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We have successfully negotiated an agreement with the federal government to increase accessible, affordable and high-quality child care, giving families the choice they need. Starting in January 2022, this made-in-Alberta plan has helped to reduce fees for parents of children 0 to kindergarten age by an average of half. By 2026, parents will pay an average of $10 per day.
We are helping Alberta families save money in 2 ways:
- Providing affordability grants for child care operators to lower fees for all parents
- Expanding child care subsidy eligibility to save parents earning up to $180,000 even more
This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Canada-Alberta Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.
- Space Creation Grant - Applications for grant funding for non-profit groups interested in creating new child care spaces or starting new child care programs are now open.
- Child care subsidy - Applications for subsidy for families of children 0 to kindergarten age earning up to $180,000 are now open. Parents already receiving subsidy do not need to reapply.
Key features of the plan
Investing in child care
Through the agreement, $3.8 billion will be invested in child care for children 0 to kindergarten age (in kindergarten and also attending child care during regular school hours):
- $2.865 billion to lower child care fees for Alberta parents
- $240.64 million to increase the number of child care spaces
- $202.6 million to develop and fund child care options to support vulnerable and diverse populations, as well as children with extra needs
- $306.16 million to support licensed programs and certified educators in offering high-quality support for families in their communities
If you are a parent of a child 0 to kindergarten age (in kindergarten and also attending child care during regular school hours), you will be paying less for licensed child care by January 2022.
Over the next 5 years of the agreement, we will:
- reduce licensed child care fees by an average of 50% for families with children 0 to kindergarten age (in kindergarten and also attending child care during regular school hours) (early 2022)
- lower average licensed child care fees to $10 per day for families with children 0 to kindergarten age (in kindergarten and also attending child care during regular school hours) (by 2025 to 2026)
- increase support for parents, child care operators and staff
Expanding child care accessibility
To ensure families can choose the child care that works best for them, we will:
- add at least 42,500 new licensed child care spaces over the next 5 years
- support licensed child care – preschools, daycare and family day homes under a licensed agency
- ensure flexibility for families requiring drop-in or overnight child care
- support children with specific learning, linguistic, cultural and other needs
Supporting high-quality child care
Quality care starts with quality educators. The agreement provides funds for:
- professional development, training and improved certification levels for our early childhood educator workforce
- continued wage top-ups for child care educators – among the highest in Canada
What this means for parents
We will give grants to child care providers that will lower fees for all parents. And families who make less than $180,000 will be eligible for an additional subsidy to further reduce their child care costs.
Parents will see reduced fees starting in early 2022, and can expect to pay an average of:
- $10 per day if they earn up to $119,999
- $11 to $17 per day if they earn between $120,000 and $179,999
- $22.19 per day if they earn $180,000 and above
For example: A family earning $120,000 with an infant attending a licensed facility-based centre full-time currently pays on average $1,172 per month. By early 2022, this family can expect to pay an average of $284 per month.
The amount that you will save will vary depending on the fees your child care provider charges. However, grant-receiving providers must commit to helping Alberta ensure families reach an average of $10 per day by the end of 5 years.
- Affordability grants go directly to licensed operators and must be used to reduce parent fees.
- Operators can use these grants to pay overhead costs and educator wages.
- These grants are not to be used for capital improvements or dividends to investors.
- Grant recipients must commit to working with the government to ensure fees for all families reach an average of $10 per day by the end of 5 years (2025-26).
- Licensed child care programs such as preschools, daycares and family day homes under licensed agencies that provide care to infants, toddlers and kindergarten age children (in kindergarten and also attending child care during regular school hours).
- Operators are eligible for affordability supports for full-time (100+ hours per month) and part-time care spaces (between 50 and 100 hours per month).
How grants are calculated
- The affordability grant amount was calculated using average program fees across the province, per space per month, based on the type of child care and the age group.
- Alberta determined the average child care fee for a licensed space across the province and calculated the necessary affordability grant required to reduce fees by an average of 50% for 2022.
