Canada - Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Agreement

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Between

Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada as represented by the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada (“Canada”)

And

Her Majesty the Queen in right of Alberta as represented by the Minister of Children’s Services (“Alberta”)

Referred to individually as the “Party” and collectively as the “Parties”

Preamble

Whereas Alberta is responsible for the design and delivery of early learning and child care systems pursuant to the Child Care Licensing Act and the Child Care Licensing Regulation.

Whereas, Canada and Alberta signed a Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, as set out in Annex 1, on June 12, 2017 which articulated their shared vision for early learning and child care and describes their approach to achieve this vision (“Framework”);

Whereas, the Parties have entered into this Agreement for the purposes of outlining the provision, use and reporting of funding provided by Canada to Alberta for use in implementing the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Whereas, the Department of Employment and Social Development Act authorizes the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada to enter into agreements with the provinces and territories, for the purpose of facilitating the formulation, coordination and implementation of any program or policy within the mandate of the federal Minister;

Whereas, the Government Organization Act authorizes the Minister of Children’s Services to enter in agreements with Canada under which Canada undertakes to provide funding toward costs incurred by Alberta for the provision of early learning and child care programs and services;

Whereas, Canada has, pursuant to its Policy on Transfer Payments, established a transfer payment program to provide funds to the provincial and territorial governments for the development and delivery of regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under six years of age with consideration for families more in need;

Whereas, Canada, in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, is developing a separate framework on Indigenous early learning and child care.

Whereas, Alberta will continue to work to support the achievement of positive early childhood outcomes related to Indigenous children and families within the context of their jurisdictional responsibilities.

Now therefore, Canada and Alberta agree as follows:

1. Vision for Early Learning and Child Care

1.1 Canada and Alberta agree that the investment of funds provided under this Agreement will be consistent with the vision, principles and objectives for early learning and child care, which are set out in the Framework.

2. Early Learning and Child Care objectives and areas of investment

2.1 Objectives

2.1.1 Alberta is responsible for planning, determining the objectives of, defining the contents of, setting the priorities for and evaluating their programs in early learning and child care.

2.1.2 Canada and Alberta agree that over the period of this Agreement, with financial support from Canada, Alberta will further build its early learning and child care programs and services by addressing local, regional and program priorities with consideration for those families more in need by increasing the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care and by promoting, defining and delivering innovative approaches. The Action Plan, attached as Annex 2, aims achieving the objectives of:

  1. Developing and implementing innovative approaches to address early learning and child care challenges in the areas of access, affordability, flexibility, quality and inclusiveness.

Alberta’s objectives are set out in the Action Plan attached as Annex 2. Canada and Alberta agree that the funds provided under this agreement will be used to support this Action Plan and will follow the intent of the Framework.

2.2 Eligible areas of investment

2.2.1 Alberta agrees to prioritize funds provided by Canada under this Agreement in regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under the age of six where:

  1. Regulated programs and services are defined as those that meet standards that are established and/or monitored by Alberta.
  2. Early learning and child care programs and services are defined as those supporting direct care and early learning for children in settings including, but not limited to, regulated child care centres, regulated family child care homes, early learning centres, preschools and nursery schools.

2.2.2 Types of investments, though not limited to, include:

  • capital and operating funding for regulated early learning and child care,
  • fee subsidies, training, professional development and support for the early childhood workforce,
  • quality assurance,
  • parents information and referral, and
  • evaluation costs, and
  • administration costs incurred by Alberta in implementing and administering this Agreement.

2.2.3 Canada and Alberta agree that funding will be targeted toward programs and activities, as described above, for children under the age of six, with consideration for those families more in need such as lower-income families, Indigenous families, lone-parent families, families in underserved communities; those working non-standard hours; and/or families with children with varying abilities.

2.2.4 In developing and delivering its programs and services in early learning and child care, Alberta agrees to take into account the needs of official language minority communities in Alberta

3. Period of agreement

3.1 The Agreement, once signed by both Parties, shall be in effect from April 1, 2017 and will remain in effect until March 31, 2020, unless terminated earlier in accordance with section 10 of this Agreement (the “Term”). Funding provided under this Agreement, in accordance with section 4, will cover the Term.

3.2 Renewal of Bilateral Agreements

3.2.1. Canada commits that the annual allocation for the period 2020-21 to 2027-28 will be no less than the annual allocation identified in section 4.2.2 of this Agreement. Funding for future years will be provided upon the mutually agreed renewal of bilateral agreements and Alberta and Canada’s agreement on new action plans and informed by the results achieved under the action plan set out in Annex 2.

3.2.2. The renewal process will provide Alberta and Canada the opportunity to review, and if necessary, reassess priorities based on emerging local and regional early learning and child care priorities and on progress made to date.

3.2.3 In the event this bilateral agreement is renewed in accordance with the terms of section 3.2.1, Alberta may continue to use funding provided thereunder to cover the same eligible areas of investment as those covered through funding received for the period 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 subject to the terms and conditions of that renewed agreement.

4. Financial provisions

4.1 The Parties acknowledge and agree that funding under this Agreement is in addition to and not in lieu of other funding that Canada currently pays to Alberta through the Canada Social Transfer in order to support early childhood development and early learning and child care within Alberta.

4.2 Allocation to Alberta

4.2.1. In this Agreement, “Fiscal Year” means the period commencing on April 1 of any calendar year and terminating on March 31 of the immediately following calendar year.

4.2.2. Canada has designated the following maximum amounts to be transferred in total to all provinces and territories under this initiative with a fixed base rate of $2 million per year for each province and territory and the balance of the funding on a per capita basis for the period starting on April 1, 2017 and ending on March 31, 2020.

