I’m Michelle Connor and I am the Manager of Children’s Services and Early Years at the City of Brantford. The City of Brantford is the Service System Manager for child care and early learning for Brantford and the County of Brant.

The Child Care and Early Learning system can be complicated, with all of its bits and pieces, so let me explain.

The child care and early learning system is a ham sandwich.

Like any sandwich, it’s got a lot of ingredients, and they all need to be contained. The child care and early learning system contains the work through rules, like the CCEYA and licensing from the Ministry of Education, and through funding for operating, playgrounds and Wage Enhancement that come through the City. The province and the city – we’re the bread.

Then, any good ham sandwich has some type of mayo or aioli that makes it moist and easy to go down. That is the Fee Subsidy program and the Canada Wide Early Learning and Child Care funding. Those are supports to families to keep child care affordable for all. Tina Bloomfield and Samantha Rose, two ECEs that work for the City, support families as they work through obtaining Fee Subsidy. Sam and Tina are the mayo.

Next on the sandwich, we add the salt and pepper. As you know, a sandwich can be made without seasoning, but it won’t be as good. The salt and pepper are the professional learning. Salt and pepper might be the Professional Learning Hub, or Lansdowne Children’s Centre or the Joint Brantford-Brant Child Care Early Learning and School Board trainings, or they may be an educator’s supervisor, their mentor or the wise staffer that they are lucky enough to share a room with. Salt and pepper bring out the best in the educators.

Next, we have mustard. Some people say that a ham sandwich doesn’t need mustard, and they can choose ketchup or some other condiment. The reason there are so many types of condiments is because there are so many types of children. Some children are exuberant, some are shy and some wear their pants backwards. Some children laugh, some cry and some tell you how parent A lets them eat ice cream for dinner when parent B isn’t home. And some children need a little more of something than others. That’s why the system has the support of Lansdowne Children’s Centre, their Resource Coordinators and their Enhanced Staff – because not all children (or condiments) are the same… and we wouldn’t want them to be.

Then we add the tomatoes. Not everyone loves tomatoes. This is more about personal preferences. We could be talking about tomatoes or lettuce or a nice piece of swiss cheese. If those things are important to you, then they aren’t just add-ons… they make the sandwich. That’s why we have child care centres that are French language or indigenous-led. These program types are necessary for the sandwich.

A ham sandwich by itself isn’t a meal and could use a nice salad. A salad isn’t the same as a sandwich, but it has some of the same ingredients. It has the same purpose – to fill you up nutritionally and support healthy growth. The salad… that is the EarlyONs. The EarlyONs, where HDLH is practiced, and where all kinds of children have the opportunity to play, learn and grow.

So far I’ve mentioned the bread and the mayo and the mustard and the salt and pepper and the tomatoes. What have I missed?

Yes, I’ve missed the ham. The ham is the most important thing. You can’t, no matter what else, have a ham sandwich without the ham.

Early Childhood Educators are the ham in the ham sandwich.

All the other ingredients make the sandwich good, but the educators make the sandwich.
The City of Brantford is pleased to have been a sponsor of the 2023 ECE Banquet and we thank the early childhood educators in our community for being the ham.