Child Care? Daycare? What’s in a Name

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In Canada and on Google search, the overwhelmingly popular term to describe our field is “Daycare”. Our passion at the CCCF is supporting Canadian professionals to provide high quality early learning and childcare, and helping parents to recognize and choose quality child care. For many, daycare and childcare are interchangeable. Regardless of the term you prefer, this site and organization is for you. 

Perhaps when the name matters more is when it refers to the work you do. Does your job title matter to you? Maybe it’s not something that keeps you up at night and you aren’t that concerned about it. For some, the job title is integral to gaining more respect for our profession. Job titles serve to define people and the work they do. Our field is full of so many terms and titles for what we do each and every day. While there is no unanimous agreement on the job title, we are a committed group of professionals who dedicate our time and energy to providing the highest quality early learning and care for children. Even through the challenging times like COVID 19, we carry on and do what we can to support the children in our care and their families. 

Parents use lots of different job titles when they refer to us. For most of us, we accept whatever titles are used. Could we instead claim a more accurate, universal job title? Could we use our interactions with parents and the general public as an opportunity to educate families and others what job title we prefer and why? When I worked front line childcare, I recall telling people at dinner parties that I molded young minds for a living. That caught their attention although it really didn’t encompass what I did each and every day. Stating our correct job title that properly reflects the work could be  an opportunity to inform and broaden knowledge about the varied tasks and responsibilities required in our jobs.  

In a recent Facebook poll we asked you what job title you liked best and you said Early Childhood Educator

In a recent Facebook poll we asked you what job title you liked best and you said Early Childhood Educator (which is the title CCCF is now using along with ‘practitioner’). It led the vote with 320 votes and Day Care Worker came  in last at 3 votes. Other terms that were posted were Teacher, Child Care Provider, Early Learning and Child Care Professional, Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE), Child Care Professional, Learning Facilitator, Educator, Kindergarten Educator, Preschool Teacher. 

Does it matter? For many of us it does. Why? Is it because many outside our profession don’t appreciate or even know what we do? Is it because our required training is not the same across the country and often not respected? Is it because unless the person has inside knowledge of early learning, our work can be regarded as…..babysitting.

With the importance of the early years now recognized by the majority, why is the dated term ‘daycare’ still used? It’s obsolete and doesn’t show the progression of this field of study or the leaps the sector has made since the 1970s. The care that is now provided by early learning and child care professionals in home/family child cares, preschools, nursery schools, child care centres, early learning centres and outdoor/nature schools is focused on early learning within a caring environment that serves the whole child and their emergent needs. The work is supported by research that highlights the vital importance of the early years and what a difference quality early learning can make. The term day care teacher feels limiting and diminutive to many early childhood educators. 

Some Professionals in the Field Struggle with the Term ‘Daycare Teacher’ or ‘Daycare Worker’,

While no ill will is intended when people use the term ‘daycare teacher’ or ‘daycare worker’, some professionals in the field struggle with the term. At times, it can feel dismissive and not representative of what’s required to perform the job well. These days in order to work in early learning environments it’s necessary to have a higher level of training and education. There is also a high importance placed on continual learning and ongoing professional development. That being said, daycare is a common term used amongst some families, in the media and by the public at large. 

Our job titles may not seem vitally important but to many who work in this profession it’s an essential part of moving the sector forward, gaining more respect and professionalism. The field is advancing, let’s help it along by referring to ourselves with a title that encompasses more of what we do, beyond taking care of the day as the title ‘daycare worker’ implies.  Remember, the language we use matters. Lead by example.


What do you think? For more hot topic discussions, join the Canadian Child Care Federation’s Facebook group. Be part of the conversation, part of our community


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Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) are incredible professionals that have rewarding, important and demanding careers. They work with young children (and their families), ages 0-12, nurturing and educating them, observing and planning for their growth and development while ensuring that they are healthy. They create interactive and dynamic learning environments where children develop social skills, develop cognitive skills and foster lifelong learning. ECEs work in child care centres, classrooms, home child cares, preschool, and parent drop-in programs. You do not need a teaching degree to be an ECE, but you do need your ECE diploma.

If you’re just starting out:

  1. Get certified!
  2. Find the requirements for your province or territory
  3. Write your resume and begin your job search. We’ll provide tips on this soon. 
  4. Get your vulnerable sector check and first aid training

Join our Facebook Group and meet other ECEs who may be able to answer your questions

All licensed and regulated quality child care programs in Canada require these for the safety and security of children and families.

On our provincial and territorial map we link to child care associations in your area. Follow the link to your association and join today. The associations provide valuable information to anyone starting out in their career. Even experienced ECEs can benefit. You’ll also enjoy valuable member benefits like discounts, meet other ECEs, and become a part of the child care movement in Canada.


If you join your provincial or territorial affiliate, you’re automatically also a member of the CCCF.

With your resume and cover letter ready (we’ll provide guides for this soon), contact child care centres and introduce yourself! You can call, email, or even message them on social media. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a reply. Try again a few days later to give them your resume in person. Remember that due to safety reasons you need to call first. Tell them you live in their area, and that you’re looking for a position.

Anyone working in licensed child care has to apply for certification. You will find certification information for your province or territory on our child care certification page.