The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta (AECEA) is troubled by the impending impact on children, families and early childhood educators with the province’s decision to cancel the Accreditation of Early Learning and Care Services. With no oversight specific to quality standards, it is even more critical that early childhood educators have at least a diploma level qualification to enable them to provide high quality programs. While the province’s move to maintain wage enhancements helps to stabilize the workforce, it does little to ensure quality provision, unless they also address the issue of workforce preparation. Close to half the workforce has only a 54-hour online course in order to practice and we need to help them advance their education.
High quality early learning and child care is more than keeping Alberta’s young children “safe”, it ensures positive interactions between the educator and children, sets aside planning and reflection time, and supports the child in all developmental areas, including, social, emotional, language and cognitive development, communication skills and general knowledge, physical health and well-being. A high quality system of early learning and care considers the educational qualifications of the workforce, the use of evidence-based curricula (e.g. FLIGHT), responsive environments, and supportive working conditions. Adequate government funding is necessary for the building of system infrastructure, planning and delivery, including operational and workforce supports so child care fees are not a burden on families.
AECEA strongly encourages the Minister to engage AECEA and other key stakeholders in a comprehensive review and planning process that ensures quality standards are embedded in Alberta’s Child Care Act and Regulations and that quality supports and a workforce strategy are planned for and funded through Alberta’s system.
AECEA’s position paper Getting It Right, also outlines regulation and policy changes that support the provision of high quality early learning and care.