Calgary... A new child care investment plan released by the Alberta government will increase the availability of child care, assist child care operators in their efforts to recruit and retain staff and help lowand middle-income parents, including parents of school-age children, with the cost of child care. The provincial plan also targets additional resources for child care in Fort McMurray.
With an investment of $242 million over three years, Creating Child Care Choices, will support the creation of 14,000 new child care spaces in a variety of settings, including family day homes, nursery schools, day cares and out-of-school care programs, by 2011. The plan also introduces a new subsidy for low- and middle-income families with children in Grades 1 to 6, effective September 1.
“Parents are an essential part of our workforce, and they need more child care choices to help ensure their children get a good start in life,” said Minister of Children and Youth Services Janis Tarchuk. “We are providing our partners, including employers, municipalities, school jurisdictions and the child care sector, with a range of tools to help address their communities’ child care needs. Our investment in child care is part of our commitment to promoting strong, vibrant communities.”
In 2008-09, the province has allocated an additional $76 million for the Creating Child Care Choices plan, including child care subsidy rates and child care staff wage supplements that respond to Fort McMurray’s unique circumstances. Highlights include:
- Extending the Northern Allowance of $1,040 per month to staff working in licensed out-of-school care programs in addition to staff working in licensed day cares;
- Boosting wage top-ups by 60 per cent for staff working in licensed day cares and approved family day homes. This brings the government top-up to the salary provided by the employer to between $1.44 per hour to $6.62 per hour;
- Introducing a new wage supplement of $144 per month for staff working in licensed out-of-school care programs;
- Introducing two new subsidies for families with school-age children: a subsidy of $355 per month for Fort McMurray families accessing licensed out-of-school care programs and a Kin Child Care subsidy of up to $229 per month for families who have a relative looking after their child;
- Allocating $42 million in capital funding over three years to support the creation of more child care spaces near schools by purchasing modulars. In addition to this provincewide initiative, another $2 million in capital funding was previously announced to build more child care spaces in Fort McMurray;
- Allotting $7 million to the successful Space Creation Innovation Fund and making it available to licensed out-of-school care programs;
- Increasing child care accreditation funding, a type of operating grant tied to the quality of programs, to $4,000 per year for pre-accredited programs and to $7,500 per year for accredited programs; Establishing an $8 million regional partnership fund to support innovative solutions to local child care needs;
- Responding to the demand for infant spaces by providing child care operators with an additional $150 per month for each infant space to offset the additional cost involved in offering infant care; and
- Introducing a scholarship of $2,500 for students who have completed the child care orientation course in high school and have enrolled in an early childhood program at a post-secondary school.
“Our goal of creating 14,000 new child care spaces in three years is ambitious but achievable,” said Tarchuk. “We will help communities build their child care capacity by enhancing some of the tools in our toolbox, adding new ones and being flexible enough to support local, innovative solutions.”
Since 2005, Alberta’s child care investment has increased by 152 per cent from $78 million in 2005-06 to an estimate of $197 million in 2008-09. More information about Creating Child Care Choices is available online at www.child.alberta.ca/childcare or by calling the toll-free Parent Information Line: 1-866-714-KIDS (5437.)