Federal-Provincial Child Care Agreement - What We Know So Far | Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta

Federal-Provincial Child Care Agreement - What We Know So Far

On November 15, 2021, Albertans received great news. The Government of Alberta and the federal government announced the signing of a child care agreement that will provide $3.8 billion in funding over the next five years to reduce child care fees for parents to an average of $10/day, improve access and increase quality in early learning and child care (ELCC). The Minister of Children's Services, Rebecca Schulz, held a virtual town hall for program operators to answer questions on the agreement and give some information on how this will look. Please see below for the points that were clarified or where further information will be shared in the coming weeks. 

The following types of programs will qualify for funding under this agreement:

  • All currently licensed facility-based programs (both for-profit and non-profit) that offer child care to children aged 0-6, including licensed child care and preschools
  • All programs in the process of being licensed to offer child care to children 0-6 (both for-profit and non-profit), including licensed child care and preschools
  • Licensed family day home programs offering child care to children aged 0-6 - for clarity, these are family day home programs that are monitored by a licensed family day home agency
  • Licensed Group Family Child Care programs

The following types of programs will not qualify for funding through this new agreement:

  • Out-of-school care programs
  • Unlicensed day home programs

Definitions

  • Private for-profit child care program: program offering care to children aged 0-5 that is owned and governed by an individual or private entity. 
  • Private non-profit child care program: program offering care to children aged 0-5 that is governed by a board of directors or community group that is registered as a society.
  • Public non-profit child care program: program offering child care to children aged 0-5 that is governed by a local level of government, which might include municipalities, schools or Indigenous governments.
  • Licensed family day home program: a home-based program that is overseen by a licensed family day home agency
  • Licensed family day home agency: employ consultants to work closely with both family day home providers and parents to support the safety and well-being of children in their providers’ care
  • Group family child care program: this license type is no longer available for new programs, programs offer care in a private residence. There are typically between seven and 10 children with two caregivers
  • Unlicensed day home program: day home program that is not a part of the licensed sector and is not overseen by a licensed family day home agency
  • Preschool: program offering child care to children aged 2-5 for four hours or less a day. Can be any of private for-profit, private non-profit, or public
  • Out-of-school care program: operate before and after school, during lunch hours and sometimes when schools are closed. Can be any of private for-profit, private non-profit, or public

For clarity, in the following points any time you see:

  • for-profit child care it is referring to private for-profit child care programs
  • non-profit child care it is referring to private non-profit and public child care programs

Please note, the below points are a summary of the Children's Services town hall on November 15, 2021. Stay tuned for further information from the Government of Alberta. If you would like to send feedback to the Government of Alberta on any of the points below, please contact Children's Services at CS.ChildCare@gov.ab.ca.

