I am a wife and mother of three children; I live in the rural Kootenay region of British Columbia. I feel that we are at a pivotal point in history where there is opportunity to make great strides in advancing our sector. I am a passionate, “big picture” thinker that commits myself wholly to projects that I am involved in. I can support the CCCF in its mission to achieve excellence in early learning and care through my work at a local, provincial and national level. I consider myself first of all an ECE, but also an adult educator and an advocate. I also have a significant amount of experience with online training and instruction that may be useful as the CCCF explores options for our members.






    Notice of the 2017 Annual General Meeting

    The Board of Directors of the Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF) gives notice that the 2017 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held on Thursday, September 21/17 at 12:00 p.m. EST via webinar, for the following purposes:

    • To consider and approve the minutes of the previous Annual General Meeting of the Members held on September 21, 2016
    • To receive the financial statements and Annual Report of the Corporation for the financial year ended March 31, 2017.
    • To appoint the Auditors of the Corporation for the ensuing year.
    • To elect Directors for the board
    • To transact such other business as may properly be brought before the meeting.

    CCCF members must be in attendance to vote as there is no voting by proxy.

    CCCF members, to attend, please RSVP to Don Giesbrecht, CEO at or contact by phone at 613-729-5289 ext 220.

    DATED the 28th day of July, 2017


    Marni Flaherty

    Chair, Board of Directors of the Canadian Child Care Federation

    A Blog: The Importance of Increasing Children’s Outdoor Play Opportunities

    The importance of increasing children’s outdoor play opportunities is of major importance for our Canadian children’s health and development.

    Over the next several months, the Canadian Child Care Federation will be providing blogs on outdoor play from several educators that are involved in the Building Capacity – Creating Specialized Outdoor Play Training to Empower Children’s Experiences, led by Okanagan College and funded by the Lawson Foundation

    This blog is written by Dr. Beverlie Dietze.  Beverlie has been researching and writing about outdoor play for several years.  She has delivered a number of key note addresses and workshops related to outdoor play nationally and internationally.  She holds a Bachelor of Education from UNB, a Masters of Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University and a PhD from the University of Toronto.  She also holds two diplomas from Sheridan College.  For further information contact


    How gardens can become the place to begin the conversation of how the recommendations in The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC, 2015) – A Call to Action can advance children’s outdoor learning experiences

    Across Canada, many organizations and communities are seeking to understand the recommendations outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report and how they can take action to change practices to support the recommendations. Among the 94 recommendations, specific to early childhood education, “a recommendation in the substantial education calls upon federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments to develop culturally appropriate programs for Indigenous families” (p. 1). Ideally, early learning teachers will engage in discourse and engagement among various communities of practice to gain insightfrom a theoretical and practical perspective of what reconciliation means in relation to early learning programs and the learning experiences that may be extended to children and families.

    There are many ways in which early learning programs can support new ways of practice that draw upon indigenous practices, including ecological knowledge and sharing of learning. For example, earlier this month, I observed pre-school children exploring a new garden that has been established to celebrate and recognize the knowledge of Indigenous peoples of our region. I listened to the children and observed them on the paths, stopping to look at flowers or bugs, and rocks and wood pieces amongst the plants. I observed some children bending down to smell a flower or have it tickle their cheek, while others just stopped in the moment to look down, to look up, and look at many places in between. I heard teachers having dialogue about the similarities and differences of the plants. And I listened intently to the children telling stories around the story pole.  The observations reinforced how gardens offer children both an individualistic and collective experience.

    We have long advocated for early learning programs to have gardens, but now, think about the benefits of establishing gardens or parts of gardens that include plants reflective of indigenous cultures and that are native to the geographic area. Learn about the common plants that Indigenous peoples use for food, medicine, or ceremonial purposes – how might they be incorporated into the garden and why? Think about how a garden becomes a natural place to encourage dialogue about everything that makes up a garden – soil, plants, bugs, and water, and how each of these are essential for environmental sustainability and stewardship. Think about how the garden becomes a place for all children and families to learn about how caring for land, animals, bugs, and plants has contributed to Indigenous peoples developing their knowledge and wisdom about ecological principles and practices (Turner, Boelscher & Ignace, 2010), that are now essential to support environmental stewardship. Think about how story poles could provide opportunities for children to explore the relationship of land, animals, and plants, and people and how elders could share their knowledge about these topics with younger generations. How might such practices enhance current early learning programming and bring new ways of knowing into our practice with children, families, and community?

    Gardens are places for teaching, learning, rejuvenation, and making connections with nature, people and places (Dietze & Kashin, 2016). They are a place to advance children’s outdoor learning experiences.  And finally, they are a place for early learning teachers to begin the conversations with children and families about the recommendations in The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC, 2015) – A Call to Action.


    Dietze, B., & Kashin, D. (2016). Empowering pedagogy for early childhood education. Toronto, ON: Pearson.

    Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to action. Retrieved from:

    Turner, N. J., Ignace, M. B., & Ignace, R. (2000). Traditional ecological knowledge and wisdom of aboriginal peoples in British Columbia. Ecological applications, 10(5), 1275-1287.

    How Outdoor Play Environments Contribute to Children’s Development

    We often here adults saying – “oh, the children are just outside playing” or children saying “I don’t want to go outdoors. I want to play with”.  We also hear many adults suggest that children learn far more indoors than outdoors. Research is telling us that outdoor play offers children far more learning opportunities than indoor environments.  Below, I provide an overview of some of the key attributes children gain from outdoor play.

    Physical literacy– Running, jumping, swinging, climbing and moving bodies in unique way is necessary for children’s physical development.  When children are engaged in play that requires them to use their bodies in multiple ways such as big body play, they are intuitively learning about reflexes, movement control, how to balance, and how to use their bodies within the space.

