ECEBC’s History

The Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia (ECEBC) is the association of educationally qualified individuals who work with children in early childhood settings in the province of BC.  The association changed its name from the British Columbia Preschool Teachers Association (BCPSTA) to ECEBC in 1988. 

BCPTSA was established in 1969, with its first constitution written and adopted by the membership at its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) on May 23, 1970.  In a series of interviews in 1997 of the Association’s past presidents, Joyce Brown (the first president of BCPSTA) told the story of a small group of preschool teachers and daycare workers who came together to both support preschool teachers and to work toward better educational preparation.  She described how “children needed something better and teachers needed to know what that ‘better’ was...teachers...were out there working on their own in isolation.”  Joyce described how she “...never felt we reached that level of teachers feeling their own professionalism.  That just was always a fire in my heart...that this should be a profession because it was such important work!”

The preamble to the Constitution at the time, spelled out the rationale for the formation of the organization and its purposes:

BCPSTA (1969)
In recognizing there are thousands of BC children in preschool and in daycare centres,
In knowing that there are hundreds of teachers involved in teaching these children,
In believing that these teachers of young children need support, encouragement and unification throughout BC,
We hereby seek to build together this Association dedicated to the varying interests of preschool teachers who serve young children and the community in which they live.

One of the earliest issues faced by BCPSTA was the name it had chosen for itself to represent workers in the preschool and daycare system. Both government officials and public school teachers resisted its efforts to call its members “teachers”. Hannah Polowy, the second president of BCPSTA, argued that “people that work with young children whether they are daycare or whatever...they are teachers. They are teaching every minute they are with children!”

Issues that faced later Association presidents and their boards were not unlike the issues faced today. In an article for the provincial government’s magazine People in 1975, Kay Britton (President, 1974 to 1976) stated:

“We are determined that the children entrusted to us shall be housed in quality facilities that meet the children’s and teacher’s needs... We are determined that our salaries shall rise above the poverty level... We are determined that support services for children, parents, and teachers should be available immediately on request. Too many of us have seen one or two years go by with nothing, except the teacher’s efforts, being extended to help and rehabilitate a child in need...”

Over the past forty years, ECEBC has focused much attention on promoting professionalism and improved educational preparation for its members, as well as on the development of professional support and resources to improve the quality of early childhood experiences for the children with whom they work.  While ECEBC has worked diligently on behalf of its members, benefits have also extended to everyone working in the early childhood field.

BCPSTA was an invited contributor to the DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) process in 1978 that resulted in guidelines for our post-secondary early childhood programs.  In 1979, the Association was invited to sit on the newly established Provincial Child Care Facilities Licensing Branch Advisory Committee, and in 1982 on the Early Childhood Education (EC) Articulation Committee.  Shortly thereafter, ECEBC maintained membership on the EC Articulation Committee, had several presidents sit on the Provincial Child Care Council (set up by the provincial government in 1994), and successfully led numerous contracts to research educational needs of practitioners (Blueprint, 1992), revised the ECEBC Code of Ethics (1994), and undertook several projects and contracts between 1989 to 2002 to advance the field’s professional status through self-regulation.  Self-regulation would allow the profession to determine entry requirements to the field and provide direct input into the approval of post-secondary early childhood programs.

ECEBC has held conferences annually since 1970, with the exception of 1984 and 2000.  The first three conferences were held in the Lower Mainland.  Beginning in 1973, with Focus on the Teacher in Kelowna, locations alternated from outlying Branches to the Lower Mainland.  In 1990, Expanding Horizons held at Vancouver’s Westin Bayshore was the start of a new trend.  The numbers of delegates attending conference had grown so quickly that conference facilities outside of the Lower Mainland were unable to provide adequate facilities.  Moreover, ECEBC was becoming increasingly dependent on conference revenue to meet increasing organizational costs.  With the exception of Together:  25 Years of Stories in Whistler in 1995 and Together:  Valuing the Early Years in Victoria in 1998, this trend continued until the early 2000’s.

BCPSTA/ECEBC has been through many changes since its inception in 1969.  Membership has grown from 118 members in its first year to over 500 in 1982.  Membership numbers continued to grow until 1987 when a sudden drop occurred, bringing membership down to 357.  Numbers increased to 2013 under the direction of our first Executive Director Joyce Branscombe in 1996, followed by another slow decline.  Since 2002, membership numbers have hovered between 800 and 1300.  The challenge of membership is thought to be largely the result of the low wages typical of Early Childhood Educator work.   Though every effort is made to keep membership fees low, the challenge continues to be a struggle between keeping fees affordable and meeting the demands of a vital, growing organization.

ECEBC Historical Timeline


  • Established as BC Preschool Teachers’ Association (BCPSTA)


  • First constitution adopted


  • First conference organized


  • Student membership category is introduced


  • Taking Care’s predecessor, Child Abuse: A Practical Guide for Prevention and Response for Early Childhood Education Centres, is developed and implemented


  • BCPSTA’s name is officially changed to ECEBC
  • The first edition of Let’s Talk About Touching (LTAT), a child sexual abuse prevention project, is published


  • The Early Childhood Educator publication achieves journal status
  • ECEBC hires its first Executive Director, Joyce Branscombe


  • ECEBC receives funding from BC’s Ministry of Women’s Equality to revise its child abuse prevention guide, the resulting publication being Taking Care: A resource Manual for Early Childhood Professionals


  • Code of Ethics developed


  • ECEBC becomes an affiliate of the Canadian Child Care Federation


  • ECEBC receives funding from the IOF Foresters Prevention of Child Abuse Fund Canada for the third edition of Taking Care


  • ECEBC establishes a volunteer management schedule for the provincial office and begins a comprehensive strategy planning process, including membership consultation.
  • ECEBC experiences a serious financial threat in the Fall of 1999. As a result, the Board terminates the positions of Office Manager and Executive Director.