  1. $399,669,692 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2017
  2. $399,347,695 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2018
  3. $399,347,695 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2019

4.2.3. Subject to annual adjustment based on the formula described in section 4.2.3, Alberta’s estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.1 will be:

Fiscal year Estimated total amount to be paid to Alberta* (subject to annual adjustment)
2017-2018 45,630,673
2018-2019 45,593,076
2019-2020 45,593,076
  • *Illustrative levels based on July 2017 population projections as referenced in 4.2.5.

Canada commits that the annual allocation for the period 2020-21 to 2027-28 will be no less than the annual allocation of this current agreement under the conditions set in section 3.2.1.

4.2.4. The final yearly amount to be paid to provinces and territories will be calculated using the following formula F x K/L, where:

F is the annual total funding amount transferred to Alberta minus the base funding provided;

K is the total population of Alberta, as determined using annual population estimates from Statistics Canada;

L is the total population of Canada, as determined using annual population estimates from Statistics Canada.

4.2.5. For the purposes of the formula in section 4.2.4, the population of Alberta for each Fiscal Year and the total population of all provinces and territories for that Fiscal Year are the respective populations as determined on the basis of the quarterly preliminary estimates of the respective populations on July 1 of that Fiscal Year released in September of that Fiscal Year by Statistics Canada.

4.3 Payment

4.3.1 Canada’s contribution will be paid in approximately equal semi-annual installments as follows:

The total payment for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 will be paid within 30 days after the signatures from both parties are affixed to the Agreement.

In 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, the first installment will be paid on or about June 15 of each Fiscal Year. The second installment will be paid on or about November 15 of each Fiscal Year.

The amount of the first installment will be equal to 50% of the value set out in Article 4.2.3 as adjusted by Article 4.2.4.

The residual amount payable by Canada to Alberta as set out in Article 4.2.4 and adjusted pursuant to 4.2.5 will be paid as the second installment.

If Alberta fails to provide its annual audited financial statement for the previous Fiscal Year in accordance with section 5.2.1 (c), Canada may withhold payment of its second installment for the Fiscal Year until such time as the annual audited statement is provided.

Canada will notify Alberta at the beginning of the Fiscal Year of their notional amount. The notional amount will be based on the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates on July 1 of the preceding Fiscal Year. Canada will notify Alberta of the actual amount of the second installment in each Fiscal Year as determined under the formula set out in section 4.2.4 as soon as possible following the release in September of each year of the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates referred to in section 4.2.5.

Payment of Canada’s funding for each fiscal year of this Agreement is subject to an annual appropriation by the Parliament of Canada for this purpose. If federal funding is reduced by the Parliament of Canada, Alberta’s commitments will be adjusted accordingly.

4.4 Carry Forward

4.4.1 At the request of Alberta and on the approval of Canada’s Treasury Board, Alberta may retain and carry forward to Fiscal Year 2018-2019, an amount of up to 50% of the contribution paid to Alberta for 2017-2018 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by Alberta in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2018-2019 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.4.2 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to Fiscal Year 2018-2019 under this section is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to Alberta under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2018-2019.

4.4.3 The amount carried forward pursuant to section 4.4.2 must be spent by March 31, 2019. Alberta is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31, 2019, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada’s contribution for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 paid pursuant to section 4.2.3 that remains unexpended at the end of that Fiscal Year. Such amounts are to be repaid to Canada in accordance with section 4.6.

4.4.4 At the request of Alberta and subject to the approval of Canada’s Treasury Board, Alberta may retain and carry forward to Fiscal Year 2019-2020, an amount of up to 10% of the contribution paid to Alberta for 2018-2019 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by Alberta in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2019-2020 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.4.5 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to Fiscal Year 2019-2020 under this section is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to Alberta under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2019-2020.

4.4.6 The amount carried forward pursuant to section 4.4.5 must be spent by March 31, 2020. Alberta is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31, 2020, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada’s contribution for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 paid pursuant to section 4.2.3 that remains unexpended at the end of that fiscal year. Such amounts are to be repaid to Canada in accordance with section 4.6.

4.5 Maximum annual contribution in respect of administration costs

4.5.1. Canada’s contribution in respect of Alberta’s administration costs referred to in section 2.2.2 shall not exceed:

In each of Fiscal Years 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, an amount up to 10% of the maximum amount payable for that Fiscal Year.

4.6 Repayment of overpayment

4.6.1. In the event payments made to Alberta exceed the amount to which Alberta is entitled under the Agreement, the amount of the excess is a debt due to Canada and Alberta agrees to, unless otherwise agreed, repay the amount within sixty (60) calendar days of written notice from Canada.

4.7 Use of Funds

4.7.1 Canada and Alberta agree that funds provided by Canada under this Agreement will only be used by Alberta in accordance with the areas for investment outlined in section 2.2 of this Agreement.

5. Planning and reporting

5.1 Action Plan

5.1.1. Alberta has completed and shared its Action Plan for the years 2017-18 – 2019-20 of federal funding with Canada, as set out in Annex 2. Upon signature of this Agreement by both Parties, Alberta will publicly release their Action Plan which:

  1. Identifies priority areas for investment and objectives, within the Framework’s parameters, which builds upon the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and/or inclusivity of their early learning and child care system;
  2. Describes how Alberta plans to demonstrate progress based on the principles and objectives of the Framework;
  3. Outlines Alberta’s planned innovation spending;
  4. Demonstrates that federal investments will not displace existing Alberta early learning and child care spending;
  5. Outlines the indicators that will be reported on annually according to their planned investments;
  6. Identifies targets for each indicator that will be reported on annually for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement;
  7. May identify additional targets for jurisdiction-specific indicators in relation to the objectives of the Agreement for tracking progress;
  8. Includes the description and results of consultations, and the stakeholder groups consulted.

5.1.2 Alberta will share with Canada the results of any consultations undertaken during the development of its Action Plan. Alberta consults regularly and acknowledges that the needs and perspectives of its stakeholders necessarily shape its Action Plan.

