Members of Expert Panel on Early Learning and Child Care Data and Research

Members list

Morna Ballantyne, Executive Director, Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada

Morna Ballantyne serves as the Executive Director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC), known as Child Care Now. Her interest in early learning and child care was originally sparked when she was employed as a researcher with the Canadian Union of Public Employees and was charged with investigating public policy options and collective bargaining proposals for increasing the participation of women in the paid labour force and bringing about gender pay and employment equity. Later, when she gave birth to her first child and then a second, she experienced first-hand the consequences of not having access to affordable licensed child care and became involved in local, provincial and national child care advocacy. Over the past three decades she has written and spoken extensively about early learning and child care; she has coordinated multiple child care advocacy campaigns; she served as a member of the Board of Directors of two non-profit community-based child care centres; and played a leadership role in convening ChildCare2020, the 2014 national child care policy conference.

Lucie Champagne, strategic advisor at Association québécoise des centres de la petite enfance (AQCPE, a Québec Child Care’s services association)

Lucie Champagne has been actively engaged in the early childhood world for almost 20 years. Holder of a master’s degree in psychology, she taught child development at the collegial and the university levels. She also gave numerous courses and conferences to early childhood educators.

She was a member of various committees for the ministère de la Famille du Québec relating to ELCC, including the committee for enrichment of the Québec’s educational program for child care services Meeting Early Childhood Needs and the consultative committee for a guide to foster children’s social and emotional development.

She has been working since 2013 at AQCPE where she contributes to the development of support and coaching programs for child care services. She also works to reinforce a strategic partnership with organizations that care about promoting early childhood education. Lucie also participated in the series Dis-moi… (50 videos on the early child development) as content specialist and scriptwriter.

Dr. Gordon Cleveland, Associate Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Toronto

Dr. Gordon Cleveland is Associate Professor of Economics Emeritus in the Department of Management at the University of Toronto Scarborough and has recently been Honorary Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. He is collaborating investigator with a research team of educators and psychologists (headed by Prof. Nathalie Bigras) at University of Quebec at Montreal and Laval University studying early education and child care services in Quebec.

With co-authors, he has studied many aspects of economic and policy issues relevant to early childhood education and care. He has published studies on the costs and benefits of universal good-quality child care services in Canada, the financing of child care systems in OECD countries, the effect of child care costs on mothers’ employment, the determinants of the wages of child care workers, the determinants of quality in early childhood care services, the structure of costs in early childhood centres, and the impact of non-profit status on the production of quality in child care.

His most recent work focuses on measuring the affordability and demand patterns of child care services, and on econometric techniques used to uncover causal patterns in early childhood research. He recently led a year-long project estimating child care demand relationships in Canada and applying these to build a model that the City of Toronto uses to predict future demand for licensed child care and to do policy simulations. He is the main author of Affordable for All: Making Licensed Child Care Affordable in Ontario, a recent report to the Ontario Ministry of Education. This report recommended provision of free child care to children of preschool age in Ontario as the next step forward in improving affordability in Ontario. Its main recommendations were adopted as government policy.

Barry Forer, Ph. D. Research methodologist and statistician, Human Early Learning Partnership

Dr. Barry Forer is a research methodologist and statistician at the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at UBC. Over the past 32 years, he has worked both as an independent consultant and university Research Associate, specializing in early childhood development, learning, and child care. His research projects have included: studies of child care quality, usage patterns, affordability, and stability; a number of child care needs assessments of parents and operators; research on workforce-related issues in the child care sector; studies on the effect of neighbourhood socio-economic status on child development and how early developmental vulnerability influences later school achievement; and validation research on the psychometric properties of the Early Development Instrument. His Ph.D. was completed in the Measurement, Evaluation, and Research Methodology program at the UBC Faculty of Education.

Martha Friendly, Executive Director, Childcare Resource and Research Unit

Martha Friendly is the founder and Executive Director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, which has produced Canada’s leading compilation of ECEC data, Early childhood education and care in Canada about every two years since 1992. She has authored numerous articles, chapters and reports on child care, two books on child care policy and many popular pieces. Martha studied in the US, majoring in psychology as an undergraduate, and studying social psychology at the graduate level at the University of Connecticut. Before immigrating to Canada in 1971, she became involved in early childhood education and child care research, studying the American Head Start program at Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ. She first worked on child care research at the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto, then became a research coordinator at the University of Toronto's Child in the City Programme (at the Centre for Urban & Community Studies) in 1978. In 1982, she founded the Childcare Resource and Research Unit at the Urban Centre where it remained until becoming an independent nonprofit organization in 2007. In 2015, Martha received an honourary Doctor of Laws from Trent University, which cited her “research and activism”.

