Thursday, July 21, 2011

RRSP

It was a proud moment for me yesterday when I addressed my assembled staff and introduced the guy from a large financial institution who had come to do a presentation on the Society of Richmond Children's Centres Group RRSP program. 

The Early Childhood Education field is notoriously undervalued and underpaid.  In our province it is mainly a user fee system with a small government subsidy so salaries are paid from parent fees.  You can imagine the challenge when I go to my Board (who are parents using the service) and ask for a pay increase or benefits or RRSP's for my staff..... it is coming out of their pockets.  They want the best care for their children but they have to be able to afford it.  It is a challenging tension for them and for me.  I have long advocated for a public affordable accessible system of early childhood care and education that is flexible enough to meet the needs of a broad range of families but almost no progress towards that goal has been made in the almost 20 years I have worked here.  Apparently children are only worthy of public dollars when they turn 6 years old...... lucky they don't vote!

My job is multi-faceted (sometimes a little too multi-faceted) but one of the primary roles I play is advocate for my staff.  I have driven a pretty tough agenda with my Board around compensation and benefits and, credit to the Board, they have stepped up.  In the almost 12 years I have been here compensation has risen over 25%, we have a cost-shared benefit plan (we pay 60%), a monthly Health and Wellness cash benefit, additional vacation and every staff gets their birthday off  (which is by far the benefit everyone loves the most and funnily enough costs "me" the least!)

And now, we will have a generous matched RRSP program. 

Not bad for a small non-profit.  A good step in the right direction.

And not nearly enough, in many ways ,for the important work these women do each day.

Let us take care of the children for they have a long way to go
Let us take care of the elders for they have come a long way
And let us take care of the ones in-between for they are doing the work
Nelson Mandela

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