In 2017, the Alberta and the federal government signed an agreement for federal investments to support early learning and child care in Alberta. The Government of Alberta has renegotiated the terms of the agreement to change how these investments are distributed. This includes changes to:
- the child care subsidy formula
- Early Learning and Child Care Centres
- supports for quality in child care
For more information, see the news release:
- Affordable and accessible child care for more families (July 23, 2020)
Why the agreement is changing
Funding under the previous bilateral was used for approximately 7% of all children accessing licensed or approved child care in the province (or 2% of all children age from 0 to 6 in the province) through the $25-a-day ELCC Centre pilot. Now, 26% of all children accessing licensed or approved child care in the province will benefit from the new subsidy increase (or 7% of all children age from 0 to 6 in the province).
This is a more equitable distribution of taxpayer dollars as it directs support to lower-income families and children and benefits more Albertans.
Child care subsidy
Changes to the child care subsidy will come into effect August 1, 2020. The new subsidy model is simpler and easier to understand.
Families of over 28,000 children supported by the child care subsidy will see an increase to their subsidy rate, with about 24,500 seeing an 18% increase to their subsidy rate. This means:
- a fully subsidized infant will be supported by $741/month (previously $628/month)
- a fully subsidized toddler will be supported by $644/month (previously $546/month)
- a fully subsidized school-age child will be supported by $366/month (previously $310/month)
Under the previous bilateral agreement, $45 million in federal funding benefitted families of only about 7,500 children through the $25-a-day pilot. Under the new bilateral agreement, lower-income families of about 16,000 children will pay $25-a-day or less in child care fees.
Parents can access more information on the new rates and how to apply on the child care subsidy website.
Families with an annual income of less than $75,000 will be eligible for full or partial subsidy.
All families currently receiving subsidy that have an income of $75,000 or higher will continue to receive subsidy up until their subsidy period ends.
The new subsidy model represents an 18% increase to the current maximum subsidy rates.
Table 1. Maximum subsidy rates
While each family’s exact income and tax situation are different, for illustrative purposes, a family with a single parent with an income of $61,000 per year, with one toddler attending day care full time, will be eligible for $483 per month in subsidy.
Early Learning and Child Care Centres
Funding for the 22 provincially funded pilot centres will conclude on July 31, 2020, which provided a 4-month extension for programs to have sufficient time to transition. Funding for the 100 federally funded pilot centres launched in 2018 (those funded under the original bilateral agreement) will conclude on March 31, 2021.
Child care quality
- The Flight curriculum framework will allow child care providers to incorporate high quality early childhood education into their daily routines, through the online course and coaching supports offered.
- Online course and coaching support will be made available to all child care centres across the province, ensuring high quality child care options for parents no matter where they live.
- The new Inclusive Child Care Program will give child care providers access to consultation, coaching, professional development and funding for additional staff to increase their capacity to include children who have extra support needs.
- Funding will also be directed to create more child care spaces in high demand areas, to address smaller communities with few spaces or explore needs like after-hours child care.
Portions of the $45 million will be used to expand access to the Flight curriculum framework and its related courses, coaching and supports. Previously, only pilot ELCC Centres had access. Now, all licensed and approved programs will have access to these resources which guide and support the important work of early childhood educators. This will make it easier to incorporate high quality early childhood education into the educators’ daily routines through the online course and coaching supports offered. Flight will also be made available to Out-of-School Care programs.
Inclusive Child Care Program
The new Inclusive Child Care Program (ICC) will provide licensed child care programs with access to provincially-aligned training, resources and supports that enable the inclusion of children with extra support needs. This will mean consistent resources and supports are available to all licensed child care providers and all Alberta families. Previously, the Supported Child Care Program was managed regionally which created inconsistencies from region to region.