Nominate an early childhood educator

The Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education

These awards honour outstanding and innovative early childhood educators for their leadership, exemplary early childhood education practices, and their commitment to help build the foundation children need to make the best possible start in life.

2023 Prime Minister's Awards Guidelines

How do I get started?

Start the process today by downloading a nomination form.

Nomination deadline

Nomination packages must be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Awards program office by January 17, 2023 — 11:59 a.m. Pacific Time.

Who is eligible?

  • Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada;
  • Educators who have successfully completed training in early childhood education and care;
  • Candidates who have provided direct education and care to young children at least 15 hours per week in a licensed childcare centre for the past three years.

Here is the full list of eligibility criteria.

What do recipients receive?

Recipients of the award receive the following:

  • A certificate from the Prime Minister
  • Promotion of their best practices in early education and care
  • National recognition for their contribution to excellence in early childhood education and commitment to help build the foundation children need to make the best possible start in life.

How do I nominate an early childhood educator?

Nominators need to submit a detailed nomination package that includes:

  • A completed and signed nomination form
  • A detailed nomination text that demonstrates how the educator meets each of the four selection criteria
  • Three letters of support from individuals who are familiar with the nominee and the work they do as a successful educator
  • Supporting documentation that confirms the educator's eligibility
    • A copy of the nominee's training certification, degree or diploma in early childhood education and care
    • A copy of the setting's operating license
    • A statement of employment from the nominee’s supervisor  confirming that the nominee has worked at least 15 hours per week providing direct education and care to young children in a licensed Canadian setting for a minimum of three years

On this page

Awards

Early childhood educators are eligible for two awards:

  • The national Certificate of Excellence
    • Recipients are traditionally invited to Ottawa to receive their award from the Prime Minister or his designate.
    • Recipients receive a certificate and letter of congratulations from the Prime Minister.
    • Each recipient's centre also receives a certificate.
  • The regional Certificate of Achievement
    • Recipients are traditionally honoured locally at community events and receive their award from their Member of Parliament or local leader.
    • Recipient receive a certificate and letter of congratulations from the Prime Minister.
    • Each recipient's centre also receives a certificate.

Each year, the Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education awards up to 5 Certificates of Excellence and up to 10 Certificates of Achievement.

The achievements of all recipients are promoted both nationally and in the educators' home communities. Certificate of Excellence recipients are profiled in individual videos describing their exemplary educators practices and how they might be replicated by other educators. The videos will be used to dynamically share national recipients' stories with the education community and the media helping to promote their accomplishments. The videos will be posted on-line and shared on social media.

All PMA recipients are expected to conform to the program's Code of Conduct.

Eligibility Criteria

At the time of nomination, all nominees must meet the following criteria:

Nominees must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Evidence: Nominees must sign the nomination form attesting that they are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Nominees must have successfully completed training in early childhood education and care.

Evidence: A copy of the nominee's official certificate from a provincial or territorial body, training certification, degree or diploma showing completion must be provided.

Nominees must work in a licensed early childhood setting, as defined by provincial or territorial government regulations.

Evidence: A copy of the setting's operating license is required (except for nominees who work in Aboriginal Head Start sites on and off reserve). For nominees working in a school-based setting, a statement of employment confirming the type of school-based early learning program is required. Certified teachers who work in a kindergarten class should be nominated for a Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence.

Nominees must provide hands-on, direct education and care to young children in a licensed Canadian ECE setting at least 15 hours per week and must have worked as an early childhood educator for at least three years and must still be teaching at the time of nomination.

Evidence: A statement of employment confirming direct education and care to young children at least 15 hours per week for a minimum of three years in a licensed Canadian ECE setting is required. Separate statements of employment are required in cases where the educator has worked in different ECE settings over the three-year period.

Nominees must not be past Certificate of Excellence recipients.

Evidence: Certificate of Achievement recipients are not eligible to receive another Certificate of Achievement. Unsuccessful candidates are eligible for re-nomination.

Note

If the ECE certification is withdrawn or the license to operate is lost between the time of nomination and the award presentation, the PMA program office reserves the right to withdraw the candidacy. If eligibility status of a nomination is compromised or changes (e.g. due to loss of certification as a result of professional misconduct, the closure of a centre, etc.), the nominator and/or nominee has the responsibility to inform the PMA program office of a change in status in writing.