  • ECEBC holds AGM and workshop instead of its annual provincial conference
  • ECEBC hires a part-time Coordinator, a merging of the administrative and executive director positions


  • Membership increases by 30%
  • ECEBC’s application to the Health Professions Council to establish a College of Early Childhood Educators is declined
  • ECEBC and the Vancouver School Board launch the second edition of Let’s Talk About Touching, a child sexual abuse prevention project, with funding provided by the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention, BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Vancouver Foundation, Vancouver School Board, the Vancouver Police Union Charitable foundation, and the Department of Justice Canada.


  • ECEBC holds its 31st Annual Conference, Childhood in the 21st Century, at UBC in Vancouver. The conference is organized on a “break even” budget.


  • ECEBC receives full funding from both the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention for the continuation of the Let’s Talk About Touching program.
  • ECEBC hires a part-time Office Assistant in May 2003


  • ECEBC’s Board of Directors creates a five-year Strategic Plan to formalize the organization’s goals and anticipated outcomes


  • The National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention provides ECEBC with funding for the fourth, and most recent, edition of Taking Care


  • ECEBC hires a full-time Executive Director (Sheila Davidson) and Bursary Administrator
  • ECEBC receives endowment funding from Vancity Community Foundation in the amount of $85,500.00
  • ECEBC receives bursary and professional development funding from Vancity Community Foundation in the amount of $45,915.00
  • ECEBC moves to its own storefront office at 2774 East Broadway in Vancouver


  • ECEBC launches its Leadership Program, 10 Communities of Innovation


  • ECEBC celebrates its 40th anniversary
  • The second cohort of the Leadership Program begins
  • ECEBC’s Vision and Mission statements are rewritten and presented at the May 2010 Annual General Meeting
  • ECEBC’s Executive Director, Sheila Davidson, retires in June 2010
  • ECEBC hires Emily Mlieczko as its new Executive Director in May 2010
  • ECEBC’s student bursary program fund is expended, leading to the suspension of the program at the end of the summer, and subsequent negotiation with the Ministry of Children and Family Development for a renewed funding commitment
  • ECEBC works with its provincial partner, the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC (CCCABC), to create and present its joint document “Our Emerging Plan for an Integrated System of Early Care and Learning in BC” to the community at large across the province. The briefings concluded with over 60 presentations held throughout the province to thousands of people, over 5000 briefing plans distributed, the online launch of a webinar, and an online survey provided for community feedback.
  • ECEBC achieves registered charitable status, opening the door to fundraising opportunities for its programs
  • ECEBC expands its “Associate” membership category to include Assistant ECEs and Family Child Care providers


  • ECEBC and its coalition partner, CCCABC, redraft the “Emerging Plan” for release in April 2011
  • The third cohort of the Leadership Program begins
  • ECEBC holds its 40th annual conference, Dedicated to Leading and Creating Change, in Richmond
  • ECEBC’s Board of Directors and Branch Chairs meet in October 2011 to begin work on the creation of a five-year strategic plan to formalize the organization’s goals and anticipated outcomes


  • The fourth cohort of the Leadership Program begins
  • ECEBC holds its 41st annual conference, Playing it Forward: Discovering the Wonder and Value of Authentic Play, in Richmond
  • ECEBC and its coalition partner, CCCABC, continue outreach work on the Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning


  • The fifth cohort of the Leadership Program begins.
  • ECEBC holds its 42nd annual conference, Celebrate the Essence of the Child and Champion a Better Future, in Richmond.
  • Leading up to the provincial election in May 2013, the early care and learning sector and the $10/Day Child Care Plan received much media attention and had a visible impact in provincial party platforms.
  • The $10/Day Child Care Plan has 1.6 million supporters.


BC Pre-School Teacher’s Assocation (BCPSTA) Presidents:

Joyce Brown (1970-1972)
Hannah Polowy (1972-1974)
Kay Britton (1974-1976)
Bridie McIlwraith (1976-1980)


  Rita Oudelaar (1980-1982)
Thelma Varcoe (1982-1984)
Diana (Peggy) McDonald (1984-1988)
Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia (ECEBC) Presidents:
Susan Harney (1988-1990)
Sandra Griffin (1990-1992)
Linda McDonell (1992-1994)
Trudy Norton (1994-1996)
Judy Pollard (1996-1998)
Chris Gay (1998-2000)
Linda McDonell (2000-2002)

Diane Tannahill (2002-2004)
Amy Collum (resigned mid-term 2004-2005)
Diane Tannahill (mid-term 2004-2005 to 2006)
Toni Hoyland (2006-2008)
Vi-Anne Zirnhelt (2008-2010)
Denise Marshall (2010 - 2013)
Taya Whitehead (2013-Present)


Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia
309 - 515 West Pender Street ·  Vancouver, BC  V6B 1V5
Phone: (604) 709-6063 · Toll free: (800) 797-5602 · Fax: (604) 709-6077 · Email: [email protected]