Don Giesbrecht, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Child Care federation

Don Giesbrecht is CEO of the Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF), Canada’s largest member based early learning and child care organization. Prior to his current role as CEO, he was President of the CCCF Board of Directors from 2006 to 2012. His is currently a member of the Province of BC’s Childcare Sector Labour Market Partnership and of the Vanier Institute for the Family Canadian Military and Veteran Family Leadership Circle. He was the Chair of the Alberta Resource Centre for Quality Enhancement, an expert panel member of the B.C. Universal Child Care Prototype Sites Selection Committee and a member of the Province of Manitoba’s Early Learning and Child Care Commission. He is a past Board Executive Committee Member of the Child Care Human Resources Sector Council, served as the President of the Manitoba Child Care Association and was a member of the Federal Ministerial Advisory Committee on the Child Care Spaces Initiative. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his service on behalf of Canadian families in 2013.

Before working as the CEO of the CCCF, Don was the Executive Director of a non-profit, multi-age early learning and child care program in Winnipeg.

Margo Greenwood, Academic Lead, National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, University of Northern British Columbia, Vice President of Indigenous Health for the Northern Health Authority

Dr. Margo Greenwood, National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health Academic Leader, is an Indigenous scholar of Cree ancestry with more than 25 years' experience focused on the health and well-being of Indigenous children and families. She has worked as a front line caregiver of early childhood services, designed early childhood curriculum, programs, and evaluations, and taught early childhood education courses at both the college and university levels. She has served on numerous national and provincial federations, committees and assemblies, and has undertaken work with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, the United Nations, and the Canadian Reference Group to the World Health Organization Commission on Social Determinants.

Currently, Margo is a Professor in both the First Nations Studies and Education programs at the University of Northern British Columbia. Her current research interests include historic and contemporary systemic and structural impacts on the development of early childhood programs and services in Canada; social determinants of health with particular emphasis on colonization and children's rights; children's cultural identity formation and the exploration and articulation of Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies.

Jeffrey Hawkins, Executive Director, Hands: The Family Help Network

Jeffrey Hawkins was the executive director of Hands: The Family Help Network. Hands provides comprehensive client-centered, professional and skilled services to infants, children, youth, families and adults with a developmental disability, that address social, emotional, behavioural, physical and developmental difficulties. Jeffrey has experience leading policy discussions at the provincial, regional and community levels. He holds a certificate in Not-for-Profit Leadership from the Harvard Business School and is a professional social worker. His social work focuses on infants, children, youth and families where struggles with barriers of social exclusion and isolation, income, different types of discrimination, health, most particularly mental health, and disabilities are core. He brings an understanding of the critical role early learning and child care play for the individual child and family journey and the overall well-being of everyone.

André Lebon, Psychoeducator, Centre de psychoéducation du Québec

André Lebon has a background as a psychoeducator and has completed more than 50 assignments as a consultant for departments and organizations working in the health and social services sector, and more specifically in the areas of children’s services, mental health services and services in an Indigenous environment.

In the area of early childhood education, he headed the Centre de psychoéducation du Québec. Under his direction, the Fluppy and Brindami social skills program was developed and widely distributed in daycare centres and kindergarten classrooms. He later helped to establish the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development. From 2003 to 2006, he was director of early childhood development at the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, and he continues to collaborate as an early childhood consultant. His most recent mandates have included chairing the incubation of the Observatoire des tout-petits project, which was launched in April 2016, as well as chairing the Commission sur l’éducation à la petite enfance. On May 30, 2019, the Premier of Quebec announced the creation of a special commission to study youth protection and general youth services. Mr. Lebon was appointed one of the two vice presidents of this commission.

Patsy McKinney, Executive Director, Under One Sky-Monoqonuwicik-Neoteetjg Mosigisg Inc.