5.2 Reporting

5.2.1. As soon as available in 2017-18, Alberta agrees to provide all available data on the agreed-to indicators.

5.2.2 By no later than October 1, of each Fiscal Year during the Term, commencing in 2018-19, Alberta agrees to:

  1. Report to the people of Alberta and share with Canada the results and expenditures of early learning and child care programs and services resulting from funding provided by Canada under this Agreement. The report shall include the:
    • number of children benefiting from subsidies, and
    • number of licensed early learning and child care spaces broken down by age of child and type of setting.
    • The report shall demonstrate the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this Agreement.
  2. Share with Canada an Annual Report in the format and manner agreed upon jointly by Alberta and Canada. The report shall demonstrate the results attributable to the Action Plan and the funding provided by Canada under this Agreement and will include:
    1. Brief description of the activities, expenditures and results of the Canada-Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Agreement as set out in Annex 2;
    2. Results achieved according to the indicators and measures referred to in Annex 2;
    3. Impact on families as stated in 2.2.3.
    4. Description of consultation processes as relevant,
    5. Innovation spending referred to in Annex 2; and
    6. Any additional results of evaluation activities undertaken in the Fiscal Year, as available.
  3. Alberta agrees to share with Canada an audited financial statement of revenues received from Canada under this Agreement.
    1. The revenue section of the statement shall show the amount received from Canada under this Agreement during the Fiscal Year.
    2. The total amount of funding used for ELCC programs and services under section 2.2.
    3. The administration costs incurred by Alberta in developing and administering ELCC programs under section 2.2.3
    4. If applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be carried over by Alberta, as agreed to by Canada.
    5. If applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be repaid to Canada under section 4.6.

The financial statement shall be prepared in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the audit shall be performed by the Alberta Auditor General or his/her delegate, or by an independent public accounting firm registered under the laws of Alberta and shall be conducted in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.

Canada agrees to review the Statement of Expenditures referred to in section 5.2.1.c) within three months of receiving it.

5.2.3 Upon agreement by Alberta and Canada, Canada may incorporate all or any part or parts of the said report into any public report that Canada may prepare for its own purposes, including any reports to the Parliament of Canada or reports that may be made public.

5.3 Audit

5.3.1 Alberta will ensure that expenditure information presented in the annual report is, in accordance with Alberta’s standard accounting practices, complete and accurate.

5.4 Evaluation

5.4.1 Alberta is responsible for evaluating its early learning and child care programs and services. As per established policies and processes with respect to program effectiveness, Alberta will evaluate programs and services receiving funds provided under this Agreement and will make public the results of any such evaluation.

6. Long-term collaboration

6.1 Canada and Alberta agree to share and release data as available, and knowledge, research and information on effective and innovative practices in early learning and child care, to further support the development of and reporting on quality and outcomes. Canada and Alberta agree to work together and with stakeholders towards the development of common quality and outcome measures that may be included in bilateral agreements in the future.

6.2 Canada and Alberta agree to work together to improve data collection and dissemination on key early learning and child care information for children under age six.

7. Communications

7.1 Canada and Alberta agree on the importance of communicating with citizens about the objectives of this Agreement in an open, transparent, effective and proactive manner through appropriate public information activities.

7.2 Each government will receive the appropriate credit and visibility when investments financed through funds granted under this Agreement are announced to the public.

7.3 The Parties agree to give 10 days’ advance notice of public communications related to the bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

7.4 Canada and Alberta reserve the right to conduct public communications, announcements, events, outreach and promotional activities about Framework and bilateral agreements.

8. Dispute resolution

8.1 Canada and Alberta are committed to working together and avoiding disputes through government-to-government information exchange, advance notice, early consultation, and discussion, clarification, and resolution of issues, as they arise.

8.2 If at any time either Canada or Alberta is of the opinion that the other Party has failed to comply with any of its obligations or undertakings under this Agreement or is in breach of any term or condition of the Agreement, Canada or Alberta, as the case may be, shall notify the other Party in writing of the issue. Upon such notice, Canada and Alberta will endeavour to resolve the issue in dispute bilaterally through their Designated Officials, at the Assistant Deputy Minister level.

8.3 If the dispute referred to in subsection 8.2 cannot be resolved by Designated Officials within 60 days, then the dispute will be referred to the respective Deputy Ministers of the Parties, and if it cannot be resolved by them, then the respective Ministers of the Parties shall endeavour to resolve the dispute.

9. Amendments to the agreement

9.1 This Agreement, including all attached annexes, except Annex 1, may be amended at any time by mutual consent of the Parties. To be valid, any amendments shall be in writing and signed, in the case of Canada, by the federal Minister, and in the case of Alberta by the Alberta Minister.

10. Termination

10.1 Canada or Alberta may terminate this Agreement at any time if the terms of this Agreement are not respected by the other party by giving the other Party twelve months’ written notice of intention to terminate.

10.2 As of the effective date of termination of this Agreement under section 10.1, Canada shall have no obligation to make any further payments to Alberta.

10.3 As of the effective date of termination of this Agreement under section 10.1, Alberta shall have no obligations under this Agreement, except for those that may arise under section 4.5.1.

11. Notice

11.1 Any notice, information or document provided for under this Agreement will be effectively given if delivered or sent by letter, postage or other charges prepaid. Any notice that is delivered will have been received in delivery; and, except in periods of postal disruption, any notice mailed will be deemed to have been received eight calendar days after being mailed.

The address for notice or communication to Canada shall be:

140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0J9

The address for notice or communication to Alberta shall be:

Office of the Deputy Minister
Children’s Services
12th floor Sterling Place
9940 – 106 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 2N2

12. General

12.1 This Agreement, including Annexes 1 and 2, comprise the entire agreement entered into by the Parties with respect to the subject matter hereof.

12.2 This Agreement is based on the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, Annex 1, concluded on June 12, 2017.