- Infant spaces (under 19 months) receive the highest grant rates given the low staff to child ratio and additional costs of operating spaces for this age group.
- Learn more: Affordability rates chart (December 2021)
- Affordability grants go directly to licensed operators and must be used to reduce parent fees.
Infant care and part-time care
- On top of the affordability grant, operators will also receive infant care funding as a stand-alone grant of $150 per enrolled infant space per month.
- Operators can use these funds flexibly to support infant care in their programs. The funding doesn’t need to flow through to parents.
- Operators are eligible for affordability supports for part-time care spaces (between 50 and 100 hours per month).
- Existing private operators are eligible to participate in this agreement.
- The agreement will also support new spaces in private programs once a control framework and plan for additional private expansion have been developed.
- Programs do not have to switch to a non-profit model to be part of the agreement.
- Participation is not mandatory. Programs that choose not to participate will be unable to access parent subsidies, affordability grants or staff wage top-ups.
Creating new child care spaces
Grant funding for new non-profit spaces
- Applications for grant funding for non-profit groups interested in creating new child care spaces or starting new child care programs are now open. New and existing non-profit, facility-based child care programs can apply.
- Our current focus is on building capacity in licensed non-profit and home-based child care.
- 42,500 total new non-profit licensed spaces will be created over the next 5 years.
New licensed family day home spaces
- We are looking to introduce funding categories for family day home space creation later this year.
New private spaces
- In negotiating with the federal government, we fought for a plan that reflects our unique mixed-market child care system and includes private child care programs. The federal government agreed to include all existing private programs, but limited the number of new private spaces that could access funding under this agreement (maximum of 2,700 spaces).
- The allocation for 2,700 new private spaces this year is full. More private spaces will open in 2023.
- We are working with the federal government to create an expansion plan for future growth in the private child care sector and expect that new private operators will be able to participate under the agreement beginning early in 2023. More information about space creation for private operators will be shared in the fall of 2022.
Become a family day home educator with a licensed agency
Family day home educators who operate under an agreement with a licensed agency have access to training, resources and assistance. To find out how you can become a licensed family day home educator:
Workforce training and development
Training and development
This agreement includes more than $300 million to bolster professional development and training for certified early childhood educators.
- This includes paid wages for education and training, and/or pay to offset the costs to operators and increase staff’s ability to access training and professional development.
- Funding will also be used to increase certification levels for early childhood educators.
Through a separate funding agreement with the federal government, we are already directing about $56 million to support quality within licensed child care programs and help operators recruit, retrain and retain high quality staff. This includes:
- $20.57 million for child care staff recovery and retention (provided in fall 2021)
- $25.7 million for skills training and professional development (for implementation in spring 2022)
- $4.13 million to support wage top-ups for preschool educators (implemented September 1, 2021)
To make it easier for Albertans to start a career in child care, we've increased enrolment capacity for the free level 1 child-care orientation from 4,000 to 10,000 spaces. The course is now available to all Albertans.
Alberta provides wage top-ups to certified early childhood educators to help programs recruit and retain the best educators. Approximately 18,500 early childhood educators receive wage top-ups.
As of October 1, 2022, we've expanded the paid hours that are eligible for existing wage top-ups for front-line certified early childhood educators to include indirect time and employer-paid vacation time.
Wage top-ups vary by early childhood educators' certification level:
- Level 3: $6.62 per hour on top of their employer paid wage
- Level 2: $4.05 per hour on top of their employer paid wage
- Level 1: $2.14 per hour on top of their employer paid wage
The agreement includes a commitment to explore the possibility of increases to our wage top-up program and other benefit considerations over the course of the agreement.
Next steps and additional information
We will seek operator feedback on several key pieces of the agreement over the next 5 years, including developing the workforce, creating space to meet diverse needs and refining affordability supports for unique circumstances.
Stakeholder engagement began in March 2022.
Reach out to your local licensing officer or email [email protected] with questions or suggestions.
- Affordability rates chart (December 2021)