    The level of physical activity begun in childhood has a significant influence on later life.  Children that develop strong balancing skills will be better prepared for body movements in later life.  Strong muscles and bone density decrease the severity of an injury and healing time in case of injury.  Physical and active outdoor play improve heart and lung function, reduces overweight and obesity issues, as well as high cholesterol.

    Children require environments where they can engage in outdoor play that builds upon both their fine and gross motor development. Construction play, games, and physical motion including pushing, pulling, stretching upwards and downwards, climbing, squatting, and speed are essential for physical activity (Sport for Life

    Emotional development is complex.  During the early years, children are developing the framework to manage feelings about one’s self and others. Outdoor play experiences influence children’s ability to build self-confidence. A child’s self-confidence strongly influences their desire and ability to take risks in their play and learning environments. When there are outdoor play options, children are better able to experiment with various emotions such as joy and fear.  Children who experience stressful or traumatic living environments, such as child abuse or changes in family units or disasters, they benefit from having active outdoor play environments that allow them to formulate a variety of play options that they can use to work out aspects of stress that they are dealing with. This helps them to work through the trauma (Shanker, 2016).

    Social development occurs more naturally in outdoor environments than indoors because of peer play, the space and options to move, create, and explore within the environment.  Outdoor play is where children learn to take turns, self-regulate, interact with peers, and understand social norms such as what behaviours are acceptable and what ones require refinement. They determine when to engage in group play options and when they wish to be alone and enjoy solitary play.

    Early learning environments that have places for children to engage in solitary play are supporting them in developing their sense of being – which is associated with independence and independent thinking.  Solitary play helps children develop their creativity, problem solving, ability to be alone, being comfortable playing alone and building upon their interests and strengths on topical issues. Children may engage in solitary play at times when they wish to observe how others engage in a particular task or activity. The learning that occurs through their observations may become part of their plan as to how to tackle a new experience.

    When children engage in group play, they are also developing important life skills.  Group play influences children’s knowledge about and behaviours related to social norms, cultural rules and diversity in ways of knowing.  Group play, such as rough and tumble and big-body play not only contribute to children’s physical development, this play helps them with developing cooperative skills and learning cues about acceptable body language and communication skills.  Outdoor play environments that provide children with options such as exploring den making or shadows and mud puddles, and having adults within the environments that encourage them to test and develop relationships, contribute to children wanting to explore, connect to their environments and actualize their sense of curiosity. Children require places where they can test strategies with peers, learn self-control and engage in negotiation skills. This can best be achieved in environments where adults support them in testing relationships and becoming involved only when children’s self-esteem is at risk.

    Children require space to move around and to use different parts of their body.  Social development occurs on climbers, bridges, platforms, ramps, and with materials that require children to work together to create, take turns, and problem solve.

    Inclusion:  Outdoor play environments that have multiple places and spaces for all children to experience inclusion off equality to all.  Inclusion occurs in spaces and places where children and adults advocate to celebrate the skills and abilities of all people in the setting.  Often, it is the design of the play spaces, including the equipment and surfacing, rather than children that influence exclusion of children with disabilities. When children with disabilities are in environments that support their development, positive self-esteem and an understanding of diversity is developed among all children and families (Dietze & Kashin, 2012).

    Cognitive:  Studies have shown that outdoor play affects a child’s neurological development and how the neural circuits of the brain become wired.  Brain development affects all aspects of development. Children who are exposed to outdoor environments that require them to move physically, participate in exploratory experiences such as putting things together and taking them apart, figuring out how to accomplish climbing to the top of the tree, or making the sand wet enough to mold particular shapes, all contribute to the critical thinking and problem solving skills used later in academic environments.

    Outdoor play environments provide children with new words, which in turn increases their vocabulary, reasoning skills and thinking strategies.  When language, movement, and self-regulation skills are combined, children increase their abilities to focus and control their behaviours, including how they problem solve and work with their peers.  Challenging outdoor play opportunities increase children’s manipulative skills, their abilities to make appropriate judgments and reasoning, and use their creativity to support their ideas and perspectives.

    Children’s cognitive skills can be enhanced when they have access to outdoor experiences such as climbing and swinging to support perceptual processes.  Spatial orientation can be achieved through areas that require children to climb, crawl under and over, and build vertically and horizontally.  Scientific principles including gravity and spatial awareness is gained from outdoor play that includes speed, height, and rapid movement.

    Outdoor play and games are essential to children’s development.  Whether the games are  individually played or are group games, are traditional ones, or those that children create, games support children in acquiring skills needed to make decisions, make up and/or follow rules and begin to understand strategies and consequences.  Games create a sense of peer cooperation, success and failure, and risk and problem solving.  These skills transfer to later academic learning.

    Environmental citizenship refers to the perspective that children and adults are an integral part of the environment and how we interact, engage with, care for and protect the ecosystems will impact the future of living space. Becoming a positive environmental citizen begins with the role modeling that children are exposed to during their outdoor play experiences. Outdoor play environments that provide children with space, time, and natural environments for activities and exploration and that supports them in engaging in discoveries that move from simple to more complex, contributes to them learning to become more focused. The more play that includes exploring their environments and building an appreciation for items such as rocks, water, bugs, and trees, the more children begin to develop skills and attitudes of environmental citizenship (Blanchet-Cohen & Elliott, 2011).

    Think about indoor and outdoor environments.  When you think about indoor play experiences how does it compare to what children gain outdoors?  Why, if children gain so many benefits from outdoor play, is it such a small portion of their daily routine?  How can we support parents and educators in advancing the outdoor play movement so that we contribute to the health and wellness of children and society?