12.3 This Agreement shall be interpreted according to the laws of Canada and Alberta, as applicable.

12.4 Canada acknowledges that no member of the House of Commons or of the Senate of Canada shall be admitted to any share or part of this Agreement, or to any benefit arising therefrom.

12.5 Alberta acknowledges that no member of the Legislature of Alberta shall be admitted to any share or part of this Agreement, or to any benefit arising therefrom.

12.6 If for any reason a provision of this Agreement that is not a fundamental term is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be or to have become invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, it will be deemed to be severable and will be deleted from this Agreement, but all the other provisions of this Agreement will continue to be valid and enforceable.

12.7 This Agreement is drafted in English at the request of the Parties.

Signed on behalf of Canada by the Minister of Employment and Social Development at Gatineau this 20th day of December, 2017.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Employment and Social Development

Signed on behalf of Alberta by the Minister of Children’s Services at Edmonton this 15th day of December, 2017.

The Honourable Minister Larivee, Minister of Children’s Services

Approved Pursuant to the Government Organization Act: December 15th, 2017, in Edmonton.

Intergovernmental Relations, Executive Council

Annex 1: Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers most responsible for Early Learning and Child Care agreeFootnote 1 on the importance of supporting parents, families and communities in their efforts to ensure the best possible future for their children. For more details on this agreement, please consult the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Annex 2: Alberta’s action plan

Government of Alberta’s commitment to child care

Alberta believes accessible, affordable quality child care is essential to positive early childhood development, labour force participation of parents, women’s equality, social integration and inclusion of newcomers, and poverty reduction - all aspects of social and economic growth.

In March 2017, the Government of Alberta announced the development and implementation of 22 Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Centres. These ELCC Centres, funded by the province for approximately $10 million per year for three years, will:

  • Increase accessibility through space creation, increased enrolment through staff recruitment and retention and increased inclusion practices for children with diverse needs;
  • Increase affordability by introducing $25/day child care and continued support of child care subsidy for lower income families;
  • Enhance quality, including implementing an early learning and child care curriculum framework and inclusive child care practice with staff training on evidence-based practice components;
  • Offer flexible child care: an innovation to support vulnerable families working shift work or multiple jobs, or attending school and needing part-time child care and/or care outside the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday;
  • Offer improvements to address gaps. Improvements include collaborations with other service organizations to support:
    • Co-location or new partnerships in delivery;
    • Knowledge about cultural diversity, language acquisition, and learning including immigrant and refugee children;
    • Recognition of Indigenous children and support of their cultural diversity;
    • Projects that target official language minority children;
    • The provision of parenting resources and support to families of children attending the child care program; and
    • Supports for vulnerable families who are more in need (i.e., low socio-economic status, lone parent families, parenting teens, and women facing additional barriers).
  • Include a program evaluation, results of which will inform government decisions on future funding and/or possible expansion.

Alberta’s child care system - Overview

Legislative authority for licensing child care programs, approval of family day homes and certification of child care staff is derived from the Child Care Licensing Act.

As of March 2017, approximately 93,000 children were enrolled in approximately 117,000 licensed and approved child care spaces. Licensed and approved child care spaces include day care programs; group family care; innovative child care; half-day pre-school programs; out-of-school care programs; and approved family day homes.

There are approximately 2,600 licensed and approved child care programs across the province. Approximately 15,500 certified child care staff work in licensed day care, out–of-school-care programs and approved family day home agencies.

All staff working directly with children in licensed day care programs, out-of-school care programs and pre-school programs must be certified at one of the three levels of certification:

  • Child Development Supervisor (e.g. two-year Early Learning and Child Care diploma);
  • Child Development Worker (e.g. one-year Early Learning and Child Care certificate); and
  • Child Development Assistant (e.g. completed the child care orientation course).

Government supports Alberta’s child care system through two major programs: the Child Care Subsidy program and the Child Care Accreditation program. Alberta invests approximately $300 million annually in child care, of which approximately $200 million supports child care subsidy and approximately $100 million supports child care accreditation.

Of the approximately 93,000 children enrolled in child care, the provincial government provides child care subsidies to nearly 25,000 children in licensed and approved child care programs. Of those, approximately 81 per cent received full subsidy and 19 per cent a partial subsidy in 2016-17.

The child care accreditation program is comprised of standards of excellence and funding to support quality in a child care setting including recruitment and retention of qualified staff. The accreditation standards are in place to promote quality child care. The accreditation standards are based on current research and leading practices that focus on outcomes related to children, staff, families and communities (which are over and above the provincial licensing requirements).

The Child Care Accreditation program was designed to support quality in a child care setting including recruitment and retention of qualified staff. Alberta is the only jurisdiction in Canada to accredit child care programs.

As of March 2017, approximately 97 per cent of day care and approved family day home programs are participating in accreditation, as are approximately 88 per cent of out-of school care programs in Alberta.

Working Together

On June 12, 2017, Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers signed the Multilateral Framework (Framework) on Early Learning and Child Care which outlines principles of high quality; accessible, affordable, and flexible care, and inclusivity. Federal investments of approximately $45.6 million per year over three years (2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20) will support Alberta’s early learning and child care goals.

Alberta’s action plan, in full respect of the provincial government’s roles and responsibilities in this area of provincial jurisdiction, sets out how the federal contributions will be used to advance the principles and objectives outlined in the Multilateral Framework on Early Learning and Child Care by building upon Alberta’s existing system of programs and services; prioritizing investments in regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under age six; and with consideration for families more in need.

In keeping with the principles of the Multilateral Framework, Alberta will use Government of Canada investments to further build Alberta’s early learning and child care system, implementing innovations and improvements that address gaps in the current system. These include, local and regional as well as priorities that impact families more in need, such as lower-income families; Indigenous families; families who belong to official language minority communities, lone-parent families; families in underserved communities; those working non-standard hours; and/or families with children with varying abilities.