Who can Nominate

Nominators may be any person or group with direct knowledge of the nominee's contribution, such as:

  • Parents of children
  • Colleagues
  • Centre director or supervisor, etc.
  • Community leaders

The following are not acceptable nomination methods:

  • Self-nominations
  • Nominations from immediate family membersFootnote 1.
  • Posthumous nominations

Selection Criteria

Award recipients are selected based on the excellence and innovation of their outstanding ability to engage and support the development of the children in their care, and on their overall commitment to the development of children and the early childhood education and care profession. While a specific exemplary project or practice may form part of a nomination, nominees are judged on their overall and ongoing merits as educators.

In selecting award recipients, the committee looks for clear evidence showing that nominees have excelled in all of the following four areas:

  1. Support of child development
  2. Innovation
  3. Involvement with parents, families and the community
  4. Commitment and leadership in the field

How do I prepare a nomination package?

Once you determine the educator meets the eligibility criteria above, you can start preparing the nomination package. A nomination package consists of six requirements; a nomination form, a nomination text, three letters of support, a copy of training certification, degree or diploma in early childhood education and care, a copy of the setting's operating license, and a statement of employment from the supervisor.

You can nominate an individual educator or a group of up to three educators who work together. Each member of a team must meet the eligibility requirements described above.

Failure to provide any one of these requirements may result in your nomination to not be evaluated.

1. Nomination Form

Please complete one nomination form for each nominee. The form must be signed and dated by both the nominator and the nominee.

Should the nominee also be the owner/operator of the early childhood setting, endorsement of a representative of the nominee’s professional association or an occupation-based guarantor is required.  An occupation-based guarantor must practice in one of the following occupations: medical doctor, dean/head of university or college, dentist, judge, lawyer/notary, notary public, pharmacist, police officer, signing officer of a bank or trust company or financial institution that offers a full range of banking services, or veterinarian.

For team nominations, complete a nomination form for each member of the team.

You need to:

  1. Use your computer. The forms may not open on mobile devices (iPads, tablets, mobile phones).
  2. You must save the file on your computer in a place you can remember.
  3. Use Adobe Reader 10 or higher to open the file on your computer. Make sure you have Adobe Reader 10 (or higher) already installed on your computer. If not, download Adobe Reader 10 for free. Adobe has help for solving common issues.

Signing the nomination form for an online submission

The nominator and nominee are required to sign the nomination form prior to submission. To be able to sign the form once downloaded onto your desktop:

  1. Complete the nomination form with Adobe Reader® 10 (or a more recent version);
  2. Print the nomination form;
  3. The nominator and nominee sign the form;
  4. Scan the signed nomination form;
  5. Attach the signed form to the electronic PDF form by selecting the Add Attachments feature.

If you are having trouble downloading the nomination form, you can use the PDF print only nomination form (PDF 312 KB) or email us at primeministersawards-prixdupremierministre@ised-isde.gc.ca and we will send you the form by email.

2. Nomination Text

An effective nomination package should clearly illustrate the outstanding achievements of the nominee and clearly explain why the individual should receive one of Canada's highest honours for educators.

For a team nomination, the nomination text should reflect a true collaboration, not simply a collection of individual accomplishments. The nomination text should describe how the team worked together to meet each of the selection criteria.

Download the Nomination text template (PDF, 79 KB) for formatting guidelines and suggestions.

Nominators should:

  • Organize their text using each selection criterion as a separate heading;
  • Describe special projects, philosophies, unique learning environments, extracurricular activities, or special achievements that make this nominee excel;
  • Focus on the nominee's overall achievements and not simply on one particular project;
  • An original title can make your nomination stand out among the others;
  • Embed relevant photos or quotations directly within the text to support the nomination;
  • Ensure that your text is double-spaced; and
  • Include the name of your nominee on the first page of the nomination text (Last name, First name).
  • Don't forget your page numbers!

Selection Criteria:

Introduction

(Maximum 350 words)

An effective introduction should be compelling and arouse the interest of the reader.