    Blanchet-Cohen, N., & Elliot, E. (2011). Young children and educators engagement and learning outdoors: A basis for rights-based programming. Early education & development, 22(5), 757-777.

    Dietze, B., & Kashin, D. (2012). Play and Learning in Early Childhood. Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada.

    Shanker, S. (2016).  Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life.  Penguin Random House.


    Loose Parts and Tinkering = Learning

    As I have been watching children engage with many loose parts, I have been intrigued by how when the loose art is new to them that they engage in a tinkering process. This makes sense to me because children satisfy their curiosity in a number of ways depending on the environment and the resources within the environment.  Think about how often children engage in the process of questioning.  Now think about how they tinker with something new before they fully engage the item in their play.  Tinkering can be described as an active engagement and manipulation with materials or experiences that children do to figure out ideas and answers to questions.

    During outdoor play, curious children may tinker with materials and ideas when they first begin to determine how to make a den or a shelter. Where is the ideal place to build a shelter?  Is it in open space or near a tree?  How might they get the poles to stand up?  How might they get the branches to say on the shelter? Tinkering with ideas supports children exploring, experimenting, engaging with materials in ways that offer new options, and ultimately learning through trial and error. When children are given the time, place, materials that they can combine, assemble, take apart, create with, and have adult endorsement to tinker, they become immersed in the experimentation and discovery, which increases their desire to expand additional explorations.










    What Tinkering in Outdoor Play Looks Like

    Learning Feature Children Environment
    • Children become interested in spaces, places or materials. They put things together, move items, take things apart, reflect upon experience and start over again. They invest large amounts of time with the materials and their ideas.
    • Children combine different types of materials in their exploration.Children observe others with the same material, and then try their ideas.
    • Children ask questions of their peers or adults about the materials they are using.
    • Variety of materials, including recyclables, loose parts, familiar and unfamiliar materials that trigger curiosity and inquiry.
    • Places and spaces for tinkering to occur.
    • Adults that use open-ended questions to expand children’s thinking.
    Social partnerships
    • Children seek support and engage with others to gain new ideas needed to support their tinkering of their work and to develop new ideas.
    • Children request help from others to help solve a problem.
    • Children invite others to work with them on a particular idea.
    • Adults offering children role modeling and opportunities for discussions, debates, and expansion of flexible thinking.
    • Peers supporting peers encouraged by adults.
    • Children set individual goals and ideas.
    • Children create a purposeful plan in examining their idea, material or goal.
    • Children take risks with their ideas and in exploring new materials or ways of combining previous knowledge with new ideas and intentions.
    • Children figure out when they are stuck and what resources they can draw upon to move their thinking in a new direction.
    • Children develop their own questions and construct new ideas.
    • Documentation through pictures or stories that capture the experiences and sequence of exploration.
    • Additions of new materials or language that will trigger further curiosity and tinkering.
    • Adults that observe and listen to the children and offer input when required.
    • Multiple pathways are encouraged.
    Belonging and Well-being
    • Children feel a sense of belonging as they contribute to the sharing of the tinkering experience
    • Children feel successful in the open-endedness of the experience and their opportunities for expression.
    • Children and their families can contribute to the collections of materials for tinkering encouraging a sense of belonging.
    • Materials are included to support a broad range of development and skill.
    • Through scaffolding, adults and peers offer opportunities for children to be challenged while continuing to learn and develop.
    Creativity and Expression
    • Children’s opportunity for creativity supports their artistic expression.
    • Children express themselves in multiple languages.
    • Different ways are offered to create inventions, contraptions, machines and art.
    Actualizing discoveries
    • Children share how to do something with others.
    • Children apply their knowledge in new situations.
    • Documentation is continuous and children’s learning celebrated.

    Table 1  Tinkering and Outdoor Play

    Children require the space, time and unique loose parts to be available to them. Different type of loose parts advances children’s tinkering, questioning, intuitiveness, and innovation.  These elements of activity increase children’s depth of thinking and problem solving abilities. What neat loose parts can you place in the environment to be able to see children tinkering in outdoor play?


    The Power of Rocks in Children’s Outdoor Place of Learning

    Earlier this month as I walked through my neighbourhood, I became intrigued with two children who had stopped their bike ride to explore a pile of rocks that were adjacent to the bike path. As soon as the children began examining the rocks, they engaged in dialogue such as “This is an amazing find – look at all the sparkles – look at the colours and look at the great big ones and the tiny ones.”

    As I observed the children engage in the rock play for more than 30 minutes, I was reminded of how such simple materials such as rocks add diversity to children’s overall play, their language, thinking patterns and creativity.  When children are given the freedom to explore rocks of all shapes and sizes, they acquire core principles of art, math, science, creativity, language, and engineering. The more early learning professionals listen to the children, the more opportunity they have to incorporate children’s quest for knowledge into the environment and support triggering their curiosity within the context of an inquiry-based place of learning.

    There are many definitions that describe inquiry-based learning. For me, I view inquiry-based learning environments as those outdoor play environments that provide children with time, materials, and opportunities to exercise their sense of curiosity, and where their questions, ideas, observations and discoveries are at the core of their daily experiences.  The National Science Foundation (2001) suggests that inquiry-based learning involves a process of exploring the natural or material world that triggers questions and making discoveries that contribute to a new level of understanding.

    Through the process of inquiry, children seek information and insight about their questions and interests in things that matter to them in their world and experiences.  They construct meaning and resolutions about their area of curiosity rather than being focused on the right answer.  As outlined in Figure 1.1, part of inquiry-based practices is for educators to create environments that support children in generating and discovering new knowledge and to be responsive to children’s needs. As part of this process, early learning professionals listen, observe, and understand when, why, and how to change the environment to trigger children’s new options for creating questions, problem thinking and problem solving.