Priority areas of investment: Innovations

The Multilateral Framework notes that as early learning and child care systems are operating in increasingly complex and challenging environments, innovative practices can help develop solutions that better meet the complex needs of children and families, and can support more integrated and higher quality early learning and child care systems.

As part of the federal funding provided under this Framework, Alberta will promote, define and deliver identifiable innovative approaches to enhance the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility, and inclusivity of early learning and child care systems, with consideration for those more in need.

Accessibility

The majority of Alberta parents with children under age six work outside the home. Access to quality child care can be a challenge in provincial hot spots such as Calgary and harder-to-serve populations, such as those in rural and remote communities.

Federal investments will help to improve access to child care in provincial high-needs areas as well as rural and remote communities. This includes flexible and responsive programs that meet varying needs of children and families.

Affordability

High parent fees often put regulated child care out of the reach of many families. Alberta will increase access to more affordable child care at $25/day and offer more flexible early learning and child care options to support families participating in employment, education or training.

Alberta intends to use federal investments to expand the number of ELCC Centres by up to 78 additional sites in addition to the original 22 ELCC Centres funded by the province.

Quality

According to provincial Early Development Instrument (EDI) results for the school year 2015-16, approximately 29 per cent of Alberta children beginning school experience difficulty in at least one aspect of their development – a rate higher than the Canadian average of 25 per cent. Aspects of development include physical health and well-being; language and cognitive skills; communication skills and general knowledge; social competence; and emotional maturity.

Strong evidence shows positive relationships between quality early learning and child care and child developmental outcomes. As the early years of life are critical in the development and well-being of the child, Alberta uses research, such as the Early Development Instrument (EDI), to inform decisions to address gaps in the child care delivery system. Research also emphasizes the importance of building strong, responsive and respectful relationships in which purposeful interactions support optimal learning for children, and inclusive early learning and child care environments that respect and value diversity.

Development and implementation of Early Learning and Child Care Centres

In March 2017, the Government of Alberta invested approximately $10 million per year for three years to support 22 Early Learning and Child Care Centres.

Early childhood experiences build the developmental foundation of social competence, emotional maturity, physical health and well-being, language and thinking skills, communications skills and general knowledge necessary for young children’s future school, health, career and life outcomes. To help ensure optimal early childhood development that has positive lifelong impacts, infants and young children require dependable and responsive interactions with nurturing adults in caring, respectful and safe environments. ELCC Centres were developed based on this and other supporting evidence regarding the importance of quality child care environments for young children under age six.

The ELCC Centres test innovative concepts in the areas of access, affordability and quality. The centres also respond to a number of issues identified in the existing child care system, including better supports for children with diverse needs and flexible hours for parents. Through evidence, ELCC Centres demonstrate to Albertans what a new approach to child care could look like.

The ELCC Centres:

  • Were developed in alignment with government’s commitment to improved access, affordability and quality, and to test the $25/day flat rate fee.
  • Build on current child care innovations, such as Alberta’s Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework – an evidence-based practice framework that involves inclusive child care community supports; an evidence-based on-site coaching model designed to improve staff competencies; community hub models of child care and parent programs; and on-site coaching to improve compliance to regulations and promotion of quality;
  • Include design, development, and implementation that take into account both urban and rural considerations as well as infant care spaces;
  • Whenever possible, create community hubs with other parenting resources and supports such as Parent Link Centres;
  • Will be evaluated including “testing” the funding model for viability and sustainability;
  • Will have outcome and performance measures to demonstrate to Albertans what quality child care can achieve.

Expanding the number of Alberta’s Early Learning and Child Care Centres

Alberta will expand the number of ELCC Centres using funds provided by the federal government under this bilateral agreement.

  • In addition to the 22 ELCC Centres funded by Alberta, federal contributions will be used to support up to an estimated additional 78 ELCC Centres.
  • This will allow eligible programs to apply, through an expression of interest process, to be an additional ELCC Centre between November 2017 and January 2018.
  • Upon the conclusion of the expression of interest process, grants for the estimated 78 additional ELCC Centres will be disbursed to successful applicants in March 2018.
  • This expansion will increase the total number of children enrolled in ELCC Centres from approximately 1, 300 in Alberta’s 22 sites up to an estimated total of 5, 800 children in approximately 100 ELCC Centres across the province (an increase of approximately 4,500 children with the federal funding invested).

Federal investments

Federal investments in Alberta will not displace existing provincial funding in early learning and child care, including the current provincial investment of $10 million per year for three years in the Early Learning and Child Care Centre initiative.

Federal investments for 2017-2018 is $45,630,673.00. Based on the revised quarterly preliminary estimates of Canada’s population for July 1, 2017, Alberta’s notional allocation for 2018-2019 is $45,593,076.00 and for 2019-2020 is $45,593,076.00

These amounts represent annual estimates based on the quarterly preliminary estimates of Canada’s population for July 1, 2017. Please note that actual allocations may vary according to the latest population estimates.

Alberta will allocate approximately $44 million to direct service delivery (i.e. operating grants) and the remaining approximately $1.6 million will be allocated to administrative costs such as evaluation and IT systems supports for data collection and analysis of this initiative. Funding will be targeted toward regulated child care programs for children under the age of six.

