15th Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development

Equity, Access and Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care

The Summer Institute is an annual collaboration between the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College and the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto. The Institute strives to offer timely information to inform research, policy and practice. 

ECE can bring a wide range of benefits – for children, parents and society at large. However, these benefits are conditional on “quality”. Expanding access without attention to quality will not deliver good outcomes for children or benefits for society. Federal funding for the provinces and territories emphasizes more child care spaces for vulnerable communities. Targeted expansion could be problematic given the historic correlation between inadequate programs and marginal populations. 

The 15th Summer Institute examines the challenges in promoting quality while targeting expansion. Featured speakers include Sir Kevan Collins, head of the UK Education Endowment Foundation, providing evidenced-based evaluation of the policies and practices that work – and don’t work – to improve children’s outcomes, and Dr. Angela James draws on indigenous pedagogy to strengthen early years practice.

Keynote Speakers

Sir Kevan Collins

Sir Kevan Collins is the CEO of the Education Endowment Foundation. The EEF is dedicated to ensuring children, particularly those facing disadvantage, benefit from their educational experiences.  It does this by generating evidence about what works to improve children’s learning, evaluating innovative approaches and sharing findings in an accessible format with educators, colleges and policy makers.

Kevan has a long history in education, starting off as a primary school teacher to serving as Director of Children’s Services at Tower Hamlets. Kevan gained international experience working in Mozambique and supporting the development of a national literacy initiative in the USA. He is a visiting professor at University College London and was knighted in 2015 for services to education.

Sir Kevan Collins

Angela James

Angela James is the Director of the Indigenous Languages and Education Secretariat for the Northwest Territories.  As the former director for Early Childhood and School Services, Angela oversaw the development of the NWT Right from the Start Framework and Action Plan, which defines goals and actions to support children from birth through their transition to school.  Angela began her career as an educator and then school principal.  She received her own education in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.  Angela’s work centres on raising children to becoming, being and believing as 'a capable person,' and on the perspectives of Indigenous educational theory and research in informing educational reform. A Manitoba Metis, Angela has made Yellowknife her home for the past 40 years.

Angela James


Contributions of Local Government to Equitable Access & Program Quality


  • Anne Hepditch, Manager, Quality & Capacity Building, City of Toronto
  • Dr. Michal Perlman, Associate Professor, OISE, University of Toronto
  • Ada Chan Russell, Social Planner, City of Vancouver
  • Vanessa Kay, Social Planner, City of Vancouver

The cities of Vancouver and Toronto consider early years services part of healthy, family-friendly urban planning strategies. This panel presentation explores the tools cities use to support partnerships, high-density development, and quality design guidelines and monitoring.

Labour Market Versus Child Centred Approaches to ECE Policy

Presenters: Dr. Emis Akbari, Professor, George Brown College, School of Early Childhood, and Daniel Foster, ECL Degree Student, George Brown College, Research Assistant, Atkinson Centre, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Early childhood programming may be designed to meet parents' needs for child care, as well as support children’s development but whether ECE is viewed primarily as a labour market support, as opposed to a child development program will influence its oversight, delivery, the quality of the service and ultimately who it serves.

Tablet Applications to Support Early Literacy


  • Dr. Monica McGlynn-Stewart, Professor, George Brown College, School of Early Childhood
  • Nicola Maguire, Instructor, George Brown College, School of Early Childhood
  • Emma Mogyorodi, Research Assistant, Ryerson University
  • Leah Brathwaite, Research Assistant, George Brown College
  • Rashin Lamouchi, Research Assistant, George Brown College

Young English Language Learners or those who have special learning needs can find it difficult to communicate in kindergarten classrooms. Open-ended tablet applications offer tools to communicate ideas, engage with others, and demonstrate and develop knowledge and skills. The results of this study indicate that using strategies such as effective routines, opportunities to collaborate and share with peers, and modelling, educators can support these children through employing open-ended iPad apps.

