Enhancing partnership and strengthening leadership within the early learning and child care sector in rural British Columbia
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This action research study sought to improve community participation and leadership in the communities of Golden and Area A, in eastern BC, which are part of the Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) sector, responsible to the BC Ministry of Education. A relational approach was necessary to strengthen the frontline leadership within the patchwork of systems making up the ELCC sector, and involved varying disciplines, including early childhood educators, parents, teachers, and community-based service providers. Participants engaged in four community engagement workshops focusing partnerships, and how an engagement framework might support sustained relationships and strengthen leadership. Building a sense of belonging among the ELCC sector emerged as a key building block to strong partnerships, reinforcing the relationships among five themes: creating safe spaces for learning and engagement; connectedness to self and the families the partnership serves; space and time to deepen relationships and build confidence; opportunities for meaningful engagement; changing the organizational/system culture to equalize and professionalize the ELCC field.