On April 11, 2023, the Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op, the Community University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families, the Edmonton Council for Early Learning and Care, and EndPovertyEdmonton released Journeys Through Early Learning & Childcare in Edmonton: The Experiences of Ethnocultural Families, the culmination of two years of collaborative research.
The report features first-hand accounts of the experiences of ethnocultural parents as they navigated the challenges involved in securing early learning and care for their children in Edmonton, and illuminates opportunities to improve early learning and care for ethnocultural families and their children.
"We started this journey because we wanted to understand the lived experiences of ethnocultural families as they attempt to access and navigate the early learning and care system,” says the report’s co-author, Pieter de Vos, PhD, of the Community-University Partnership.
"The report acknowledges the importance of ethnocultural families’ assets, cultural resources, and knowledge that can be harnessed to improve the delivery of child care," says Heather Raymond, PhD, member of the Edmonton Council for Early Learning and Care and Director of Early Learning and Care at EndPovertyEdmonton.
"First person accounts of ethnocultural families' journeys through child care can help early childhood educators understand a family’s experience and needs so they can create culturally affirming learning environments for the children," says Raymond. "This report provides valuable information for child care educators about the importance of understanding a family's immigration story and the challenges they face, as well as the importance of being responsive to the cultural needs and cultural assets of newcomer communities. When important everyday cultural experiences are recognized, children and families can feel valued and included."
The researchers engaged 30 parents from six ethnocultural communities: Kurdish-speaking, Eritrean and Ethiopian, Bhutanese, Filipino, Spanish-speaking, and Chinese-speaking. They used the findings from these conversations to develop detailed personas and composite stories that describe the journeys of ethnocultural families in Edmonton. While the stories bring attention to the struggles many families experience in accessing appropriate childcare, they also illuminate the resiliency and cultural wealth of ethnocultural families.
The report also illuminates opportunities to improve early learning and care for ethnocultural families and their children in Edmonton. The authors say the report reveals what is possible if we embrace an intercultural spirit of mutual respect, learning from one another, and equality between social groups of ethnocultural families as they navigate early learning and childcare services in Edmonton
"This report is really a springboard for action,” says de Vos. “It provides some insights and some pathways for change."