Mentorship and Professional Growth


  • Dr. Elaine Winick, Professor, George Brown College, School of Early Childhood
  • Dr. Elaine Levy, Vice President, Child Care & Family Services, WoodGreen Community Services
  • Patti Rowland, Coordinator, Training & Development, City of Toronto, Quality & Capacity Building, Service System Planning & Policy Development Unit
  • Amanda Munday, Marketing Manager, HiMama

This panel will focus on an exploration of how mentorship - direct, multi-faceted, and online - can aid professional growth in a collaborative learning model

Mentorship when self-directed, and supported, becomes ingrained into practice. Subsequently, what is the interplay between mentorship and self-actualization of professional growth?

This discussion shares the ways and means of exploring connections between mentorship, documentation, and quality scope of practice (e.g. curriculum; program; supervision; management, etc).

Strategies for Scaling Up New Program Approaches


  • Melanie D’Souza, Research Faculty, School of Health Sciences and Community Services, Red River College
  • Jamie Koshyk, Research/Instructor, Red River College
  • Taylor Wilson, Research Assistant, Red River College
  • Rebecca LaRiviere, Research Assistant, Red River College

The Abecedarian model is a high quality, research based early childhood program that shows positive child outcomes but new evidence indicates it also provides benefits for parents and families. The approach is showing such promise it is being adopted by a number of Winnipeg child care centres. Red River College has developed training and mentoring strategies to ensure all centre staff develop the skills needed to effectively implement the model. The panel shares the strategies used to scale up a new program model and its benefits for families.

Advocacy & Actions to Influence ECE Policy

Presenters: Lyndsay Macdonald, RECE, Coordinator, Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario, and 
Rita Chudnovsky, Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC

Advocates from BC and Ontario share two strategic approaches to mobilize for ECE policy change. The CCCABC's movement for "$10aDay" child care has captured national attention on the need to build a system that includes affordable access for families, and ECE wage enhancements. The AECEO's campaign for decent work calls for a $25/ hour starting wage for RECEs, as a way to recognize the professionalism of educators and boost quality in the early childhood settings.

Indigenous Perspectives on Environmental Inquiry in the Early Years

Presenters: Hopi Martin, Kindergarten Teacher, Early Years Flextime PhD Candidate, TDSB, APHD, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, and Haley Higdon, Teacher, Project Lead, JICS, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, Natural Curiosity

Have you ever wondered how Indigenous perspectives relate to learning about the environment in the early years? Have you ever wondered what Indigenous perspectives and principles apply to all of us, and how these can be supported in any learning environment? This session hopes to light the fire of your professional inquiry by exploring how an Indigenous lens to environmental inquiry transforms learning in the early years.

Training for Quality: Building Ladders and Navigating Intersections

Presenter: Glory Ressler, Director of Education, Training & Data, Canadian Mothercraft Society

This session will build on the minimum benchmarks for training and professional competencies, as outlined by Unicef and the College of Early Childhood Educators/Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and Ontario’s pedagogical and service guidelines. It will address the immediate need for upgrading the qualifications of existing staff and new professionals who have been internationally trained. The focus will be on exploring strategies to create a baseline of qualifications and a first step towards higher training and a career ladder.   Examples of projects and strategies will be shared, including some with planned research components, which will promote training development and implementation. 

Capacity Building for Entry Level Educators: A Nigerian Example


  • Patricia Falope, CEO, Early Childhood Development Initiative (ECDI)
  • Dr. Kathleen Peets, Faculty, Ryerson University, School of Early Childhood Studies
  • Wendy Suh Research Assistant, Ryerson University, School of Early Childhood Studies

Nigeria’s education policy mandates a minimum one-year compulsory pre-primary linkage at public primary schools. Low teacher capacity, however, hindered quality programming. In 2016, UNICEF and Early Childhood Development Initiative (ECDI) developed an innovative, community-based curriculum and exponential model for in-service pre-primary teacher training in Nigeria. Subsequent UNICEF monitoring showed, among other results, up to 30% increase in teacher capacity. A further ECDI-Ryerson University study showed measurable impact on child outcomes.

