Registered Early Childhood Educators Defence Lawyers

Early childhood educators, like many professionals in Canada, must be adequately educated, licensed and regulated by the province in which they practice. Each province regulates their professionals in their own way.

Each province in Canada is responsible for regulating the professionals working within that province. In Ontario, the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators is responsible for regulating Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECE). RECEs practise in a range of settings including: government, kindergartens, children’s services, family support programs, licensed/unlicensed child care and recreation programs.

The College of Registered Early Childhood Educators is one of the largest professional regulatory bodies in all of Ontario and regulates the profession of early childhood education through the regulation of: registration requirements, ethical and professional standards for registered early childhood educators and requirements for continuous professional learning. It is also responsible for addressing complaints and setting the discipline process for professional misconduct, incompetence and incapacity. The goal of the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators is to protect public interest through the regulation of early childhood education and create an educational environment that values transparency, integrity, professionalism, inclusion, and holds its members accountable.

The College of Registered Early Childhood Educators regulates RECEs in accordance with the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007 and the regulations and bylaws made under it. Regulations made under the Early Childhood Educators Act 2007 include provisions for Continuous Professional Learning Professional Misconduct. The Act and its bylaws will be discussed in further detail in later sections.

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Legal Information

Frequently Asked Questions

How are Early Childhood Educators Regulated?
The Complaint Process
What Happens When a Complaint is Filed?
What Happens After a Complaint is Made?
What Types of Acts or Omissions Give Rise to Professional Misconduct Complaints?
What Penalties can and Educators Face as a Result of a Complaint?
How to Defend a Formal Complaint made to the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators?
What Duties do Employers Have?
Unregulated Early Childhood Educators

How are Early Childhood Educators Regulated?

ECEs Ontario are regulated by the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007 and the regulations and bylaws made under the Act, which includes provisions for Continuous Professional Learning Professional Misconduct.

Among other things, the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007 provides for: the make-up and duties of the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators, the acts that constitute the practice of early childhood education, the requirements needed to become members of the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators and practise the profession, the process of addressing complaints and subsequent discipline hearings, requirements for reinstatement and appeals, as well as the Registrar’s power of investigation.

Under the bylaw for Continuous Professional Learning, the College of Registered Early Childhood may require that RECEs participate in continuous educational and development programs after registration, in order to continue their ability to practice early childhood education. Such programs may also include the requirements of completing self-assessments, engaging in educational activities, the development of professional learning plans, as well as the maintenance of records demonstrating completion of such programs. The bylaw for Professional Misconduct lays out conduct by RECEs that would be deemed inappropriate and could jeopardize the RECE’s ability to continue practicing early childhood education if amounts to the level of professional misconduct. Some examples of acts that constitute professional misconduct include: failing to adequately supervise a child, physically, verbally, emotionally or psychologically abusing a child, practising or purporting to practice the profession while under the influence of any substance or while adversely affected by any illness/dysfunction or failing to maintain the standards of the profession.

The College of Registered Early Childhood Educators also has a Code of Ethics and Standards that sets out the skills, values and expectation of all RECEs as well as their responsibilities to Children, their families and other members of the profession.

The Complaint Process

As RECEs are responsible for the education and supervision of young children, who are a particularly vulnerable group, they are held to a high standard of duty and care. Misconduct, incompetence and/or incapacity  may result in a formal complaint being filed with the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators against the practising RECE. Complaints against an RECE can be filed using the Complaint Intake Form found on the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators website. This complaint should contain details about the nature of the relationship with the RECE, the time and location of the incident, a concise statement describing the misconduct, incompetence or incapacity, whether others were involved in the incident, any steps that have been taken to resolve the matter and any outcomes reached (if any) and the anticipated resolution of the complaint. The Complaint may be submitted by fax, mail or email to the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators.

What Happens When a Complaint is filed?

Once a complaint has been received by the Complaints Committee, the Committee will consider and investigate complaints made against the RECE. When the complaint has been received, the Registrar will provide the complainant with confirmation of receipt and notify the RECE that a complaint has been filed against them and provide them with a copy of the complaint. The identity of the complainant will be kept confidential.

What Happens After a Complaint is Made?

If a complaint has been made to the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators, the Complaints Committee, the Executive Committee or Council will review and address it. If the issue cannot be resolved, it will then be referred to the Discipline Committee where a public disciplinary hearing will be held to address the complaint. Discipline hearings are administered by the Discipline and Fitness to Practise Committee by the Tribunals Secretariat within the Office of the Registrar. The Discipline Committee is comprised of elected and appointed Council members who will deliberate the complaints of misconduct or incompetence. During the discipline hearing, evidence will be presented and witnesses may be called on to provide testimony. Discipline hearings will be open to the public, subject to the Discipline Committee’s discretion. The outcome of the discipline hearing will be made public on the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators’ website.

