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Alberta government to axe child care accreditation program

Alberta government ditches early child care accreditation process
WATCH: Alberta’s early child care accreditation process will be scrapped April 1st. As Tomasia DaSilva reports some are concerned that will lead to lower standards and quality of child care.

The UCP is ditching a child care accreditation system that ran parallel to the province’s licensing program.

The child care accreditation funding program, which launched in 2004, will end April 1, 2020.

Having the accreditation previously tied in with whether centres could receive government-funded wage top-ups for workers, but the Alberta government said that while the program is ending, the wage top-ups will remain for licensed programs.

“This was a duplicate program over and above basic licensing,” Minister of Children’s Services Rebecca Schulz said Monday.

“More than 95 per cent of the licensed centres in Alberta were also accredited,” she said.

“It was no longer the measure of quality and safety that it once was.”

READ MORE: Alberta government warns childcare programs will lose grants in spring

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The government said the main reason for making the change was to reduce red tape. It said in a news release that the process caused workers to spend “hundreds of hours on paperwork rather than focusing on care for children.”

The government said the decision will save $3 million in administrative costs around the accreditation process.

Schulz also said the decision was made after consulting with child care providers around the province.

“When asking Albertans, but also child care operators and child care workers, what had the biggest impact on quality [of child care] — ultimately it was the wage top-ups,” Schulz said.
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LISTEN: Nicki Dublenko talks about the decision to axe the provincial child care accreditation process

However, the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta said it is concerned that it was not part of the consultation process.

“[Not being consulted] is really surprising,” said Nicki Dublenko, the vice chair of the association. “We are a key stakeholder — we have over 1,000 members, people working [the] front lines in this field.
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“The problem is, you shouldn’t be making sweeping changes to a whole child care system based on a handful of conversations that she’s [Schulz is] having with individuals and individual programs,” Dublenko said.

Dublenko added that licensing currently covers the “bare minimums” around safety and supervision for centres.

READ MORE: Lack of before-, after-school spaces in Alberta: child care experts

The UCP will be reviewing the Child Care Licensing Act later this year, and said it would take the accreditation changes into consideration during that review.