    June 9 Figure 1

    Figure 1.1 Role of educators in supporting inquiry-based learning in outdoor environments

    Since observing the children on the bike path, I had the opportunity to place a number of rocks in an outdoor environment with children in a preschool program.  During the process, I saw children’s curiosity, learning ideas, patterns, and strategies unfold in very different ways from what I observed in their indoor environment.  I learned so much from the children about rocks, art, math and their ways of thinking and knowing. As children discovered the rocks in the play space, I casually asked a group what they knew about rocks.  They told me about what a fossil is and why some rocks are smooth, while others are rough.  As I expanded my questioning, they began to connect the relationships that exists among pebbles, sand and larger rocks.  Over the days of exploring the rocks, I documented core questions that the children posed about rocks and documented some of their explorations and creations as they continued to visit and revisit their rock play.  As noted in Figure 1.2, the depth and breadth of questions used by the early learning professional supports children in thinking and taking action with their exploration, which in turn advances their options for exploration.  Good questions support children in observing, making predictions, testing their ideas and designing models that help them take pieces of their knowledge and experiences and combine them to advance learning in new ways and in more depth.

    June 9 Figure 2 June 9 Figure 3 June 9 Figure 4 June 9 Figure 5

    Figure 1.2 Questions that Promote Inquiry-based Outdoor Play Experiences

    As the children engaged in exploring the rocks, I had three key roles as outlined in Figure 1.3. – Inviting children to explore the rocks, encouraging children to use the rocks in new ways, and having discussions with an individual child or group of children.

    Invite children to explore rocks Encourage children to use the rocks in new ways Engage in discussions with  children
    • Set up rocks in various places in the outdoor environment.
    • Place resources near the rocks such as books, hammers, safety glasses, buckets and water.
    • Ask questions that support children in investigating the rocks such as “Do you think that rocks will float or sink in the water?” Why do you think that?
    • Provide a variety of rocks and displays that use rocks in vertical and horizontal positions.
    • Place rocks in unusual places outdoors with notes nearby.
    • Add resources such as sand, sticks, sand, and tree cookies near the rocks.
    • Discuss with children how they would like to use the rocks and what they anticipate they will require.
    • Encourage children to take photos of their rock explorations and tell their story about the experience that can be documented for later reflection.
    • Use new words with children such as symmetry, vertical, collapse, extend, and asymmetrical.
    • Ask children about the processes they used with rocks for various experiences.

    Figure 1.3 Roles of Early Learning Professionals in Expanding Children’s Explorations of Rocks


    When early learning professionals have a genuine interest in children’s outdoor play, they will design an inquiry-based opportunity that will support young children in building on their prior experiences while triggering their curiosity to extend their options for new exploration and discovery. As outlined, rocks, although simplistic at first look, offer children a venue to expand upon skills that support their academic learning for life.


    National Science Foundation (2001). Inquiry: Thoughts, views, and strategies for the K-5 classroom. Foundations: A Monograph for Professionals in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education, 2, Washington, DC.

    How Loose Parts Support Children’s Ways of Thinking and Knowing

    It is always exciting for me when students in our colleges and universities engage in research on anything related to outdoor play.  When I worked at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia I had the opportunity to work with many great students.  I was inspired to write this blog, focusing on loose parts, after reviewing the research conducted by Caileigh Flannigan for her Master of Arts degree at the Mount.

    When I think back to my childhood in the early sixties, there were few commercial toys within the environment, other than my dolls.  However, there were old muffin tins, pie plates, sticks, and spoons, pieces of wood, ice cream containers, and natural items such as mud, leaves and pine cones. These items were essential to my daily play and are now identified as loose parts in the literature.  Nicholson (1971) coined the term loose parts theory to articulate the idea that children benefit from being given open-ended materials.  This means that the materials may be used alone or with other materials (Dietze & Kashin, 2016).  They are movable and do not have a defined use; rather children may use them in a variety of ways (Flannigan, 2015).  Nicholson suggested that “in any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility for discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it” (Nicholson, 1971, p. 30).  The benefits of the materials not having a specific purpose is that when children become curious about the items in their environment, they can mess about with them, advance their creative thinking and “fulfill their own play objectives” (Canning, 2010, p. 561).  Fortunately for children loose parts do not have specific instructions of how the product needs to be used. Through exploration and manipulation of the materials, children figure out how they can be combined, redesigned, taken apart and put together in multiple ways. There are many items that can be classified as loose parts including the following ideas in Figure 1 below.

    Figure 1


    Figure 1:  Items that can be classified as loose parts.

    In Flannigan’s study (2015), she observed children playing with familiar and unfamiliar loose parts. Some of her findings revealed that when children are in environments where new loose parts are placed, there is an increase in the levels of curiosity expressed. She suggested that children engage in higher levels of physical activity, take healthy risks in their play and their interactions are extended to include different ages and genders when loose parts are available. Another important finding in her study was the relationship of loose parts to weapon or gun play. Her findings suggested that weapon play is common among children who are given the freedom to explore, discover and engage in play that is triggered by the materials within the environment.

    Often, early childhood educators eliminate sticks from the array of loose parts provided in the environment, primarily because of their concern for weapon or gun play.  Yet, there are many reasons for children to have access to sticks as part of their loose parts materials.   For example, listen to the conversations that children have when engaged in weapon play.  Often, they take turns being the good and the bad guys. This contributes to how children learn about morality – they learn about what is right and wrong and good and bad.  Weapon play leads children taking roles to “save” people as they become the hero in the play episode.  They reenact roles such as police officers and firefighters as part of their play. These are all positive attributes of play.  Therefore, when children are in environments that support them in having loose parts that align with their play episodes they are able to work through fears, gain insight from different perspectives, and learn to treat their peers in kind and caring ways. As suggested by Flannigan’s (2015) findings, gun or weapon play with loose parts has many developmental advantages including increasing children’s physical activity and curiosity within their play options.

