Federal-provincial child care agreement

Overview

Expands accessible, affordable and high-quality child care to give Alberta families the choice they need.

Overview

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:

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Canada-Alberta Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.

Accepting applications

  • 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

  • Icon with gear and money symbol
    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
  • Icon of a piggybank
    Improving affordability

    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
  • Icon of a family
    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
  • Icon of a hand holding a book
    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.

Parent information

Additional details will be shared as programs are developed.

  • How fees will be reduced

    In step one of this 4-year plan, all parents of children 0 to kindergarten age (in kindergarten and also attending child care during regular school hours) will pay reduced child care fees in 2022. By 2025-26, parents will pay, on average, $10 a day per child.

    Fees will be reduced in 2 ways:

    • providing affordability grants to licensed preschools, daycares and family day homes under a licensed agency for operators to lower child care fees for all parents by a set amount
    • increasing family income thresholds for Child Care Subsidy eligibility criteria so more parents benefit:
      • full subsidy if gross household income is up to $119,999
      • partial subsidy if gross household income is from $120,000 to $179,999
      • preschool (part-time) flat rate of $125 per month for families earning up to $180,000

    Families will now benefit from both affordability grants and subsidies and will pay less overall. How much less you pay will depend on the age of your child and your family income. The total amount you will pay will vary depending on the fees your child care provider charges.

    If you are already receiving subsidy, you are already on your way to paying much lower fees. In January, you may find your funding looks a bit different because of the combination of grants and subsidy, but you will still be paying less overall for your licensed child care.

    The combined benefits of affordability grants and subsidies should be considered when estimating your new costs.

  • Affordability grants

    Affordability grants are provided directly to child care operators so they can lower parent fees for all families in their program. Funding is provided for each child based on age range and type of care. Preschool programs have a set rate of $75 per month per child. Parents do not need to apply to benefit from this fee reduction.

    Child care type Infant (under 19 months) Toddler (19 months to under 3 years) Preschool age (3 years to kindergarten)
    Daycare – full time $635 $510 $450
    Daycare – part time $317.50 $255 $225
    Daycare – overnight full time $952.50 $765 $675
    Daycare – overnight part time $476.25 $382.50 $337.50
    Family day home – full time $350 $325 $300
    Family day home – part time $175 $162.50 $150
    Family day home – overnight full time $525 $487.50 $450
    Family day home – overnight part time $262.50 $243.75 $225
  • Subsidy rates

    Parents with a family income under $180,000 a year will also benefit from subsidies to further reduce child care fees based on the income thresholds below.

    Applications for subsidy are now open.

    • If you already receive subsidy, you do not need to reapply.
    • If you are not currently receiving subsidy, your child is 0 to kindergarten age (in kindergarten and also attending child care during regular school hours) and your family income is under $180,000 a year, you can apply now.

    Apply for the Child Care Subsidy

    If you are already receiving subsidy, you are already on your way to paying much lower fees. In January, you may find your funding looks a bit different because of the combination of grants and subsidy, but you will still be paying less overall for your licensed child care.

    Subsidy rates and eligibility criteria for children in kindergarten to Grade 6 enrolled in a licensed program outside of regular school hours are not changing.

    Income ($) Full-time rate
    (100+ hours)
    Licensed
    preschool rate
    0 to 119,999 $266 Flat rate of $125/month (all income brackets)
    120,000 to 124,999 $253
    125,000 to 129,999 $239
    $130,000 to $134,999 $226
    $135,000 to $139,999 $213
    $140,000 to $144,999 $200
    $145,000 to $149,999 $186
    $150,000 to $154,999 $173
    $155,000 to $159,999 $160
    $160,000 to $164,999 $146
    $165,000 to $169,999 $133
    $170,000 to $174,999 $120
    $175,000 to $179,999 $106

    Part time rates are prorated based on hours (80 hours = 80% of the full time rate)

  • Finding child care with reduced fees

    To find licensed child care in your community:

    Did you know? We are working to add at least 42,500 new licensed child care spaces across Alberta over the next 5 years.

  • Additional information

    For more information, contact Child Care Connect at 1‑844‑644-5165 (toll free) or each out to your local Children's Services office.

Operator information

  • Affordability grants

    Grants

    • 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).

    Eligibility

    • 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)
  • Infant care and part-time care

    Infant 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.

    Part-time care

    • Operators are eligible for affordability supports for part-time care spaces (between 50 and 100 hours per month).
  • Private operators

    Eligibility

    • 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.

    Wage top-ups

    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.

Resources