Alberta parents desperate for affordable child care solution

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Alberta parents desperate for affordable childcare solution
WATCH: As the deadline to sign the new affordable childcare plan approaches,Global News received a list from two dozen parents with kids in various daycares across Alberta, raising concerns about their childcare operators saying they’ve opted out of the agreement due to high operating costs. As Jaclyn Kucey reports, parents are desperate for a solution. – Jan 15, 2024

Daycares are a place where children, learn, grow and have full care, while parents work to pay for their futures.

“We picked our daycare prior to all the affordability stuff happening and we picked them because we liked what they had to offer, and thinking they might have to reduce some of their offerings is concerning. It’s not what we signed up for,” said Tyler Waldron, one of around 25 parents that contacted Global News with growing concerns that their daycare operator won’t resign the provincial affordable child care agreement.

“It makes me very sad and very upset to know that if they were to have to either cut their programming, cut their teachers, even close like that, that’s not , because we need them. I need them in them every day,” said Jessica Koyata, another concerned parent.

“Especially if you’re daycare is opting to wait to decide whether they want to or not, how much is my employer going to like it if I walk in on Jan. 31st saying, ‘Guess what, I can’t be here tomorrow because I don’t have care for my kid,’ and, ‘Sorry I’m not giving you two weeks notice because I don’t have a choice’,” said Waldron.

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Alberta government taking steps to create more private child-care spaces

Minister of Children and Family Services Searle Turton believes the agreement will be supported.

“I’m fully expecting that most operators will be signing on just due to the many positive benefits that they’re realizing that there is being part of this agreement,” said Turton.

“Many of the private business that I’ve talked with have found ways to get around some of those funding shortfalls.”

Turton explained what we’re seeing right now is an interim part of the agreement.

“This is just part of the transformative changes that we’re taking as we get to the final product,” Turton said. “We do have to adhere to the actual agreement and there are some firm conditions in there that we agreed to with the federal government.

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“My number one goal is to make sure that parents are protected.”

Click to play video: 'How is Canada doing in its plan to create $10/day childcare spaces?'
How is Canada doing in its plan to create $10/day childcare spaces?

Waldron and his wife pay a total of $230 for their child per month while on the subsidy program that takes off about $120 a month. If his provider doesn’t sign, he says the subsidy will not come through.

“That would bump us up to about $970 a month for one kid,” said Waldron.

On top of that, waitlists are mounting to around 400 kids in Lethbridge.

“We won’t be making do, we won’t have a daycare centre for our kid and there won’t one be available,” said Waldron. “Otherwise, I’m working to pay more for my daycare than what I’m making or I forgo the income.”

Caitlin Slavens, registered psychologist and co-founder of Mama Psychologists, specializes in maternal mental health. Slavens said on the mental health side of this decision, parents are struggling with the unknown with what’s to come.

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“This has a lot of impact for parents and children with increased anxiety, increased stress, financial struggles,” said Slavens.

On Monday, the province released an online survey inviting parents to share their thoughts on services they expect from child-care operators.

The survey runs until Feb. 11th. The deadline for operators to sign onto the new affordable child care agreement is Jan. 31st.

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