Patsy is the Executive Director of Under One Sky Head Start in Fredericton New Brunswick. She holds a Bachelor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies. She brings over 40 years of experience working with and for urban Indigenous organizations at both the provincial and national level. She has been a member of the National Aboriginal Head Start Council with the Public Health Agency Canada for 8 years and served as Chair for 4 years. Currently, she sits on the Advisory Board of the Family Information Liaison Unit. Additionally, she is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Literacy Coalition of NB and is on the Executive Committee of the Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network Atlantic Research Centre and National Network Council. She also sits on the Board of the National Association of Friendship Centers (NAFC) and the NAFC National Policy Committee, working to proactively develop proposals with a ‘National’ scope to better position the NAFC going forward. Through her various positions, she worked with University of New Brunswick and Early Childhood Care & Education New Brunswick to develop an Aboriginal Support Document for New Brunswick’s early childhood education Curriculum Framework. Patsy brings an extensive knowledge of early learning and child care from the perspective of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and cultures as well as a demonstrated ability to work with multiple stakeholders and communities.

Susan Prentice, Professor of Sociology, University of Manitoba

Susan Prentice is Professor of Sociology at the University of Manitoba, where she specializes in historical and contemporary childcare policy. Her work revolves around the complex intersections of gender and care, family, work, and public policy, She has written widely on many aspects of childcare service, policy, and delivery, including privatization and marketization, the early childhood education labour force, the relationship of childcare to family policy, and on the politics and strategies of childcare as a social movement. She has been a member of local, provincial and national childcare advocacy organizations, and is currently a member of the Steering Committee of the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba. A selected list of her recent publication is available on the University of Manitoba: Susan Prentice profile. She can be followed on Twitter at @SusanPrentice

Maya Roy, CEO, YWCA

Maya is a diversity specialist with 22 years of experience in a variety of sectors in public policy development, public health, adult education and social work. Her work has taken her to Thailand, Brazil, India and the UK where she worked with NGOs to support human rights and violence prevention. Her essays have been published in Going Beyond the Journey (2013) by Insomniac Press, and she is the winner of the 2013 CASSA Gender Advocate Award and the Toronto Community Foundation's Vital People award in 2014. She has a Bachelor of Social Work from the Ryerson School of Social Work, and has a Masters in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics. Maya was a member of the Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 Presidency. She is currently part of Young Global Leaders with the World Economic Forum and sits on the board of Women’s College Hospital.

Erin Schryer, CEO, Origins Natural Learning Childcare

Dr. Erin Schryer is a passionate reading researcher and early learning expert. She is the CEO of New Brunswick’s largest early learning and childcare company, Origins Natural Learning Childcare in Saint John, New Brunswick. The company provides early learning and childcare for more than 400 families in the greater Saint John, New Brunswick region and is a leader in providing professional development to staff and others in the sector. Previously, Erin was the Executive Director of Elementary literacy Inc., a provincial non-profit organization supporting students and schools to achieve early reading success. There, Erin grew their volunteer reading programs, ELF and CLEF, by more than 500 volunteers and 80 schools. Erin obtained her PhD from the Faculty of Education at UNB in 2014 and remains an Honorary Research Associate with the institution and an active researcher regularly consulting with schools and parents on early learning and reading instruction. Erin lives in Quispamsis with her husband Sean and two young children, Beau and Call.

Christopher Smith, Ph.D. Muttart Foundation

Christopher is Assistant Executive Director for the Muttart Foundation, a private charitable foundation based in Edmonton. He has lead responsibility for the Foundation’s work in the area of early education and care which focuses on advancing public policy in the best interests of young children and their families.

Christopher also serves on the Steering Committee for the Community University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth and Families at the University of Alberta and is a member of the Ministry of Children’s Services Advisory Committee for early learning and care services in the province and the Ministry of Education’s Advisory Committee for Building and Inclusive Education System. He is the former Chair of the Success by 6 Council of Partners for the United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, and a member of the Early Childhood Development National Funders Working Group.

Nora Spinks, Chief Executive Officer, Vanier Institute

As Chief Executive Officer at the Vanier Institute, Nora Spinks works with individuals and organizations that study, serve and support families to mobilize knowledge and enhance the national understanding of families in Canada. A researcher, author, and well-known keynote speaker, Nora is a sought-after guest on television and radio, where she regularly provides the “family lens” to issues of importance to Canadians. Nora has developed and evaluated childcare programs and services, conducted childcare related research, taught ECE and facilitated professional and leadership development in the sector. She has participated on many committees and advisor panels and roundtables, she was on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Child Care Federation and a member of the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services Expert Panel on Quality and Human Resources. She has served as an advisor and consultant to leaders in business, law, labour, government and community. A strategic leader, Nora has contributed to the success of a variety of federal, provincial, community and workplace programs across diverse sectors, industries and professions. Recognized internationally as a leader in families and work, Nora is a recipient of many awards celebrating her contribution to workplaces and communities across Canada.

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