If after assessment by the Discipline Committee the RECE is found guilty of professional misconduct or incompetence, the following actions may be taken:

  1. Direct the Registrar to revoke the RECE’S Certificate of Registration.
  2. Direct the Registrar to suspend the member’s certificate of registration for a specified period, not exceeding 24 months.
  3. Direct the Registrar to impose specified terms, conditions or limitations on the member’s certificate of registration.
  4. Require that the RECE be reprimanded, admonished or counselled by the Committee or its delegate.
  5. Imposition a fine on the RECE of up to $2,000 or instruct the RECE to pay costs.

Where the complaint relates to a ‘fitness to practice’ issue, the matter will be referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee, who will hear and determine whether the RECE is suffering from a physical or mental disorder that would render them unfit to carry on their professional responsibilities, or if their certificate of registration should be made subject to terms, conditions or limitations. Fitness to practice hearings, unlike discipline hearings, are not open to the public.

It is important to note that a finding of professional misconduct can have very serious implications on a RECE’s ability to practice. Although a RECE is not required to have a lawyer to respond to the complaint, it may be helpful to seek legal assistance. Our Firm can help guide you through this process to ensure you receive the best possible outcome in your case.

What Types of Acts or Omissions Give Rise to Professional Misconduct Complaints?

There are many different reasons a patient may wish to file a formal complaint against an RECE.  Some examples include:

  • Failing to adequately supervise a child
  • Physically, verbally, emotionally or psychologically abusing a child
  • Practising or purporting to practice the profession while under the influence of any substance or while adversely affected by any illness/dysfunction
  • Failing to maintain the standards of the profession
  • Releasing or disclosing information about a child who is under the member’s professional supervision to a person other than the child or the child’s parent or guardian without consent
  • Providing false information or documents to the College of Registered Childhood Educators or to any person with respect to the member’s professional qualifications

What Penalties Can an Early Childhood Educators Face as a Result of a Complaint?

As noted in previous sections, there are several courses of action the Committee may take, including: revocation of RECE’s Certificate of Registration, render the Certificate of Registration suspended or subject to limits and conditions, require the RECE be warned or admonished, order the RECE to receive counselling,  or impose a fine of up to $2,000 and costs upon the RECE.

How to Defend a Formal Complaint made to the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators?

As with all legal matters, the best defence will depend on the allegations raised and the distinct facts of the case. It is important to contact qualified legal counsel immediately upon receiving notice that a formal complaint has been filed against a RECE. In some cases, the allegations made against the RECE will be unfounded, or simply will not amount to professional misconduct. If this is the case, the RECE may state that they have not engaged in any professional misconduct as provided by the Childhood Educators Act,  2007, nor have they violated any of the rules or regulations stipulated in the Code of Ethics and Standards of the College of Registered Childhood Educators. In any case, the best plan of defence is to contact qualified legal counsel as soon as possible to assist in drafting a response to the particular complaint that has been filed against you. Our firm can help guide you through this process to ensure you receive the best possible outcome in your case.

What Duties Do Employers Have?

When a RECE is terminated, suspended, resigns or has restrictions placed on their duties due to professional misconduct, employers must report these changes to the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators. Employers must also report to the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators when they have belief that a RECE has engaged in acts of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity or become aware that a former or current RECE is charged/convicted of sexual offense with minors, and believe that because of this, a child may be at risk of harm.

Reports to the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators can be made by filing a Mandatory Employer Report. The Report should contain a detailed description of the incident, and include: the dates, location and parties involved, steps taken to resolve the matter, previous concerns about the RECE’s behaviour or professional abilities as well as any supporting documents that may be relevant. The Report may be submitted by fax, mail or email to the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators.

Unregulated Early Childhood Educators

Early childhood education is a practice regulated by the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators. The practice of early childhood education is defined as ‘the planning and delivery of inclusive play-based learning and care programs for children in order to promote the well-being and holistic development of children, and includes: Delivery of programs to children 12 years or younger, assessment of the programs and of the progress of children in them, communication with parents or persons with legal custody of children in programs to improve the development of the children and such other services or activities as may be prescribed by the regulations’. As such, only registered members of the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators may legally practise the profession of early childhood education and use the titles ‘registered early child educator’ (RECE) and ‘early childhood educator’ (ECE). This is to assure the public that persons practising early childhood education possess the requisite education and professional requirements, and will be held accountable for their actions by the ethical and professional standards prescribed by the College of Registered Early Childhood Educators.

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