Formerly known as the Alberta Child Care Association, the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta (AECEA) grew out of an organization known as ‘the Network.’ The Network came together in the early 1990’s to advocate against the cut of an “operating allowance” for the early learning and child care sector. Network members began meeting with government representatives and, unfortunately, were unsuccessful in their bid to stop the impending funding cut. Without this operating allowance, child care spiraled into a crisis situation, where it was nearly impossible to find qualified staff who would work for the minimal wages that programs could afford.
Another group of child care champions, who were interested in promoting accreditation as a means by which the government could authentically invest in quality child care, also came together at this time. In 2004, the group obtained non-profit status as the Alberta Child Care Network Association (ACCNA).
Government contracted with a consultant to look at the child care crisis and make recommendations to address the issues. One of the recommendations was to develop an accreditation system. The Network, having already undertaken some research in this area, submitted a funding proposal to the Province of Alberta to develop an accreditation program and supports for child care programs to achieve accreditation. The Network contracted services and received supports from organizations including the Canadian Child Care Federation (CCCF).
Out of the contract grew the Accreditation of Early Learning and Care Services (AELCS), the current accreditation program which assesses child care, family day homes, and out of school care to achieve accreditation status. Understanding that programs might require support in order to improve quality to enable them to achieve accreditation status, the Network applied for government funding to develop the Alberta Resource Centre for Quality Enhancement (ARCQE).
Through further strategic planning efforts, the Network continued to think through a provincial structure that would support the education and professional needs of the frontline child care staff across the province. It moved from a network of organizations to the Alberta Child Care Association (ACCA), created to speak with one voice about child care issues and solutions, as opposed to many voices scattered across the province. The Association is reliant on revenue generated from individual memberships, enabling the association to continue to write grant proposals, meet with all levels of government and advocate for high quality early learning and care in the province.
The Association continues to apply for grants (2012-2020) to the Government of Alberta - Ministry of Children's Services (formerly Human Services) to support Child Development Supervisors to participate in professional development (PD) activities. The most current grant began in April 2015 and ends in March 2018. The grant allows the AECEA to disburse $150,000.00 per year, allocated to three different funding streams – workshops/conferences, post-secondary courses, and professional learning communities. In early 2017, the AECEA negotiated an increase of the grant for the final year (2017-2018) to include an additional $67,500.00 of funding.
The Association continued to apply for this PD funding in support of Child Development Supervisors in Alberta, while planning a Professional Learning Framework, laying out a ten year plan to advance the workforce in Alberta. Its current advocacy efforts are focused on a broad professional learning framework for the whole ELCC workforce in Alberta, that includes consideration of moving towards new educational standards, wages that align with education and responsibilities and building a competent system of support for the ELCC workforce.
In late 2016, the Alberta Child Care Association changed its name to the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta (AECEA) to better represent its focus — supporting early childhood educators. AECEA continues to have discussions with the Ministry of Children's Services and other Ministries to rethink a system of early learning and child care across the province.