    If you would like to learn more about Caileigh Flannigan’s study on Loose parts in the outdoors. Playing is learning, please email her at

    This blog is written by Dr. Beverlie Dietze.  Beverlie has been researching and writing about outdoor play for several years.  She has delivered a number of key note addresses and workshops related to outdoor play nationally and internationally.  She holds a Bachelor of Education from UNB, a Masters of Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University and a PhD from the University of Toronto.  She also holds two diplomas from Sheridan College.  For further information contact


    Canning, N. (2010). The influence of the outdoor environment: den‐making in three different contexts. European early childhood education research journal, 18(4), 555-566.

    Dietze, B. & Kashin, D. (2016).  Empowering pedagogy for early childhood education.  Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada.

    Flannigan, C. (2015). The influence of loose parts on preschool children’s play behaviours. (Unpublished master’s dissertation). Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Canada.

    Nicholson, S. (1972). The Theory of Loose Parts, An important principle for design methodology. Studies in Design Education Craft & Technology, 4(2).

    Imagining Outdoor Spaces that Intrigue Children in their Sense of Curiosity and Wonderment

    In the past several months, I have had the opportunity to be among many educators, landscape architects, researchers, school administration and others discussing key characteristics of quality outdoor play environments that provide the ultimate play opportunities for children. Some suggest that the spaces need native plants and bushes, others indicate the need for natural materials such as trees that have fallen or boulders that are available. Still others indicate that children require mud kitchens, ramps, tracks for the children to ride their tricycles and various places for children to climb.  These suggestions make sense to me, but then my mind wanders back to the play space of my childhood.  There were trees; lots of trees and broken branches and mud puddles, and places with ferns and grasses.  There were paths from the trampled down grass, and places to collect wild flowers such as daisies and Queen Elizabeth lace.  In essence, there was nothing manicured and the loose parts that were in the space, were those that from the forest floor or recycled from our households.  As educators, is it time to let those “good old days” go and face reality that children’s play spaces today need to be “designed so that they meet children’s needs and desires and to make positive contributions to their development” (Acar, 2013, p. 292)?

    Much of the current research has led educators with an interest in outdoor play to understand that the physical environment influences children’s behaviours, play experiences (Day & Midbjer, 2007) and their overall development.  There is a correlation between children who have the freedom to explore and engage with their outdoor environments, both in their family setting and school or child care setting, with their level of motivation, mental health and connectedness to their place and space (Ozdemir & Yilmaz, 2008). The diversity, complexity, organization and presentation of the outdoor space and surrounding environment influences how the venue supports children’s problem solving, creativity and advancement of concentration skills and learning. But how should we decide what an “ideal” space design for children in early learning and school environments?

    As cited by Acar (2013), Elizabeth Jones (1997) suggested that design elements of spaces be classified under the following design requirements:

    • Accessible-Inaccessible
    • Active-Passive
    • Challenge/Risk-Repetition/Security
    • Hard-soft
    • Natural-people/Built
    • Open-closed
    • Permanence-Change
    • Private-Public
    • Simple-complex

    These design elements continue to be important considerations for early childhood programs today and could be a starting point in examining the play space offered to children.  By using these elements in discussions with children can generate some interesting ideas and changes that will engage children with the space in new ways.

    Herrington, Lesmeister, Nicholls and Stefiuk (2010) created a Seven Cs model for designing children’s outdoor play spaces to maximize creativity and supports the physical conditions of outdoor play space with child development.  The authors’ suggest when planning outdoor play space that it is important to include stakeholders including children, parents, early childhood educators and a design team with skills in designing space.  The Seven Cs include:

    • Character
    • Context
    • Connectivity
    • Change
    • Chance
    • Clarity
    • Challenge

    For further information on the Seven Cs go to

    In an outdoor play research project funded by five community Health Boards in Nova Scotia (Along the Shore, East Hants, North Shore Area, South Colchester and Truro & Area) Bora Kim and I created an assessment tool that was grounded in research from the fields of early childhood education, health and education; obtaining feedback from focus groups, observing children in a variety of outdoor play settings and completing a content comparison with other outdoor play environmental rating scales.  As outlined in Table 1.1, our assessment tool examines play spaces from the design, curriculum, and roles of families and the early learning practitioners with the children.

    Blog #2

    Play Zones

    Play Environmental Elements

    Physical Movement and Risk Taking

    • Flexible zones
    • Green zones
    • Affinity zones
    • Quiet learning zones
    • Seasonal zones
    • Variety of surfacing
    • Play shelter
    • Sunshine and shade
    • Beautiful stuff
    • Wildlife habitat
    • Climbing, jumping and height
    • Running and speed
    • Tools
    • Elements
    • Rolling and rough and tumble

    Loose Parts

    Experiential Play

    Involving Parents and Family

    • Types of loose parts
    • Mud play
    • Water play
    • Sand play
    • Construction play
    • Dramatic Play
    • Language and literacy
    • Art experiences
    • Music experiences
    • Math and science experiences
    • Parental education
    • Pedagogical documentation
    • Locally appropriate curriculum
    • Children’s clothing

    Role of Early Learning Practitioners

    • Planning
    • Professional development
    • Outdoor space design

    Table 1.1 Assessment Tool Focus

    According to Kritchevsky, Prescott & Walling (1969), space interacts with children and adults, and communicates ways that tell them how to act within the space.  High quality outdoor play space depends not only on the attractiveness but whether the space is open and diverse (Dietze & Kashin, 2012).  Children tend to spend more time playing when there are opportunities for them to expand their creativity and imaginations, and to make their space their own.  The components of children’s outdoor spaces either support or hinder the flow of children’s play.  This reinforces why it is essential that an analysis of the space be conducted to examine the strengths of the space and the opportunities for further development.


