Blog | December 05, 2012

By Nick Kuhl, Lethbridge HeraldIf you can find a spot to put your children into care services, it will likely come at a high cost.As such, Public Interest Alberta (PIA) launched a new advocacy campaign, which is calling for the provincial government to better invest in early child care and education, as well as to address the need for affordable spaces."Basically we are just trying to raise awareness and let Albertans know where we stand as far as how much the government is investing in child care," said Lorinda Peel, PIA's Lethbridge Community Mobilizer."We're hoping that this information encourages Albertans to kind of speak out for a new public childhood education system and something that is more affordable, more accessible and better quality."PIA has released a fact sheet to coincide with the campaign.Among the highlights is a report the subsidy rate for low-income families is not keeping pace with the increased cost; the increase in the number of child care space in the past six years has not kept pace with the increase in the number of children less than six years old; and Alberta's per capita funding for children up to 12 years of age is the sixth lowest among Canadian provinces.It also says 50 per cent of child care spaces in the province are for-profit as there is no government support for expanding not-for-profit and public child care.Peel says, according to data from 2010, the Alberta government allocates $341 per space per child, well below the national average of $752 a year."It seems like it's about time for us to step up in this area," she said."With the increase in population and increasing demand for child care, it's something that should definitely be looked at sooner rather than later."In Lethbridge, Peel says, the issue has less to do with available space, although it remains a concern as well, but more to do with the quality of care."A lot of the people who are working within the child care system are not considered qualified professionals," she said, adding compensation needs to be improved to provide incentive for potential employees in the field."It's not a wage that would encourage somebody to actually get training or education to work in the sector. For government to even consider making the move, the citizens have to speak out first."PIA has also created a brochure outlining five points they want the government to improve on in the child care sector. It includes a section addressed to Premier Alison Redford."We're basically asking the government to put a little bit more direct funding into this sector and also make it a larger priority for them," Peel said."The importance of early child care and early learning is something that I really don't think should be undervalued."The brochure is viewable at pialberta.org.By Nick Kuhl, Lethbridge Herald
nkuhl@lethbridgeherald.comThis article was published in the Lethbridge Herald on December 5, 2012. Read the full article on the Lethbridge Herald website.