Areas of investment: affordability, accessibility, quality and improvements*
Areas of investment 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Additional 78 ELCC centres providing quality child care direct service delivery for up to an additional 4,500 children whose parents pay a flat rate of $25 per day $44 $44 $44
Affordability ($25/day capped parental fees).
An estimated 53%* of funding will go towards affordability. This will support family needs such as:
  • Flexible/Extended hours
  • Infant/Toddler Spaces
  • Rural Spaces
  • Support for children with diverse needs
As a result, up to an estimated 4,500 children will benefit.
$23.19M $23.19M $23.19M
Accessibility
An estimated 23%* of the funding will go to initiatives including:
  • New spaces
  • Improving enrollment
  • Children with special/varying needs
As a result, up to an estimated 3,000 new spaces will be created
$9.98M $9.98M $9.98M
Quality
11%* of funding will go to initiatives such as:
  • implementation of ELCC curriculum framework and inclusive child care practice for children with diverse needs
As a result, an estimated 4,500 children will benefit
$4.79M $4.79M $4.79M
Improvements such as flexibility & inclusivity
13%* of funding will go to other Improvements as set out in the Expression of Interest guide such as linguistic diversity and language acquisition

As a result, up to 4,500 children will benefit
$6.04M $6.04M $6.04M
  • *Note: Assumptions above are based on the impacts Alberta saw in the 22 existing pilot programs.

An expression of interest process will be launched in December 2017 in order to support a transparent and fair selection process. The process will remain open until January 2018.

As part of the expression of interest process, the applicants for the additional 78 ELCC Centres must demonstrate their ability to implement one or more improvements such as increasing the number of flexible child care spaces in Alberta, and/or supporting parents working in non-traditional hours.

The additional centres will also have to demonstrate how their programs support quality improvements including increasing the number of staff trained and supported in Alberta’s ELCC curriculum framework. The expanded ELCC Centre settings will also improve the number of programs with staff who are trained in inclusive child care practices. In addition, the addition of 78 ELCC Centers will increase the number of programs with resources and innovative tools to support children’s cultural and linguistic diversity, including language acquisition.

Further information on anticipated impacts of the expansion will be available upon the conclusion of the expression of interest process.

This process will invite the submission of grant proposals from not-for-profit organizations that currently operate or propose to operate a licensed day care programs.

Applicants will submit a grant proposal which outlines how each of the activities relevant to accessibility, affordability and quality and other improvements will be addressed. Proposals will be assessed by a committee of ministry subject matter experts.

Quality child care creates positive child care experiences and fosters cognitive skills along with character skills such as attentiveness; perseverance; emotional regulation and sociability. These help children grow up to be productive and engaged citizens. Quality child care, when linked with parenting resources and supports such as Parent Link Centres or adjacent to or a part of school, community centres and other public buildings, also helps promote social inclusion for families and social cohesion in community.

Grants for the estimated 78 additional ELCC Centres will be disbursed to successful applicants in March 2018.

Successful applicants will receive funding (e.g. operational grants) based on their adherence to standards that will support affordability, accessibility, inclusivity and quality child care. Standards include:

Affordability

  • Maximum parent fees of $25/day, plus access to the current subsidy system for parents unable to afford $25/day;

Accessibility

  • Increased child enrolment through development of new spaces or support to ensure enrolment meets licensed capacity through recruitment and retention of certified child care staff;
  • Specific supports that may be needed to accommodate quality infant care and flexible/extended- hours child care.

Quality

  • Support for on-site leadership with parent engagement and pedagogical mentoring under Alberta’s Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework, an evidence-based practice framework including a specific focus on Child Development Supervisors given the importance of their leadership role; Alberta’s ELCC curriculum framework to provide rich early learning experiences and environments that view children as capable, competent learners who are full of potential;
  • Adherence to process quality, which is the measurement of quality interactions between staff and children and curriculum implementation (versus structural quality indicators in accreditation). This would include consideration of validated tools such as the Teaching Pyramid Observation Tool (TPOT), Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS), Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS), staff self evaluations, peer reviews and/or parental reviews;
  • Providing staff training and development on these innovations;
  • Provision of parenting resources and supports to families attending the child care program and broader community; and
  • Material/equipment needed to support quality program activities.

Inclusivity

  • An inclusive policy to support full participation of children with diverse needs and varying abilities in the child care program; and
  • Evidence-based interventions to support child care practitioners in providing inclusive environments for children with special needs (e.g. Getting Ready for Inclusion Today’s inclusive child care on-site coaching models) and intercultural supports as well as support for linguistic minority communities;

Early Learning and Child Care activities – Expression of interest 2017

Access

  • Increase the number of new child care spaces (up to $3000.00 per space can be requested for space creation)
    Or
  • Increased enrollment (up to $3000.00 per new enrollment can be requested for space creation)
  • Where feasible,
    • locate the new spaces in a community where there is shortage of child care spaces, poor early development outcomes and high community needs
    • increase participation of children in the infant age group and/or children with diverse needs
    • work with partners such as school authorities, municipal governments to promote child care spaces in public buildings, schools, etc.
    • co-locate within community buildings and/or workplaces
    • locate in a nurturing environment (such as accessible via walking or public transit to support different family circumstances)

Affordability

  • Cap parent fees at $25/per day (mandatory)
  • Participate in child care subsidy and accreditation programs.

Quality

Improvements

Proposal must include one or more improvements:

  • Provide a community needs and asset assessment that demonstrates the program’s intention to serve diverse and/or vulnerable populations within their community and leverage community assets. For example, one or more areas may be identified in your community needs assessment that could:
    • Offer flexible child care to support parents who are working or attending school outside of typical child care operations and/or who work on a part-time basis.
    • Identify opportunities to collaborate with other service organizations for co- location or new partnerships in delivering ELCC.
    • Ensure collaboration with other service organizations that support knowledge about supporting cultural and linguistic diversity as it relates to Indigenous, immigrant and refugee children.
    • Ensure collaboration with other service organizations to support the provision of parenting resources and supports to families attending the child care program.
    • Collaborate to support vulnerable families (i.e. low socio-economic status, lone parent families, parenting teens, and women facing additional barriers).
    • Support language acquisition of an additional language
    • Official Language Minority Children
    • Support child care in rural communities.