    The Risky Joys of Outdoor Play

    As I write this blog, I am watching children from my window toboggan down a hill – one that has trees, fences, and a hydro pole all nearby. As I observe the children ‘flying’ down the hill, (all without helmets) and see all of the potential items that many would consider dangerous, I also note that the children are on the hill without adults. To me, this is amazing because often our children are rarely seen outdoors without adults supervising them. Then, I think about risk taking and how important it is as part of children’s outdoor play. I am seeing the children using their bodies to roll, to stop themselves and to guide where they want to go on their magic sleds. I can hear the children laughing and screaming with delight. My regret is that I can’t just go out and snap a video to show you what I am observing. Fortunately, my neighbours, Maya and Justin have allowed me to enjoy their sliding experience.

    Allowing children to take risks is a challenge for many adults, especially for those who are risk-adverse or afraid of children getting hurt. Think about how you feel when you view children climbing up a tree or a climber. Think about children climbing up steep hills. Do you embrace these opportunities or hear yourself saying, ‘Be careful”, “don’t fall” or “maybe you should not do this”?  Educators are encouraged to provide children with ample opportunities to be in environments where they can take on physical challenges and be allowed to try play that has some risk attached to it. Risk taking contributes to children learning new skills, combining previous skills with new ideas, and discovering how to integrate new knowledge from the risk taking processes. Despite its benefits, many early childhood educators often express their concerns about the strict provincial or site standards and regulations that they must abide by that they believe reduce the children’s play options. Others, have shared their personal concern about a child being hurt in their care and what the response will be from parents and/or their supervisor. Perhaps by thinking about risk as a healthy phase of development, as educators, we can find strategies to help facilitate those play options for children.

    Snowy Hill

    Risk taking indoors is more cognitively based, while risk taking outdoors contributes to children testing their physical and social skills and their levels of self-esteem and confidence. When children develop the confidence to take risks during outdoor play, they are much more likely to extend risk taking during their indoor explorations.  Often risk and hazard are viewed as synonymous terms (Lupton & Tulloch, 2002), yet they are very different in meaning and in facilitating children’s outdoor play. In 2002, my late colleague, Barbara Crossley and I defined safe risk taking as “the opportunity for the active child to carry out an action involving risk in an environment that decreases potential for harm” (p.141).  Meanwhile, Greenfield (2003) described a hazard as an act or experience that children don’t predict, while a risk is an experience whereby the child has some uncertainty about being able to achieve the act. Frost et al., (2012), identify that educators and children should be examining environments to determine the level of hazard.

    Level I – Limited hazard

    Conditions that lead to minor injuries, such as scraped needs.

    Level II – Moderate hazard

    Conditions that cause serious injury, such as a broken leg.

    Level 111 – Extreme hazard

    Conditions that cause permanent disability or loss of life.

    Sandseter (2007) has identified six categories of risky play that she advocates children have exposure to. They are: Play with great heights such as climbing; 2) Play with high speed, such as running; 3) Play with dangerous tools, such as hammers; 4) Play near dangerous elements, such as cliffs; 5) Rough-and-tumble play with others; and 6) Play where the children can “disappear”/get lost or explore on their own. These categories help educators view the space and experiences extended to children.  The information is also valuable to share with parents as they identify the variety of risky play that children require in their daily lives. Children need to make a choice whether to take the risk or not. Adults and children benefit from collectively examining the play space on a weekly basis to determine if and what hazards are present and how to eliminate them. By role modeling this with children, they begin to distinguish between risk and hazard.

    There are short-term and long-term effects for children who do not experience risk-taking. Among the long term effects is that when children do not experience the lessons/learning gained from risk-taking when it is either positive or unsuccessful, they will show poorer risk judgement in the future (Little &Wyver, 2010). The short-term effect is that when children are prohibited or discouraged from taking risks, they will create their own risks and challenges, often being more dangerous with opportunities for injuries than if risks were encouraged (Gill, 2007; Greenfield, 2004). In our book, Playing and learning in early childhood education (2012),  (, Diane Kashin and I identified that when risk taking is limited, children will: create ways to bring challenge to their play; change the quality of their play experiences, resulting in the increase of unsafe risk occurring; reduce their desire to engage in curiosity, creativity and challenge in their play; and not gain the healthy kinesthetic and physical skills that build their confidence, judgment, competence and self-esteem. Often, children want to engage in risk-taking; it is the environment that stops them.

    Dietze and Kashin Book

    There are many strategies that early childhood educators may use to begin the dialogue with colleagues, parents and children on risk taking.  Here are our top ten ideas.

