With the Child Care Licensing Regulation set to expire early next year, the Alberta government says it is set to start consultations with stakeholders to improve the quality of child care in the province while also making it safer.
In a news release issued on Monday, the government said it will engage with parents and early childhood educators on the issue, and also seek to reduce “red tape” in the sector.
The government said Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard will lead the consultation process after which stakeholder input will be used to help guide regulations and legisltation in the fall.
“I know how important child care is for families and how challenging it can be to find the right option,” Allard said in a news release.
“I firmly believe the best way to improve any organization or system is to hear directly from the people involved.”
Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz said she hopes that public input will help her government make child care “a more streamlined, easy-to-navigate system that ensures parents and families have access to high-quality, safe and accessible child care choices.”
The government said consultations will involve “virtual table talk sessions” with child care operators and industry associations and an online survey that will be launched next week.
The survey, which will be available at alberta.ca, can be filled out by parents, early childhood educators and operators.
The government said it tailored its consultation methods to allow for social distancing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, the government announced that in order to reduce red tape, it was scrapping a child care accreditation funding program that ran parallel to the province’s licensing program. At the time, the government said that although the program is ending, wage top-ups will remain for licensed programs.
On Monday, the government said that launching consultations will allow it “to enshrine principles of quality child care within legislation, rather than through the previous system of accreditation.”
According to the government, 105,300 of 726,200 children age 12 and under in Alberta are enrolled in regulated child care spaces. In total, there are over 2,900 active licensed or approved programs with more than 138,000 child care spaces across the province.
The Child Care Licensing Regulation is set to expire on Jan. 31, 2021.