Valerie Blaauw has been an active voice in child care for over thirty five years. She began her career as the Director of South End Community Day Care Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1974. At that time, the child care centre had twenty five children and was located in the basement of the old Civic Hospital. Valerie worked with the Halifax Regional Municipality in designing and building a new centre, which was completed in 1983. The centre has spaces for seventy three children, infants to twelve years of age, from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds.
During the past ten years, Valerie has been on the Advisory Committee of the Saint Mary’s School, which has successfully fought four attempts for closure of the school. She served as the President Education Association of Nova Scotia and in 1990 was acting chairperson for the Child Care Advocacy Association of Nova Scotia. During this time, the association held a one day strike, which prompted the Nova Scotia Government to provide salary grants for child care workers. While on the board of the Non-profit Director’s Association, Valerie was involved in many governmental meetings. She also worked on the Round Table for Child Care, which serves as an advisory board to the Minister of Community Services.
Besides her commitment to the well being of children in Nova Scotia, Valerie has also been active nationally, working with the National Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada. In 1983, Valerie Blaauw attended the Winnipeg Conference - the goal was to organize all child care professionals across Canada. Two advocacy organizations grew from this conference, the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada and the Canada Child Care Federation. In the 1990s, Valerie worked for children and youth concerning legislation for the Child Protection Act. During her work on the Child Protection Act, she worked with a group of other concerned child care advocates and the Minister of Community Services to discuss legislation. Valerie felt that this was a very productive year, bringing many different groups together to respond to the legislation.
A Maritime member of CAYC, who worked as a student in Valerie’s classroom in the early seventies, said Valerie was using open-ended materials and creating environments full of materials to explore long before it became popular. Her centre, the South End Community Day Care Centre was always an inclusive Centre. The staff “brought up” in this environment, were raised to believe that inclusion was the norm. The longevity of the staff at her centre illustrates that child care can be a profession. Valerie’s work for higher paid child care educators has paid off.
In spite of the time constraints that directors face when running a child care centre, Valerie has managed to look beyond her own centre to see the bigger picture. Her work towards quality child care is endless. After thirty five years, Valerie continues to work as the director of South End Community Day Care. The Friends of Children Award will be presented to Valerie this spring in Nova Scotia.