In the earliest days of the pandemic, child care operators navigated through closures, quarantines and staffing issues, showing resilience by reopening and staying open to support the families of essential workers.
To help strengthen the child care sector, the Alberta government is directing funding from the annual Canada-Alberta bilateral agreement to help child care operators navigate through these unprecedented times.
This federal government funding, administered by the Alberta government, is helping recruit and retain qualified educators and keep skilled staff within the sector. About $19 million has already been distributed to child care operators. In addition, approximately $15 million in unspent bilateral funding will be provided to the child care sector for COVID-19 relief.
“We know quality staff provide quality child care and we’re glad to help create stability after a very challenging period for educators. This funding will help strengthen child care programs that support children and their families in this province every day.” - Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children’s Services
Funding to support the sector includes:
- $20.57 million for a child care staff recovery and retention program to help attract and retain qualified and certified educators to the sector, and to acknowledge long-term staff who have worked throughout the pandemic.
- Approximately $15 million in unspent (due to lower than expected enrolment and expenditures) bilateral funding from the federal government for COVID-19 relief to further support operators as quickly as possible.
These initiatives are part of child care supports under the extended Canada-Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Agreement that gives Alberta $290 million in federal funding over four years.
In July, the Alberta government announced $45 million of funding under the extended agreement with the federal government to enhance the child care subsidy program, increasing the threshold from $75,000 to $90,000, and making subsidy available to families enrolled in licensed preschools. This means about 12,000 more children will receive support, including children enrolled in preschool programs.
- Distribution of recovery and retention funding commenced in September and is helping programs pay for:
- financial incentives for new or returning certified educators, or those who continued to work throughout the pandemic
- incentives provided to educators for training purposes
- education supports (for example, bursaries or backfilling for educators on education leaves)
- up to 7.66 per cent for related grant administration costs
- Out of the $20.57 million allocated for recovery and retention grants, more than 2,000 programs have applied for and received almost $19 million, with more applications coming in daily.
- Distribution of additional COVID-19 relief funding will commence in December. Programs will have flexibility to use this funding to cover additional COVID-related expenses, to hire additional staff or for other operational areas of need.