There was a time when community care facility licensing work – ensuring that adult and child care facilities operate in compliance with regulations – was done mostly off the sides of desks, typically by staff of public health units, such as environmental health officers and public health nurses.
In the early 1990s as the federal government started providing dedicated funding for child care, a shift was made to require licensing officers for child care to have an Early Childhood Education background. There was, however, no specific province-wide training for licensing officers.
Now, more than 20 years later, British Columbia is a leader in the field, thanks to Canada’s first and only stand-alone, post-secondary program for community care licensing officers at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC), said Sue Bedford, one of the co-creators of the program.
Bedford, who serves as the B.C. Ministry of Health’s Director of both Community Care Facility Licensing, and the Assisted Living Registry, worked as a residential care licensing officer herself early in her career. She said the program was a long time in the making and has benefited from JIBC’s educational expertise and advancements in online education platforms.
Certainly for the people I know, they're very dedicated to the field, they know that the work that they do does make a difference
It is strongly recommended that students come to the program with experience in a related field such as childcare or residential long-term care, a passion for the work, and a penchant for working with people. Community care licensing is a way of advancing in that line of work, to a better-paying, public-sector job.
“It’s a good next step for them in their career from that hands-on work with the vulnerable population, to actually being a regulator of the care providers,” said Bedford. “It’s just a nice career move for people who have lots of front-line experience already.”
JIBC’s Advanced Specialty Certificate in Community Care Licensing (CCLO) program includes training in administrative law, investigations, report writing, and communication and conflict resolution skills, all of which are essential skills for a licensing officer, she said.
“When [the health authorities] hire someone who’s been to the JIBC program, [the graduates] have a much better understanding of the field and take a lot less time to orient and so they’re finding that they have a better pool of candidates to draw on,” she said. “And even those who haven’t finished the whole program, if they’ve taken some of those core courses in admin law, in report writing and investigations, those kinds of courses, they’re just much, much better equipped to be a good licensing officer.”
Bedford noted that there are many people retiring in the field now and in the future. The aging population and expected increase in childcare facilities mean “we’re going to always need licensing officers.” And while graduation from JIBC’s CCLO program is not a requirement for the job, it’s certainly considered a preferred credential to have.
“I’m really pleased that B.C. has been the leader in this field and I think that it’s a very worthwhile program,” she said. “I think that the families that have people in care, whether they’re seniors or whether they’re children, I think that it’s a source of comfort to them that there’s a body out there that’s dedicated to inspecting those facilities and making sure they‘re operating well and providing the best care they can for the population.”
There’s also a sense of satisfaction that comes with the job, she noted. “Certainly for the people I know, they’re very dedicated to the field, they know that the work that they do does make a difference.”
For more information, visit JIBC’s Advanced Specialty Certificate in Community Care Licensing program page.