Accreditation promotes excellence in child care settings in Alberta and helps families choose the best care for their children. It is based on standards of excellence that reflect current research and leading practices to provide high quality child care over and above licensing regulations for children from birth to 12 years of age.
Alberta Child Care Accreditation is available to:
- licensed day care centres
- licensed out-of-school care programs
- approved family day home agencies
Enrolling is a voluntary process, but recommended.
Accreditation process is administered by the Association for Accreditation of Early Learning and Care Services (AELCS).
- have committed to meet the accreditation standards at all times
- continue to work on quality improvement in accordance with the strategies set in their Quality Enhancement Plan
- undergo annual reviews through submission of evidence to the accreditation agency
- are subject to unannounced status verification visits
Accreditation standards were developed by the Alberta government in consultation with the child care field. The standards focus on outcomes for children, families, staff and community to support children’s optimal early learning and development.
For more information, read the standards:
- Alberta Child Care Accreditation standards (English)
- Alberta Child Care Accreditation standards (French)
The Alberta Child Care Accreditation Evaluation and Scoring Framework sets out the evaluation process and tools that are used by the accrediting agency during on-site assessments and to determine a program’s accreditation status as result of this assessment.
How to become accredited
Step 1. Apply for accreditation
Apply to AELCS and you will get access to accreditation tools and other related materials.
Step 2. Self-evaluation and quality enhancement
You must do a self-evaluation of your child care program. During this process, you will:
- assess your child care program’s service quality
- develop a quality enhancement plan
- set short-term, intermediate and long-term goals and timelines
- collect evidence to demonstrate during an on-site assessment (site visit) how the accreditation standards are being met
This step usually takes about 15 months to complete.
Step 3. Site visit
When the self-evaluation process is complete, you must request an on-site assessment (site visit). The accrediting agency or AELCS will conduct an on-site assessment to:
- collect evidence
- interview staff
- complete observations
With the data collected, the accrediting agency will determine if your program has met the accreditation standards.
If successful, your program will be issued an accreditation certificate that is valid for up to 3 years.
After becoming accredited
Accredited programs must have a re-accreditation site visit every 3 years and must submit an annual report to the accrediting agency explaining how the program has implemented its quality enhancement plan.
Accreditation coaching support
Support may be available at no cost to your program if you are preparing for your initial accreditation site visit or re-accreditation process.
The Alberta Resource Centre for Quality Enhancement (ARCQE) is a contracted agency that:
- helps programs achieve best practices in early learning and care
- helps child care programs during the accreditation evaluation process
To help child care programs provide higher quality services and meet accreditation standards, ARCQE offers resources such as:
- in-service training opportunities
- policy templates
- resource materials
- information on child development and best practices
For more details, contact ARCQE.
Programs enrolled in accreditation can apply for funding to support the recruitment and retention of qualified staff. This funding includes:
- staff wage top-ups (up to $6.62/hour)
- professional development grants (up to $1,000 per staff member, annually)
- staff attraction recruitment and retention initiatives (up to $5,000)
For more information, see the Accreditation funding for child care programs page.
Connect with the Association for Accreditation of Early Learning and Care Services (AELCS) for questions about child care accreditation and processes.