EDMONTON - In response to the announcement of the expansion of for-profit child care under the $10-a-day child care framework agreement, child care advocacy organizations Child Care Now Alberta and Public Interest Alberta are raising concerns that the framework sacrifices quality in the system.
“Albertans are feeling the squeeze from the rampant affordability crisis,” said Susan Cake, Chair of Child Care Now Alberta. “It makes sense that any announcement that means a reduction in the often-astronomical costs of child care is a welcome one. However, the devil is in the details and we are concerned that this framework will have long-term implications for workers in the child care sector and for the quality of the care that children receive.”
“Plainly, we do not have the workforce necessary for the expansion of child care spaces,” added Cake. “So while it could be great that we will have 20,000 more spaces for children in Alberta, we need a concrete plan to staff these spaces. We need a plan to educate more Early Childhood Educators and we need a wage grid, inclusive of pensions and benefits, to ensure fair compensation across the province.”
“Quite frankly, we’re disappointed in the expansion of the agreement to for-profit centres at all,” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “All child care spaces in our province should be non-profit. Profits have no place in care.”
The advocacy groups raised concerns that the cost-control framework incentivizes the creation of tiers of care, and will lead to lower-income families receiving basic care while higher-income families will be able to access quality programming.
“The framework does not specify what are “core” operations and what are “enhanced” services," said Lafortune. “It’s left up to the operators to decide. Additional parental fees for “enhanced” services will be optional, however, demand for child care still outstrips supply of spaces. This could lead to some providers only accepting families who are able to pay the “enhanced” service fees.”
“Every family in Alberta that needs it should be able to access high-quality child care, regardless of their ability to pay” said Lafortune. “This is a move in the opposite direction. We don’t want to see tiered care that pushes some families out. We can’t make quality optional.”