Other

  • If selected, participants must:
    • participate in an evaluation;
    • participate in a learning community with other demonstration sites;
    • share financial records to support the development of an equitable funding formula that accommodates improved financial compensation for staff and accessible fees for parents;
    • demonstrate evidence of program improvements to broader community and stakeholders;
    • agree to use Government of Alberta branding guidelines and logos for ELCC Centres;
    • for licensed programs, give a copy of the Alberta Child Care Accreditation certificate (or documentation evidencing intent of accreditation in the next 12 months).

The expansion of Alberta’s Early Learning and Child Care Centres supports the principles of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework to increase quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity for early learning and child care.

Impact of Alberta ELCC Centres expansion

The expansion of the ELCC initiative of up to 78 additional ELCC Centres will improve accessibility, affordability and flexibility of childcare. By investing federal funds of approximately $45.6 million per year over three years (2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20), up to additional 78 ELCC Centers will be operational in Alberta.

With the 78 additional ELCC Centres, approximately 3,000 new spaces will be created and it is estimated that additional 4,500 children will have access to quality child care in ELCC settings, expanding the total number of children enrolled in ELCC Centres from approximately 1,300 in Alberta’s 22 sites to up to an estimated total of 5,800 children in approximately 100 ELCC Centres across the province. The parents of those children will have access to more affordable childcare at a flat rate of $25 per day.

The impact of the 22 ELCC Centres currently funded by Alberta gives insight into the anticipated impacts associated with the expansion of the ELCC centres. Highlights of the current ELCC Centres include:

  • All programs are located in communities identified as having a high need for child care.
  • Of the 1,296 licensed child care spaces in the Early Learning and Child Care Centres, 714 of these are new.
    • A new child care space is defined as a newly licensed space or a new enrollment due to hiring new child care staff to ensure legislated staff to child ratios are met. (For example, a child care may be licensed for 30 spaces but can only enroll 20 children because they do not have the number of certified child care staff to meet legislated staff to child ratios).
    • 636 net new licensed child care spaces have been created in nine new programs (462 spaces) and in 13 existing programs (174 spaces).
    • In addition to the 174 spaces created in existing programs, these programs increased enrollment by approximately 78 additional children by hiring more certified staff.
  • Approximately 119 new child care staff have been hired to support the new spaces and/or additional enrollment.
  • An estimated minimum of 357 Albertans are expected to enter the workforce due to the availability of additional child care in high demand areas.
  • All parents whose children are enrolled in the ELCC Centres pay no more than $25 per day for child care. Child care subsidy continues to be available for eligible parents.
  • All programs provide supports to implement quality initiatives including the evidence-based ELCC Curriculum Framework and Inclusive Child Care programming.
  • Improvements of the 22 ELCC Centres:
    • 13 out of 22 programs (59%) offer flexible child care to support parents who are working or attending school outside of typical child care operations and/or who work on a part-time basis.
    • 19 out of 22 programs (86%) collaborate with other service organizations for co-location or new partnerships in delivering early learning and child care.
    • 21 out of 22 programs (95%) collaborate with other service organizations that support knowledge about cultural diversity and learning as it relates to Indigenous, children in French speaking communities, immigrant and refugee children.
    • 21 out of 22 programs (95%) collaborate with other service organizations to support the provision of parenting resources and supports to families attending the child care program.
    • All programs (100%) collaborate to support vulnerable families (i.e. low socio-economic status, lone parent families, parenting teens, and women facing additional barriers).
    • 10 out of 22 programs (45%) support child care in rural communities.

Gender considerations

Affordable child care plays a significant role in women’s labour force participation.

  • Alberta reports 60 per cent for mothers of the youngest age group, children zero to two years of age (10th), and 72 per cent for mothers of children three to five years of age (ninth), as compared to national averages of 70 and 77 per cent respectively.
  • Statistics Canada labour force participation rates for women overall in Alberta were 66.2 per cent in 2014Footnote 2 as compared to the national average for women of 61.6 per centFootnote 3.

Alberta’s child care workforce consists almost entirely of women. Research shows that despite the important role child care practitioners play in young children’s lives, they are undervalued as a sector in both compensation and professional standing. Community stakeholder conversations and regional delivery system interviews show consistent difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified child care practitioners, especially in rural areas

Federal investments will help Alberta expand the provincial child care workforce to staff the new ELCC Centres, creating additional child care spaces with more affordable fees, supporting more parents who are working or attending training, and with the additional option of qualifying for child care subsidy for those families more in need.

Indigenous Peoples

The expansion of Alberta’s ELCC Centres, supported by federal contributions, is positioned to support child care programs that serve Indigenous children and their families.

Alberta’s current investments in the 22 ELCC Centres contribute specific benefits to Indigenous children and their families. For example, Opokaa’sin Early Intervention Society of Lethbridge and Métis Calgary Family Services Society were provided with:

  • Enhanced operational funding, which could be used to support cultural programming, involvement of Elders and provision of cultural foods for children that meet Canada’s Food Guide, First Nations, Inuit and Métis requirements; and
  • Access to Indigenous consultants and mentors to support all children to fully participate in the child care program, including children with diverse needs.

Alberta views these programs as strong examples of how Indigenious child care programming can be operationalized in licensed child care settings. Alberta encourages applications from child care programs that wish to offer Indigenous programming especially those in rural and remote communities.

Alberta agrees to take into account the needs of Indigenous communities and encourages proposals from Indigenous child care programs with a particular emphasis on cultural and linguistic diversity including language acquisition.

Addressing children and families more in need

Canada and Alberta agree about the importance of supporting parents, families and communities in their efforts to ensure the best possible future for their children, and recognize that quality early learning and child care systems play an important role in promoting the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of young children, and can support positive lifelong benefits.

The Multilateral Framework is premised on evidence that there are positive relationships between quality early learning and child care, especially for less advantaged children, parental labour market participation, especially for women, and child developmental outcomes.

