Table of contents

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.


The first 6 years of a child's life are important to their development and future education. Children who are cared for and have positive experiences during the early years are more likely to develop and learn in ways that help them meet their full potential.

Lifelong learning begins the moment we are born. The first 6 years of our lives are a time of unparalleled discovery. We learn about ourselves and the world around us. Our personalities take shape and we begin to lay the foundation of knowledge that will support us as we enter the education system.

Alberta government support

Services, supports and programs for young children and their families are primarily provided by 4 areas of the Alberta Government:

Alberta Education is responsible for Early Childhood Services (ECS). ECS are educational programs for children under the age of 6 and includes Kindergarten, the year before Grade One and educational programming for children as young as 2 years 8 months.

Alberta Community and Social Services provides Family Support for Children with Disabilities, while Alberta Children’s Services is responsible for Parent Link Centres, Child Care and Licensed Preschool. These supports are provided in partnership with communities through programs offered by Family and Community Support Services.

Alberta Health provides primary and preventative health care from the prenatal stage, through the early years and into adolescence and adulthood.

The 4 ministries work together to plan for and deliver the many early childhood programs, supports and services needed to support young children and their families.


Early childhood development information

Information for parents

Information for schools

Early childhood services

Early childhood education

The Education Act states that a board or, with the approval of the Minister, another person may provide an early childhood services program to a child who, as of September 1, is younger than 6 years of age, if the parent of the child requests it. A board may provide an early childhood services program to a student who, as of September 1, is younger than 7 years of age if the parent of the student and the board are of the opinion that the program will benefit the student.


Kindergarten not only helps prepare children for entry into Grade One, but also provides a foundation for later success. Kindergarten provides learning experiences that meet the diverse needs of children and promote a positive attitude toward lifelong learning. A child whose developmental needs have been met is more likely to grow into a self-reliant, responsible, caring and contributing member of society.

Local school authorities may offer full-day Kindergarten, or programs for children younger than Kindergarten age. Schools may charge a fee for ECS programs.

Supporting children with disabilities

Program Unit Funding, in addition to Base Instruction Funding, is available to approved ECS operators and school authorities for young children who are 2 years 8 months and less than 6 years of age by September 1, and who have been identified with a severe disability/delay. Children are eligible for up to 3 years of ECS funded programming, depending on age, severity of the disability/delay and its impact on the child's ability to function within an ECS program. The Standards for the Provision of Early Childhood Special Education apply to children who meet the eligibility criteria for special education programming.

ECS fact sheets

Other resources