  • All currently licensed dayhomes, preschools, and facility-based programs or those already in the process of being licensed (non-profit and for-profit) will be included
  • For new spaces, the federal government does want to focus on non-profit child care space creation. Over the next five years, the Government of Alberta has committed to creating a minimum of 42,500 new spaces in non-profit and day home space. This doesn't include the for-profit spaces that they will be looking to create.
  • Non-profit child care expansion over the next year will look much like previous space creation initiatives, with an expression of interest. Will be targeting child care deserts, infant care spaces and supporting diverse needs, whether that be cultural or linguistic or inclusive childcare programs.
  • To achieve a $10/day system that also works for for-profit child care programs, the provincial and federal governments will create an implementation committee made up of officials from both the province and the federal government, which will then be tasked with consulting with stakeholders, partners, and private operators to create a for-profit expansion plan. Once this plan is approved and finalized, the provincial government will start creating spaces in private programs and that will take that will be in place by the end of the next calendar year.
  • Existing for-profit child care programs will be allowed to create up to 1,000 new spaces in the first year.
  • The goal is to create 12,000 child care spaces (mainly non-profit child care) in the next year.
  • For child care deserts (mainly rural Alberta), the government will work with municipalities to increase the number of available spaces.
  • The government maintained the mixed-market system and subsidy program to ensure continuity of the structure long-term (passed the end of 2026); the federal government has committed to this being a long-term commitment. There is also flexibility on how each of the “pillars” are funded and will be looked at each year. The current action plan is just for the first 2-years and may be adjusted as necessary.
  • Parents can expect fees, on average, to be cut in half starting in the new year.
  • 2 ways to do this:
    1. Childcare Grant Program will provide a per licensed, enrolled space amount that will go directly to programs to reduce fees charged to parents.
      • To receive this funding, programs will need to commit to working with the Alberta government to make sure that fees for Alberta families reach an average of $10/day by the end of five years.
      • Spaces identified as infant spaces will receive the highest grant amounts.
      • There will be an additional grant for programs operating flexible and overnight care.
      • Programs that support childcare for pregnant and parenting teens, often still in high school, are included in this as well, childcare fees for these parents are completely covered.
      • It will be based on enrollment – exact amounts coming soon
    2. Expansion of subsidy program
      • Will be paid to programs on behalf of eligible families.
      • Will raise the annual income threshold from the current maximum ($90,000/year) to $180,000/year starting in January.
  • In the first two years:
    • Families earning up to $120,000/year will qualify for funding (grant to operators & subsidy) that will reduce their fees to an average of $10/day.
    • Families earning $120,000-$180,000/year will qualify for funding (grant to operators & subsidy) that will reduce their fees to an average of $11-$17/day.
    • Families earning over $180,000/year will qualify for funding (grant to operators & subsidy) that will reduce their fees to an average of $22/day.
  • This is based on the average fees that parents are currently charged.
  • By 2026, the government will work to drop the fees to an average of $10/day.
  • Existing fees charged by programs can remain and increases to fees will be restricted to an increase of 3%/year.
  • More information to come in the next few weeks, including the specific amount per space grant dollars, and more details on what the subsidy dollars and space creation will look like.
  • The agreement includes $300 million to support ECEs.
  • The focus will be on recruitment, retention, development & training for ECEs.
  • The Government of Alberta will enhance access to professional and skill development for early childhood educators as well as childcare program resources by funding training in several areas that support quality (e.g., brain story certification, early childhood development, screening, mental health first aid, infant mental health, nutrition, physical literacy).
  • Current wage top-ups will be maintained at this point; however, the Government of Alberta is open to discussion around increasing these amounts.
  • Wage top-up eligible hours will be expanded to include additional administration and planning time
  • Certification levels (possible addition of a Level 4) will be explored and the government welcomes feedback on this.
  • For-profit child care programs will not be expected to become non-profit child care programs.
  • All currently operating for-profit child care programs will qualify for the funding.
  • The agreement will allow parents to choose specialized care for children with disabilities or unique cultural and learning needs.
  • The Government of Alberta will expand the inclusive child care program to include up to 2,000 children and 800 programs – this is a growth of approximately 45% for children and 25% for programs.
  • The Government of Alberta will continue to invest in a culturally responsive workforce by enhancing cultural resources for staff and programs to better support underserved populations.
  • $200,000 (total) will be available for the remainder of this fiscal year (ending March 31, 2022), and $21 million total over the following years to 2026.
  • Programs can apply for this by calling the inclusive child care program in their community directly to request assistance. In collaboration with the child care program, the inclusive child care program will gather information and complete a screening to help identify what types of supports are needed in that specific program. The inclusive childcare programs support provided include things like on-site consultation from trained experts and inclusion strategies and environmental modifications to the actual facility, training on how the educators can implement the evidence-based pyramid model, individualized in-person instruction to programs needing more support to offer an inclusive program, and funding to help add additional staff to enhance the staff-child ratio. It is somewhat flexible and does somewhat depend on the needs of the children and educators in the program.
  • The Government of Alberta has committed to collaboration with the Francophone Secretariat to engage with the French language community to better understand childcare needs, identify opportunities, and encourage space creation for the Francophone community.
  • More information to come. 
  • The only way the Government of Alberta can reach the space creation targets is by bringing more FDH into the licensed and regulated system and the Government of Alberta is looking at how to incentivize this
  • The Government of Alberta will be working with dayhome agencies and if providers or agencies have any feedback/ideas they should reach out to Children’s Services 
  • The Government of Alberta knows the contract for providers will need to be reviewed and that agencies will need to be funded to expand
  • The Government of Alberta is currently looking at ways that providers and agencies can be supported and feedback is welcome
  • At this time, OSC will not be covered under this new federal-provincial agreement. However, The Government of Alberta is aware that this is an area that needs to be further supported. 
  • Subsidy for families using OSC will remain available for those families earning up to $90,000/year.
  • Additional consultation will be done over the next year by the Government of Alberta to see how this will look for space creation in both non-profit and for-profit programs
  • How this will look for part-day programs will be coming out soon
  • Feedback is welcome