Home 9 Newsletter 9 Employer Newsletter – Spring 2024

Employer Newsletter – Spring 2024

May 7, 2024

Headshot of Millie Forbes RECE and Hongliang Hu RECE. Text displays Mental Health.

Supporting Staff Well-Being

At the core of the early childhood education (ECE) profession are incredible people who often focus on the needs of others before themselves, which can result in fatigue and burnout. Now more than ever, it’s crucial for employers to reflect on the well-being practices in organizations and be proactive in supporting RECEs in their mental health and wellness journey.

Caring and relationship-based work is emotional and challenging. By prioritizing the mental health and well-being of early childhood educators, employers can create a healthier and more supportive work environment that benefits educators, the children they care for and the organization.

It’s important for RECEs to take time away from their professional responsibilities to identify and address their self-care needs. Employers can support this by encouraging practices that enable staff to support their own well-being.

When it comes to mental health supports, there is no one-size fits all approach. We all have different lived experiences influenced by different environments, making our mental health needs unique.  

To inspire RECEs in taking care of themselves in and out of their work environment, we spoke with Millicent (Millie) Forbes RECE, who recently retired after almost 40 years in the profession, and Hongliang Hu RECE, who’s been an RECE for more than 15 years.

What do you do to take care of your well-being, within your work environment and away from it?

Hongliang Hu RECE 

Within my work environment:

Self-care includes things I do to restore and increase my mental and emotional well-being. By finding ways to replenish my well-being during work, I can be a more productive and motivated employee. Each day:

  • I pack a nutritious and delicious lunch and choose ingredients that are going to make me feel energized.
  • I also add some purpose to my work day by setting personal and professional goals for myself.
  • I’ll start feeling more motivated and inspired to make my day more meaningful within a supportive work environment.
  • Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature is one of my best things daily. Nature gives us a sense that we are part of something greater than ourselves. It can get us out of our own heads. 

Away from the work environment:

  • I feel engaged in activities outside of work that bring joy and relaxation.
  • Listening to music helps me feel calm, capture my attention, boost moods and create a sense of happiness and pleasure.
  • I also incorporate mindfulness practices, meditation, or deep-breathing exercises into my daily routines to promote mental well-being.
  • Hobbies and leisure activities contribute to a well-rounded and fulfilling life. In my free time, hiking the Bruce Trail is one of my favorites. Hiking with carrying a pack and using poles engages the whole body, increases strength, boosts endurance and contributes to a healthy mind.

Millie Forbes RECE

I am recently retired from the practice of early learning. I was fortunate to work for an employer who supported mental health and well-being. Our health benefits included a wide range of services to take care of your physical and mental well-being. I took advantage of these services in and outside of the work environment. For example, we had benefits for psychotherapists. It’s good to talk to an expert about some of the challenges you face in life; you don’t have to go through them all by yourself.

At work, a good support system was nurtured and it proved to be effective for my team and me. Our team meetings included check-ins on how we are all doing, and there was a true sense of safety in doing so. Sometimes, there were days when I felt a little overwhelmed or anxious about something. I would pause, listen to my mind and my body and commit to an action that helps me release that feeling. It can be a few deep breathing exercises or a few stretches. 

Outside of work now in retirement, I spend time by the water. I’m lucky to live near Lake Ontario so I frequently take walks by the shore – it’s therapeutic. Having recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, eating well and getting a good night’s sleep are essential.

Taking care of myself continues to be a work in progress for me. There were those days when it used to be that a chocolate bar and my couch was all I could handle at that moment, and that’s OK. Now I eat all kinds of berries and drink a lot of water to aid in my continued wellness. Try to make choices that keep you physically and mentally well.

Share this with your staff:
Additional mental health resources and support can be found on our Wellness Resources page. 