Support of child development

(Maximum 1,000 words)

Describe and provide concrete examples of how the educator provides daily experiences that support and promote each child's physical, emotional, social, cognitive, ethical and creative development.

Nomination writing tips

You may choose to explain how the educator:

  • optimizes each child's unique development;
  • encourages children interest and participation;
  • provides stimulating and engaging learning environments for all children;
  • develops and maintains warm, caring and responsive relationships with each child and with the group of children;
  • uses observation to assess children's skills, abilities, interests and needs; and,
  • uses developmentally appropriate best practices.
Innovation

(Maximum 1,000 words)

Describe and provide concrete examples of the educator's use of innovative and creative approaches to encourage and support each child's unique development.

Nomination writing tips

You may choose to explain how the educator:

  • captures and maintain children's interest;
  • explores new or different ideas with children;
  • recognizes and adapts to children's special needs (including physical, emotional, social, cognitive and creative needs);
  • recognizes and includes diverse economic, cultural, linguistic and regional perspectives in the learning environment;
  • respects and promotes children's home language and cultural heritage;
  • incorporates events and activities occurring in children's lives in the learning environment; and,
  • incorporates international, national, local and community events and activities in the learning environment.
Involvement with parents, families and the community

(Maximum 1,000 words)

Describe and provide concrete examples of the educator's efforts to involve and engage parents, families and the community in children's education and care.

Nomination writing tips

You may choose to explain how the educator:

  • develops and maintains open, cooperative relationships with each child's family;
  • encourages active parent, family and community involvement in children's learning;
  • develops and uses innovative approaches to engaging and supporting parents and families;
  • fosters community contacts or partnerships that encourage or complement children's learning and activities; and,
  • develops and maintains relationships with others in the early childhood education setting, such as colleagues or with other community services and organizations involved with the children.
Commitment and leadership in the field

(Maximum 1,000 words)

Describe and provide concrete examples of the educator's ongoing professional development, leadership and commitment to improving the early childhood education and care field and to enhancing the ability of others in the profession.

Nomination writing tips

You may choose to explain how the educator:

  • organizes or delivers professional development courses, workshops or other development activities;
  • develops and disseminates learning materials, resources and best practices;
  • provides support or training to other professionals in the field (such as mentoring and training of students);
  • fosters or contributes to the development of a team environment within their own early childhood education setting; and,
  • is actively involved in a professional organization, network or association related to early childhood education and care.
Conclusion

(Maximum 350 words)

An effective conclusion should summarize your nominee's overall achievements. Consider it as a final opportunity to convince the reader that your nominee deserves Canada's highest honour. The nominator should include their name after the conclusion.

3. Letters of Support

Three letters must be provided with each nomination, and must be dated and signed by the author. The letters should demonstrate a nominee's positive impact on young children and provide evidence of the nominee's excellence and achievements under any or all of the four  selection criteria.

A team nomination requires three letters of support for the nomination, not each member of the team. Letters of support should endorse the accomplishments of all team members.

Letters of support must meet the following requirements:

  • Letters must be written by individuals with direct knowledge for the nominee's accomplishments, for example:
    • Parents of children
    • Peers
    • Representatives from professional associations
    • Community leaders;
  • Letters of support cannot be written by the nominator;
  • One letter must come from the centre's director/supervisor unless the centre’s director/supervisor is the nominator. If the centre’s director/supervisor is the nominator, three letters of support can be written by individuals with direct knowledge of the nominee’s accomplishments;
  • If the nominee is the owner/operator of the child care centre and a guarantor is provided on the nomination form, the three letters can be written by individuals with direct knowledge of the nominee’s accomplishments;
  • Each letter must be dated, signed and issued no earlier than six months prior to the nomination deadline;
  • Each letter must include contact information for the author (email and/or telephone);
  • If more than three letters are received, only three will be selected for evaluation; and
  • Letters cannot come from a nominee's immediate family member.

Download the letters of support template (PDF, 88 KB) for formatting guidelines and suggestions.

4. ECE Certification

A copy of the nominee's official certificate from a provincial or territorial body, training certification, degree or diploma showing completion must be provided.