    1. Parents may require support to encourage children in being able to take risks. Provide parent information about the relationship of risk taking to child development and learning in newsletters and on web-sites.
    2. Invite parents to engage in outdoor risky play times with children and staff. This allows staff to highlight the types of play that are supporting risk taking opportunities.
    3. Educators and children create pedagogical documentation that visually shows children engaged in risk taking play. Include key points on how the play in the photos support risk taking.
    4. Educators examine their philosophy on and feelings about risk taking. As a group, they take inventory of the personal feelings of the team and then collectively develop strategies that will balance positions and roles during outdoor experiences so that children’s risk taking adventures will be encouraged and supported.
    5. Educators engage in observing children’s skills and then create opportunities for them to advance risk taking. Scaffolding experiences support children’s success in their risk taking play.
    6. Educators create challenging environments by providing a range of heavy loose parts such as ropes and rocks, differing terrain, offering materials that allow children to create large structures, and offer play spaces that allow for freedom to explore.
    7. Educators become conscious of their language with children during the outdoor exploration. They reduce the natural instinct to say “No! That is dangerous” and determine if the act is dangerous or if children are being overprotected.
    8. Educators examine procedures and practices at least every six months to ensure that they are addressing hazards and risks appropriately.
    9. Educators engage in professional development that shares current research on children and risk taking.
    10. Educators reflect upon on the following:
    • How do adults help children make the decisions about the risks they wish to take?
    • How do adults support children in helping children learn from their risks, especially with those that are not successful?
    • How do you offer children support for some of their explorations without reducing their enthusiasm for their potential idea?
    • How do you communicate with families about the value of children’s risk-taking and how often do you have such communication?
    • How do you continue to develop your knowledge and comfort for risk-taking?

    Ultimately, the outdoor play environments provides children with appropriate levels of risk that encourage them to think, take on new challenges and integrate their experiences with new  learning ideas.



    Dietze, B., & Crossley, B. (2002). Opening the Door to the Outdoors. Canadian Child Care Federation.

    Dietze, B., & Kashin, D. (2012). Play and Learning in Early Childhood. Toronto, ON: Pearson.

    Gill, T. (2007). No fear: Growing up in a risk adverse society. London, United Kingdom:CalousteGulbenkian Foundation.

    Greenfield, C.F. (2004). “Can run, play on bikes, jump the zoom slide, and play on the swings‟: Exploring the value of outdoor play. (Transcript).Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 29(2), 1.Retrieved from

    Greenfield, C. (2003). Outdoor play: The case for risks and challenges in children’s learning and development. Safekids News, 21(5).

    Little, H., &Wyver, S. (2010). Individual differences in children’s risk perception and appraisals in outdoor play environments. International Journal of Early Years Education, 18(4), 297–313. doi:10.1080/09669760.2010.531600

    Lupton, D., & Tulloch, J. (2002). ‘Life would be pretty dull without risk’: voluntary risk-taking and its pleasures. Health, risk & society, 4(2), 113-124.

    Sandseter, E. B. H. (2007). Categorizing risky play – How can we identify risk-taking in children’s play? European Early Child Education Research Journal, 15(2), 237-252. Retrieved 17th April 2014 from

    Multi-Lateral Early Learning and Child Care Agreement Long Overdue






     Multi-Lateral Early Learning and Child Care Agreement Long Overdue

    June 12, 2017

    OTTAWA — Today’s signing of the Multi-Lateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework in Ottawa is a long overdue step in supporting Canada’s children and families. The Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF), along with its provincial and territorial partners congratulate governments for taking this necessary step, but call for further agreements that articulate a fulsome vision, including a national early learning and child care workforce strategy, and further investments that address the comprehensive and holistic needs of children, families and child care services in Canada. Child care, not unlike public education and healthcare services needs to be rooted in equitable standards, availability, accessibility, affordability, inclusivity and high quality for all Canadian children and not just targeted populations.

    “Accessing quality child care is an issue that affects families of all types and across all socio-economic statuses. Federal funding, the multi-lateral framework and all further agreements need to build child care systems that consider all children, families and be very clear on what quality child care is”, said Don Giesbrecht, CEO of the Canadian Child Care Federation.

    Abundant evidence, research and international experience have proven that a universal child care program exceeds in meeting the development goals for all children regardless of their family’s social or economic status. We would never think to offer elementary school or health care to only those in greater need. This is a public good for the well-being of all Canadians.

    Marni Flaherty, CCCF Chair adds, “This is an important step for children, but clearly more is needed. We look forward to learning more details via the bi-lateral agreements with the provinces and territories and remain, along with our national, Indigenous, provincial and territorial partners willing and able to provide expertise and direction to move Canada forward for children and families.”

    The CCCF expects the federal government to lead and communicate its long-term vision, details and goals for Canada’s child care sector, based on research, evidence and best practice.  High quality child care is essential to healthy child development, women’s equality, integration of newcomers, poverty reduction, and family support. Canadian families, no matter where they are, want and need child care.

    “We know what quality child care is and we know what is necessary to create high quality, affordable child care. Ensuring that Canadian families have a range of choices that meet their needs and that they are of the highest quality needs to be a priority for all levels of government”, said Sonya Hooper, Executive Director of CCCF affiliate the Early Childhood Development Association of PEI.

    Media Contacts:

    Don Giesbrecht, CEO  CCCF (613) 729-5289 ext 220 or (204) 223-9369

    Marni Flaherty, Chair CCCF (905) 906-0030

    The Canadian Child Care Federation is Canada’s largest member based child care organization and is committed to best practice in early learning and child care. Our organization is about the value of children. We value children.

    In order to protect and enhance our children, to promote their safety and their healthy growth and development, we are committed to providing Canadians with the very best in early learning and child care knowledge and best practices. Our tools are research and knowledge dissemination, the creation and nurturing of active networks.

    600-700 Industrial Ave, Ottawa (Ontario) K1G 0Y9   (613) 729-5289   1-800-858- 1412    Fax/Téléc. (613) 729-3159

    Email/courriel :       Website/site web:

    The Canadian Child Care Federation is Proud to Announce Roni Cahen from Vancouver, BC as the 2017 Recipient of the CCCF Award of Excellence





    About the award recipient: Now retired, Roni Cahen generously spends her retirement years mentoring Early Childhood Educators and being “on the floor” with infants and toddlers, continuing to learn from them. Her strong vision for responsive, collaborative and inquiry-based learning has fueled many passions and modelled passionate and critical ways of educating young children.

