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Alberta daycares continue to navigate pandemic as restrictions ease

Click to play video 'More funding, support needed for Alberta child care centres amid pandemic: education organization' More funding, support needed for Alberta child care centres amid pandemic: education organization
WATCH: The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta said while some daycares have reopened their doors, many are still figuring out how best to proceed during the pandemic. As Tracy Nagai reports, the AECEA believes daycares will need more funding and support to stay afloat.

While daycares in Alberta were given the green light to reopen on Thursday, not all child care centres are ready to welcome back children and their families.

I think it’s been a really challenging time for programs,” said Jennifer Usher with the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta (AECEA).

A lot of places I spoke to are actually waiting until June 1 to reopen.”

Daycares and out-of-school care are among the businesses allowed to reopen as part of the province’s Stage 1 relaunch strategy but now there’s a long list of guidelines daycare operators must follow.

I do know that centres are struggling financially right now,” Usher said. “They could require more support in terms of covering the cost of some of the sanitization requirements that are in place, and that includes staff as well.”

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READ MORE: Alberta offers grants to child care centres, day homes to prepare for relaunch

On May 6, the province announced nearly $18 million in funding for child care centres through a phased approach.

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Facilities could receive an immediate, one-time grant to cover up to 25 per cent of overhead costs like rent and utilities.

In Phase 2, the province said a total of $3.2 million would be made available to child care sites for cleaning and sanitation supplies after they’ve reopened.

READ MORE: Essential services daycare provides hope for Alberta child care services looking to reopen

Despite the fresh injection of cash, Usher believes more needs to be done.

“When you look at the guidelines and see how much sanitization has to happen, they really do need additional staff funding.”

In a statement to Global News, Lauren Armstrong, the press secretary for the minister of Children’s Services said child care is important to the province’s economic recovery and that the province has reallocated funding in order to support the industry.

“The nearly $18-million funding announcement responded to an ask directly from the sector, including AECEA, to have the funding that would normally go to wage top-up and subsidy, redirected to them,” Armstrong said.

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READ MORE: Alberta allows outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people with physical distancing

“With respect to longer term support for the sector, we are currently negotiating a new bilateral funding agreement with the federal government and intend to conduct consultations next month on the Child Care Licensing Act.”