For a team nomination a copy of each nominee's official certification from a provincial or territorial body, training certification, degree or diploma showing completion must be provided.

5. Settings Operating License

Provide a copy of the setting's operating license (except for nominees who work in Aboriginal Head Start sites on and off reserve). For nominees working in a school-based setting, an employer letter confirming the type of school-based early learning program is required.

6. Statement of Employment

A statement of employment from the employer confirming direct education and care to young children at least 15 hours per week for a minimum of three years in a licensed Canadian ECE setting is required.

If the nominee is the owner/operator of an early childhood centre the employment letter confirming direct education and care to young children at least 15 hours per week for a minimum of three years in a licensed Canadian ECE setting may be signed by a colleague or the guarantor who is able to attest to the number of hours the educator has worked for the last 3 years.

Separate employment statements are required in cases where the educator has worked in different ECE settings over the three-year period.

For a team nomination, a statement of employment for each nominee is required.

Download the statement of employment template (DOCX, 25 KB) for formatting guidelines and suggestions.

Submitting Nominations

Completed nomination packages can be sent on-line, by email or by regular mail:

Submitting on-line

Before submitting your nomination on-line, please ensure to:

  • Download the nomination form and save it to your computer
  • Complete all required sections of the nomination form
  • Print the nomination form for the nominee and nominator to sign and date
  • Ensure you have included all required attachments by selecting the Add Attachments feature
  • Click the Submit button at the bottom on the nomination form

After submitting the nomination, you will receive a confirmation email.

Submitting by email

Email submissions must be sent to primeministersawards-prixdupremierministre@ised-isde.gc.ca by the deadline date in one of the following file formats: .pdf, .doc, .docx, .rtf, .txt, .jpg, .jpeg, .tiff, .tif, .xps.

The total file size cannot exceed 20MB.

After submitting the nomination, you will receive a confirmation email.

Submitting by mail

If you chose to submit a nomination by mail, make sure your package is postmarked by the deadline date and sent to the following address:

Prime Minister's Awards
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
C.D. Howe Building 
235 Queen Street 
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5

Regardless of how you submit your nomination you will receive an email confirmation that your nomination was received. If you do not receive confirmation within 48 hours please contact us by telephone at 1-800-328-6189 or by email at primeministersawards-prixdupremierministre@ised-isde.gc.ca.

Selection Process

Prime Minister's Award (PMA) recipients are selected via a rigorous process that involves volunteers from major early childhood education stakeholders across Canada, including post-secondary institutions and early childhood education associations.

The program has recruited over 30 volunteer representatives from various early childhood education stakeholders, including provincial and territorial officials. This large number is required as each nomination package is reviewed by up to four regional evaluators. After an initial screening for basic eligibility, copies of the nomination text and letters of support are sent to our regional evaluators for review. The regional evaluators look for clear evidence that nominees have excelled in all of the following four areas:

  1. Support of child development;
  2. Innovation;
  3. Involvement with parents, families and the community; and,
  4. Commitment and leadership in the field.

Nomination packages are evaluated and ranked based on how well each nominee meets the selection criteria for the awards.

A final list of the top-ranked candidates is recommended to the Minister who informs the Prime Minister. Up to 15 awards (5 Excellence, 10 Achievement) are offered for the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education.

Based on the number of nominations received and provided standards of excellence are met, the PMA aims have an annual cohort of recipients that reflect the diversity of the country with appropriate geographic, Indigenous, visible minority, and gender and representation.

Regional evaluators are all volunteers who give their valuable time and expertise at no cost to the program. The PMA program could not function without the generous support of our volunteer evaluators.

Contact Us

Please contact the PMA program office by:

Phone ISED Citizen Services Centre:
Telephone (toll-free in Canada): 1-800-328-6189
Telephone (Ottawa): 613-954-5031
TTY (for hearing-impaired): 1-866-694-8389
Business hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Email: primeministersawards-prixdupremierministre@ised-isde.gc.ca

Mail:
Prime Minister's Awards
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5

Acknowledgments

As partners in the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education, Employment and Social Development Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada,  gratefully acknowledge the volunteer contributions of numerous education organizations across Canada who take part in the award selection process. The program could not function without the participation of these volunteers.