Training Models to Address Staffing Challenges

Presenter: Laura Fowler Massie, ECE, M.Ed, College Professor, CEGEP Heritage College

Demand for trained ECE’s outruns supply in Quebec. Centres des Petite Enfance (CPE’s) and other licensed programs look to the college system to meet training requirements.

Presentation highlights of training models used to address staffing challenges: Three year nationally recognized diploma program. One year provincially recognized certificate program. Custom designed programs created to meet unique needs of northern First Nations communities and home child care.

How Demonstration Projects Inform Policy and Practice

Presenters: Jessie-Lee McIsaac Assistant Professor, Mount Saint Vincent University, and Sarah Melanson, Coordinator, Early Childhood Development, Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development

Integrated service delivery models, engage stakeholders across multiple sectors to provide a seamless response to the needs of children and families. They have the potential to create a common vision and result in improved quality of care, education and more equitable access to services and programs but research is needed to better understand how to sustain collaboration and produce positive early childhood outcomes. The evaluation of Early Years Centres in Nova Scotia is helping to inform policy decisions and changes to practice in the province.

Parents as Partners in Play Based Learning

Presenter: Dr. Ella Karia, PhD, Elementary School Teacher, Peel District School Board

This is an interactive workshop for educators exploring inquiry-based and play-based classroom practices integrating, some examples of quality practices for parental involvement in the educational life of the child. Making parents informed consumers of ECE and working as partners is truly in the best interest of the child. This workshop will further best practices in ECE by sharing recent research, findings and classroom practices.

Impact of Curriculum Approaches on Equity in Early Childhood

Presenters: Kamini Kamdar, Kindergarten Teacher, York Region District School Board

This workshop will introduce participants to the assessment framework of Learning Stories promoted by Te Whariki, New Zealand’s early childhood education curriculum. Underpinned by a socio-cultural approach to learning and assessment, the Learning Stories framework is a practice that is inclusive of families and young children alongside educators. Participants will learn how to create Learning Stories in the context of their work with young children and their families.


By Irina Kaliazine, Graduate Student, Atkinson Centre, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

An early years policy research project conducted at the Atkinson Centre/OISE, this project had two major goals: first, to explore the programs and initiatives available for families and children across Canada where data is collected and potentially can be linked to explore longitudinal outcomes; and second, to describe the process of data storage and usage, using examples from two Canadian provinces.

By Ella Karia, PhD. Elementary School Teacher, Peel District School Board

Ella Karia is a certified elementary school teacher who completed her Doctorate in Education at the OISE/UT. She embraced the role of both educator and researcher and shares insights from her research and book - Fostering Creativity. She discusses experiences of educators developing creative thinking practices in the 'wonder years'. She highlights her early years education model and key findings of quality classroom practices.

By Japji Anna Bas, PhD Candidate, York University

In Ontario’s new full-day kindergarten (FDK) program there are no regulations or policies addressing the learning enviornments of young children during lunch breaks. Drawing on a year-long three-phase study that followed a cohort of 21 children as they transitioned from childcare to FDK, this study explores the impact of staff training and staff relationships on the well-being of children in FDK.

By Sophia Mohamed, RECE, George Brown College, Bachelor of Early Childhood Leadership Program

The purpose of this study was to understand the importance of advocacy education in pre-service early childhood programs and to explore the connection of said targeted education on educators’ commitment to advocacy in totality. This study explored concepts of professional identity, professionalization, and advancement of the early years’ sector. Participants were recruited from 18 Ontario colleges and universities. 14 pre-service educators and 38 in-service educators’ phenomenological perspectives on their advocacy education and its implications on practice and commitment were obtained via an online survey. The findings point to the need for the inclusion of advocacy courses in programs across Ontario as the study highlight that educators entering the sector display a disconnect between theory and practice when it comes to the value of early years’ advocacy.

