EDMONTON, AB (March 25, 2019): The Alberta Association of Child Care Operators (AACCO) is asking for clarity on the NDP’s affordable child care plan, which was announced today in Calgary.
The NDP’s proposal would expand the $25-a-day daycare program to create 75,000 affordable child care spaces – of which 13,000 would be new spaces – over five years at a cost of $1.5 billion, and the program would continue to be available to families regardless of income.
Unlike the pilot project, the NDP stated that the program would include spaces at private licensed child care centres and approved family day homes.
AACCO is concerned, however, and seeking clarity from the NDP about the roll out of this program and whether priority will be given to non-profit centres, over private centres, in the transition to $25-a-day.
“We have member centres who have seen multiple $25-a-day ELCC sites open in their neighbourhood within blocks of each other, while some nearby private centres remain largely empty,” AACCO spokesperson Anita Turna said. “Our concern is that by the time it is their turn to transition to the $25-a-day model, they may be struggling to stay open, as many currently are.”
“Many of our members are already dealing with low enrollment due to the economy and they are concerned that in the face of all of their neighbouring non-profit centres becoming $25-a-day before them, they will see a huge decrease in enrollment at their centres, which would leave them struggling to keep their doors open,” Turna said. “We applaud the NDP for finally recognizing the important role that private operators play in the child care industry, however, our members need a timeline as to when they will be included and whether the non-profit sector will be given priority or whether priority will be given to the neighbourhoods where the need is greatest. We would also like clarity as to whether other restrictions will be placed on their ability to qualify. For example, in the pilot project it was a requirement for a private centre to turn non-profit in order to apply. Is that same requirement going to be placed on the private centres aiming to become $25-a-day.”
Turna said another concern is that the program is limited to children up to the age of five, and that there are no additional supports being put in place for children attending before and after school care programs.
“There is nothing to ensure that the families that need subsidized care the most are going to receive it in a timely fashion. If the program is rolled out over five years, many families may be aged out of the program and may never be able to enjoy the benefits of affordable child care,” Turna said. ” We are asking the UCP to release their child care plan so that families are able to make an informed decision in the upcoming election.”
The AACCO is a member-driven association for Alberta’s private child care operators.
The AACCO was established in Edmonton in 2017.
More information about the AACCO and its mandate can be obtained at www.aacco.ca.