More about Millie and Hongliang:

Newly retired as of March 2024, Millie Forbes’ tenure of almost 40 years in the profession has seen her hold various roles. Millie began her career as a supply teacher for the Nursery Support Services. She later served as an educator, assistant director and director with the YMCA of Greater Toronto, and was a supervisor in the Regional Municipality of Durham’s Directly Operated Programs for 19 years. Most recently, she was a Quality and Contract Compliance Advisor with the Regional Municipality of Durham, Children’s Services Division. She also served in a lead role as a facilitator for Durham Region Children’s Service Anti-Black Racism initiatives, and as a committee member of Best Start Durham, supporting the Early Years community in Durham. Millie has always been a strong believer that early childhood educators are essential contributors to healthy societies. 

Hongliang Hu holds both an MEd degree in Curriculum and Pedagogy and an MA degree in Early Childhood Studies (ECS). She has her Specialist qualification in Environmental Education. Her research and publication interests include early years curriculum, pedagogy, policy and practice; social research with children; nature-based education, environmental inquiry and climate change education in the early years. The combination of her academic achievement and professional experience, makes her stand out as a specialist in environmental education, contributing to the advancement of sustainable practices and environmental awareness in the early years and beyond.


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People seated and applause. Text displays Congratulations. CECE Election 2024.

2024 College Council Election Results

The College is pleased to welcome new and returning members to Council representing the South East Region (District 3), Central East Region (District 4) and South West Region (District 8). Council members will serve for a three-year term starting June 2024. 

The 24-person Council governing the College oversees policy development and makes decisions related to entry-to-practice requirements, ethical and professional standards, professional misconduct, incompetence and incapacity.

As an employer, if you’d like to learn more about the election process and the role of Council, you can read our article from the Fall 2023 issue of the Employer Newsletter.

Please join us in congratulating our new and returning Council members:

Krystal Oxbro – District 3

Krystal is the owner of a multi-site child care organization and has been working in licensed child care settings for the past 24 years. “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, working in the field and raising a child with special needs, I have learned that inclusion is not just a value, but a set of actions that help ensure children and families have a voice and feel a true sense of belonging. As a College Council member, I would utilize my strong leadership skills to connect and collaborate with RECEs across the province and continue to advocate for diversity and inclusion within the ethical standards that shape what we do as RECEs every day.”

Amanda Barg – District 4

Amanda is a newly registered ECE who graduated with an Honours Diploma in Early Childhood Education from Durham College in 2023. She works for the YMCA-EarlyON of Durham Region. “As a Council member, I will work tirelessly to create an inclusive environment that values and promotes continuous learning. I believe in the power of collaboration and open dialogue to address the evolving needs of our community.”

 Stacee Stevenson – District 4

Stacee is the program manager for CWELCC / contracted services at the Regional Municipality of Durham. She has been re-elected as a Council member for her second three-year term. “I bring to the table a strong work ethic, a creative mind, and the desire to make change happen. It is my goal to continue engaging, influencing, leading and making a positive impact as District 4’s representative on the Council.”

Cheryl Duffett – District 8

Cheryl is a system leader for the Thames Valley District School Board. She brings extensive experience working with people from a variety of backgrounds and lived experiences. “I look forward to sharing my professional experiences with others while learning from theirs, honing my leadership skills and connecting with other RECEs across the province.”

Tamashawn Mifsud – District 8

Tamashawn (Tam) has been employed in the early learning sector over 29 years in various roles. Currently, she’s the Program and Policy Advisor for London Children’s Connection and teaches part-time at Fanshawe College’s ECE program. “I am passionate about the importance of recognizing ECEs as professional and the importance of integrity in our role working with children and families. I am committed to ensuring the profession is diverse and embraces inclusivity in all domains.”


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Woman looking at a laptop screen.

15th Annual Meeting of Members Highlights

The 15th Annual Meeting of Members (AMM) was hosted in January 2024 by the College of Early Childhood Educators.

The purpose of the AMM was to share highlights of the College’s accomplishments and results for the fiscal year 2022-2023.

Watch highlights from the AMM and read the related Annual Report. We encourage you to share this with RECEs in case they missed the meeting.


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