    Roni was—and continues to be—an early childhood educator who works tirelessly to improve child care in British Columbia. She has been instructing early childhood education in college level programs for more than 30 years and while her accomplishments are many, one that particularly stands out is the design of a process to implement inquiry, taking small steps, inviting children’s collaborative meaning making, repeating experiences with minor changes as pertinent, revisiting work to engage children in discussion and to set an expectation of collective inquiry.

    She continues to volunteer as a mentor to educators at the SFU Child Care Society, where she guides educators to implement reflective practices as teacher researchers.

    Passion for early childhood education drives her commitment and her work. She voraciously reads research in ECE and strives to implement it in her practice. The sources of learning for Roni are many. She travels, watch movies, and she appreciates cultural events. This enriches her vast experience teaching and intellectually growing. When a new book in ECE studies is published, it is certain that Roni has already purchased a copy to feed her desire to grow and learn.

    Roni attended University of California in Berkeley, later taking early childhood courses in New Jersey and completing those initial studies at Vancouver Community College. She received her MA in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College in 1996, She worked with children for five years in New Jersey and twenty years in the Lower Mainland and was a teacher in Richmond, BC at a Parent Participation Preschool for eighteen years. It was during that time that she began teaching various Early Childhood Education courses for Richmond, Delta, North Shore and Burnaby. She continues to be an instructor in the Burnaby Community and Continuing Education ECE Program, but at this point in her life focuses on teaching curriculum courses that reflect Reggio-inspired practice.

    The Nominees: The CCCF would also like to recognize all of the nominees for the CCCF Award of Excellence 2017. Each one has contributed significantly to early childhood learning and care in Canada and are worthy of recognition. They are:

    • Marilyn Armstrong and Gina Blank from St. Albert, AB and Edmonton, AB
    • Liz Bruce from Oakbank, MB
    • Deepika (Dee) Bakshi from Calgary, AB
    • Carmelita “Carmen” Tilley from Fort McMurray, AB
    • Barbara Wolff from Edmonton, AB
    • Anick Lia-Pehe from Winnipeg, MB

    The Canadian Child Care Federation’s Award for Excellence in Child Care honours individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the field of child care and is presented biennially.

    It recognizes accomplishments in all areas of child care, including those who work directly with children. Nominees have given their time, talent and energy to enhance child care in Canada and have:

    • contributed to a higher quality of child care, locally, provincially or nationally
    • advocated on behalf of children, families or caregivers
    • made a recognized contribution to the profession
    • assumed a high level of responsibility
    • demonstrated commitment and creativity

    The CCCF would also like to thank all of the individuals who took the time to nominate all of these outstanding candidates as well as the Awards Selection Committee, chaired by Marni Flaherty from Hamilton, ON and comprised of committee members Jean Robinson from Lincoln, NB, Cathy Ramos from Halifax, NS, Ruth Houston from Toronto, ON, Jadranka Pocrnic from Saskatoon, SK, MaryAnn Farebrother from Calgary, AB and Carla Hees from Vancouver, BC.

    Multi-year Funding for Child Care in Budget Welcomed — Further Investments Are Needed to Meet the Ongoing Needs of Canadian Families


    Multi-year Funding for Child Care in Budget Welcomed — Further Investments Are Needed to Meet the Ongoing Needs of Canadian Families

    March 22, 2017

    OTTAWA — Today’s federal budget included $7 billion in a 10-year funding commitment to support child care across Canada starting in fiscal 2017-2018. After years of federal funding exclusion, the long-term funding is welcomed as is the recognition that access to affordable, quality child care is essential for families.

    “The multi-year funding commitment is most certainly a good start, investing in children and their care,” said Don Giesbrecht, CEO of the Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF) “Ideally, we would like to see more funds in the first years of the funding commitment, as the need for affordable, accessible, inclusive and high quality child care is pressing for families.”

    The collaboration and negotiations among the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and the federal government to ensure that as a nation we are all moving forward and building better child care is essential. It is critical to collectively address the issues of affordability, accessibility, inclusivity and high quality care that will benefit children. Access to affordable, quality child care supports families, increases mother’s labour market participation and supports the economy. Canada has long lagged behind the OECD’s recommended public investments in early childhood of 1% of GDP, which would put Canada on par with countries with fully developed systems of early childhood education and care.

    Marni Flaherty, CCCF Chair added, “We are pleased that Canada’s federal government has taken this significant first step in committing to a multi-year funding plan. Moving forward, creating fundamental changes in how Canada supports the middle class—and all families—in accessing high quality and affordable child care will require increased funding, planning and coordination.”

    The CCCF urges the federal government to work with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and with the child care sector over the next year to develop a robust long-term funding plan for child care in advance of the next federal budget.
    Media Contacts:

    Don Giesbrecht, CEO CCCF (613) 729-5289 ext 220 or (204) 223-9369
    Marni Flaherty, Chair CCCF (905) 906-0030

    The Canadian Child Care Federation is Canada’s largest member based child care organization and is committed to best practice in early learning and child care. Our organization is about the value of children. We value children.
    In order to protect and enhance our children, to promote their safety and their healthy growth and development, we are committed to providing Canadians with the very best in early learning and child care knowledge and best practices. Our tools are research and knowledge dissemination, the creation and nurturing of active networks.

    Federal Budget 2017 EN


    An Early Learning and Child Care Framework for Canada’s Children: #TogetherWeCan

    #TogetherWeCan build a high quality, affordable, accessible and inclusive child care system for  Canadian families. What do you need to know and what can you do to make sure that it is evidence based, built on the real needs of families and has best practice at it’s core? Download and share the CCCF’s An Early Learning and Child Care Framework for Canada’s Children: #TogetherWeCan document and learn more.