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Childcare pilot program having impact in southern Alberta: childcare centre

A closer look at how $25-a-day childcare is faring in southern Alberta
WATCH: Alberta's $25-a-day childcare pilot program has been up and running for almost a year. Malika Karim reports on how the program is being received in Lethbridge.

Alberta’s $25-a-day childcare pilot program has been up and running for almost a year.

In April 2017, the province announced Phase 1 of the Early Learning and Child Care Centres (ELCC) pilot program, offering fully subsidized childcare or capping fees at $25 a day at 22 centres across Alberta.

Two months later, the federal government committed to help fund the ELCC program to help it expand it to 78 more centres.

Read more: 4,500 more Alberta kids to get $25-a-day child care

Single-income earners like Jocelyn Davis, are just some of the Lethbridge residents benefiting from the childcare subsidy program.

“It really relieved a lot of stress,” Davis said on Thursday. “It’s something that as a working mom, you have to make that payment, because if I don’t have it, then I can’t work… if I can’t work, then I can’t provide for my family.”

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The Opokaa’sin Early Intervention Society is the only centre in Lethbridge currently offering the government subsidized program.

“Amazing centre, providing incredible care to the children,” Danielle Larivee, minister of Children’s Services, said on Thursday. “[We’re] excited to support them but hoping to be able to expand it broadly across southern Alberta.”

Alberta’s NDP government is looking to have 100 centres in communities across the province, saying 13 more centres in southern Alberta have applied to be part of the ELCC pilot.

And the numbers would seem to show the new centres are needed.

“We’re already at capacity, we have waitlists for all our programs,” said Opokaa’sin director Tanya Pace-Crosschild. “So it really speaks to the need of our community in terms of children’s services and what we need in the province.”

Pace-Crosschild says the subsidies have lowered monthly costs significantly for parents, taking the average cost for daycare services in southern Alberta from $1,000 a month to, at most, $500 a month with the ELCC program.