Alberta’s approach to the development and implementation of ELCC Centres takes into consideration those Alberta families who are more in need, such as lower incomes families, lone-parent families, families in under-served communities and those working non-standard hours.

Support for Official Language Minority Children

Franco-Albertans make up 71,535 of Alberta’s population. It is important that child care services are offered in French to support Official Language minority communities. In order to ensure strong proposals from centres that offer French child care, Alberta commits to take into account the needs of French speaking communities and take necessary steps to encourage proposals from francophone child care programs.

Currently, Alberta supports francophone child care practitioners by offering the Child Care Orientation course in French. Alberta will use federal transfers under this agreement to develop and implement a French language version of the online Child Care Orientation Course to help increase training access for francophone child care staff. Also, Play, Participation, and Possibilities: An Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework for Alberta has been translated into French and the first cohort of educators have been trained. Alberta will use federal transfers under this agreement to increase support for the curriculum framework for francophone child care practitioners.

The expansion of Alberta’s ELCC Centres up to 100 ELCC Centres, supported by federal contributions, is positioned to support child care programs who serve French speaking communities.

Planned innovation spending

Increasing the number of Early Learning and Child Care Centers reflects Alberta’s commitment to develop and implement innovative approaches to address early learning and child care challenges in the areas of access, affordability, flexibility, quality and inclusiveness. This initiative:

  • Builds on current child care innovations, such as Alberta’s Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework – an evidence-based practice framework, inclusive child care community supports – an evidence-based on-site coaching model designed to improve staff competencies, community hub models of child care and parent programs, and on-site coaching to improve compliance to regulations and promotion of quality;
  • Includes design, development, and implementation that take into account both urban and rural considerations as well as infant care spaces;
  • Whenever possible, creates community hubs with other parenting resources and supports such as Parent Link Centres;
  • Will be evaluated including “testing” the funding model for viability and sustainability;
  • Will have outcomes and performance measures to demonstrate to Albertans what quality child care can achieve.

Evaluation and indicators

  • Each ELCC Centre is required to participate in the evaluation of the ELCC Centres’ effectiveness in increasing the accessibility, affordability and quality of early learning and child care in Alberta over the three-year period.
  • The evaluation plan will:
    • Assess program implementation, including fidelity to the ELCC Centre activities specified in the operating grant agreements;
    • Determine the extent to which intended outcomes specified in the ELCC Centre grant agreement documents can be and are achieved;
    • Measure and assess the effectiveness of ELCC Centre activities at improving the accessibility, affordability, and quality of early learning and child care;
    • Identify lessons learned and best practices that can be used to improve program design, delivery and effectiveness;
    • Demonstrate accountability for the effective and efficient use of program funding;
    • Inform potential future investment in ELCC Centres; and
    • Assess the potential social impact and sustainability of ELCC Centres in Alberta.

Alberta will report on indicators related specifically to ELCC Centres funded under the bilateral agreement. Please note that more information on indicators will become available after the expression of interest process concludes and successful applicants receive their operating grants. It is anticipated the following indicators will be reported on:

Objectives Outputs / Outcomes Indicators Targets Principles supported
Increased access to ELCC Centres More children have access to quality child care in ELCC Centre settings Number of children who are enrolled in an ELCC Centre
(Geographic and/or regional expansion)
Estimated increase in enrolment by approximately 4,500 children (an increase from 1,300 children in Alberta’s 22 pilot sites to around  5,800 children in total) Access
  More children have access to flexible child care, which in turn, supports parents with non-traditional work hours Number of flexible child care spaces offered in ELCC Centres Estimated increase in the number of flexible child care spaces
in the approximately 78 additional centres
Flexibility
Increased affordability for Alberta families More children whose parents pay a flat rate for child care – at a lower cost than average parent fees Number of children whose parents pay a flat rate of $25 per day (Survey respondents) Estimated increase of approximately 4,500 children (an increase from 1,300 children in Alberta’s 22 pilot sites to around  5,800 children in total  whose parents pay $25 per day Affordability
  More children receive child care subsidy Number and percentage of children who receive child care subsidy in an ELCC centre Percentage of all children attending regulated child care whose parents receive child care subsidy Proportions of non-ELCC children who receive subsidy compared with proportion of ELCC children who receive subsidy to demonstrate that ELCC does not push out lower income families Affordability
Increased Quality in ELCC Centres More programs have  staff who are trained and supported in evidence-based practice Number and proportion of ELCC Centre programs with staff adopting innovative tools such as the early learning and child care curriculum framework Increase in number of ELCC Centres programs with  staff who are trained and supported in the early learning and child care curriculum framework Quality
  More programs have  staff who are trained and supported in evidence-based inclusive child care practice Number and proportion of ELCC Centre programs with staff adopting innovative tools to support children with diverse needs Increase in programs with  staff who are trained in inclusive child care practices Quality/ Inclusive care
  More programs have the resources to support children with diverse needs Number and proportion of ELCC Centre programs with resources and innovative tools to support children’s cultural and  linguistic diversity Increase in programs with resources and innovative tools to support children’s  cultural and  linguistic diversity, including language acquisition Quality/ Inclusive care
Increased Support for Official Language Minority Communities More pilot programs offering care to children in French Additional ELCC Centre programs that offer care to children in their first language of French Increase in ECEs who receive training in French as well as an increase in French program offering Inclusive

Engagement of key child care sector stakeholders

The Early Learning and Child Care Centre initiative is based on evidence and informed by on-going collaboration with key child care stakeholders, including the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta, the Muttart Foundation, MacEwan University and Mount Royal University, Getting Ready for Inclusion Today, Alberta Leaders Caucus on Early Learning and Child Care, Alberta Resource Centre for Quality Enhancement and experts from across Alberta and other jurisdictions. Alberta Children’s Services has an ongoing relationship with its key stakeholders in the child care sector bolstered by quarterly meetings each year.

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