By Amanda Gleed, George Brown College, Bachelor of Early Childhood Leadership Program

As increasing numbers of children with special needs enter the early learning environment, there is greater understanding of the need for professional development for Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs). However, research is limited on the current learning needs of RECEs, and the training/support services required when working in an inclusive environment. This qualitative study interviewed four RECEs and explored their current learning needs for inclusive practice, and the training model they believe would be most effective when implementing support. The findings indicate that although needs are dependent on each child, RECEs prefer hands-on training models offered by clinical specialists. The study also calls for increased funding for special needs services to better support all educators in the sector.

By Cecilia Fernandes, RECE, George Brown College, Bachelor of Early Childhood Leadership Program

English Language Learners (ELLs) often have difficulty adapting and integrating into the school environment. The present study examined how Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) change and adapt their curriculum and programs to meet needs of ELLs. The participants in this study consisted of four RECEs who work in child care centres within the Greater Toronto Area. The findings indicate the importance of a well-informed workforce in the support of ELLs. Although curriculum and program changes such as adding diverse materials and labels that reflect various cultures occur, RECEs often do not document these changes. Results also demonstrate that RECEs are using their personal pedagogical philosophies to guide changes, and participants report the need for further professional development opportunities.

By Ashley Cammisa, RECE, George Brown College, Bachelor of Early Childhood Leadership Program

Canada has committed to increasing the number of refugees, supporting families that have experienced adversity.  Children experiencing trauma or adversity are vulnerable to poorer outcome. RECEs can buffer some of the negative effects reported.  The present study quantitatively examined Registered Early Childhood Educators’ (RECE) knowledge and preparedness in supporting children with trauma and/or early adversity. Thirty-five RECEs completed an online survey exploring professional development (PD) opportunities, supervisor support, trauma-informed environments, and confidence in supporting children with trauma/early adversity. Results indicate that the majority of RECEs do not feel confident, knowledgeable and prepared to support children with these experiences. These findings call for increases in pre-service training and PD for RECEs to more effectively support children with adversity.

Award Recipient: Tony Diniz

Tony has more than 40 years of experience of working with children and families across child welfare, early learning and children’s mental health at the program, policy, systems and high impact level. The core of his work has been on child development as the foundation for human and community well being. As CEO of Child Development Institute, he had led

Tony Diniz

 the development of a community-based agency that delivers high quality services but that is also concerned with higher impact through policy change and advocacy, innovation, through research, developing evidence and leveraging this through scaling.

Some aspects of his work include the following:

  • Through an agency that develops both healthy child development services and children’s mental health services, CDI has had the opportunity to bridge and find ways to support the inclusion of special needs children in childcare. For many years this collaboration between George Brown College and CDI supported early childhood educators with the understanding and tools they needed to complete this goal.
  • Before full day kindergarten became a reality and the need for stronger integration of services was just being realized, he led one of the trial Toronto First Duty Model Programs – Queen Victoria Partners for Early Learning – in south Parkdale. This project and other projects funded by the Atkinson Foundation were building blocks on the way to FDK.
  • With other early learning leaders he spearheaded the foundation of QELN (the Quality Early Learning Network). QELN consists of multi-site not for profit early learning organizations in Ontario who have swapped out a market competitive approach and replaced it with strong collaboration to achieve common goals in policy, program delivery with an underlying commitment to quality and community benefit.

He has served on many boards and other groups including The Child Welfare League of Canada, Children’s Mental Health Ontario and the Atkinson Centre Early Years Task Force. While big picture issues and solutions have taken much of his time, he has come full circle to believe that the foundation of quality service is the interaction between parent/child and family with engaged, emotionally available early childhood educators and or clinicians whose practise is informed by science and evidence.

The Annual Summer Institute on Early Childhood Development is presented by: