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French-language content for this topic on is currently being developed. Information will remain available on the Alberta Education website until this is complete.

La page correspondante en français est en cours de préparation sur le site Web Pendant cette période de transition, l'information qu'elle contient demeure disponible sur le site Web du ministère de l'Éducation.


Early Childhood Services (ECS) refers to educational programming for children before they enter Grade 1.

ECS includes both Pre-Kindergarten programming dedicated to children who require additional supports and Kindergarten.

Alberta is the only province in Canada that funds education supports for children as young as 2 years 8 months.


Pre-Kindergarten is for children who require additional supports to prepare them for Kindergarten and Grade 1. Children eligible include those:

  • learning English as a second language
  • requiring Francophone programming
  • gifted and talented
  • diagnosed with a mild, moderate, severe disability, or a language delay that is moderate or severe

Children with a severe disability or a language delay that is moderate or severe may start pre-Kindergarten at age 2 years 8 months. All other children may begin at age 3 years 8 months.

Contact your local school board or independent ECS operator for more information about available programming and registering your child.


Kindergarten is the year prior to entry into Grade 1. Children must be at least 5 years old as of December 31 of the year they have started Kindergarten.

Contact your local school board or independent ECS operator for more information about available programming and enrolling your child.

ECS supports for 2021/22

Alberta’s government is directing an additional $40 million to improve and expand learning assistance to more young children with disabilities and language delays. The additional support for program unit funding and specialized learning support grants include:

  • adding a new funded category (code) to support children with moderate language delays
  • increased hours for parent and child engagement sessions eligible towards funding
  • a restructured and dedicated kindergarten funding envelope to provide equitable funding to school boards
  • clearer guidance to school authorities to assist in appropriately identifying children for funding purposes
  • in-year program unit funding adjustment for smaller-sized ECS operators
  • extending registration deadline for the 2021/22 school year for all eligible children with severe disabilities or a language delay that is moderate or severe

More information about the updates is available in 2021/22 Funding Manual and the Special Education Coding Criteria or Critères relatifs aux codes en adaptation scolaire.

For further information on supports, please see Early Childhood Services Handbook for the Identification and Review of Children with Severe Disabilities or Manuel de l’identification et de l’évaluation des enfants ayant des incapacités graves dans les programmes de services au préscolaire.

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