Alberta has inked a deal with the Federal Government to bring a national $10 a day childcare program to Alberta families.

While some are worried about the impact this could have on the quality of care and unlicensed day-homes, Executive Director for High River's Daydreams Early Learning and Child Care Centre says it's a positive any way you look at it.

"This is what child care providers have been waiting for." She exclaims "Everybody has been hanging on and a lot of centres that I'm aware of have been hanging on by a thread. We don't want to lose or bleed any more educators out of this province and as far as for the families, many of the families we've heard from here at our centre, they're ecstatic."

Unlicensed day homes are not included in the programming, leading to criticism, but Morris says there is nothing stopping those providers from taking advantage and becoming licensed themselves.

"Unlicensed or unregistered day homes are not under this as they choose not to become licensed." She says "licensing ensures accountability and training (certification). They will probably still operate however the hope is they choose to access this funding by becoming licensed or regulated."

While some may choose to close down over becoming licensed, Morris says there are positives to becoming registered.

"Some find government requirements on any level too much and don’t want to be bothered while some may not be doing great practices and as such don’t want to be told what good practice is." Alternatively, she says "they would get access to training, and of course funds so that parents can access subsidy and lower fees mean more children in care."

As a pilot centre for the previous NDP Government-subsidized daycare program, Morris says they have seen firsthand how this impacts families and the economy as a whole.

"It's huge... We knew the impact of having that extra money in the pockets of parents so they can now put that money into food, and rent or mortgages, or clothing for their kids, whatever it may be. Having that decision-making ability with more money in your pockets means you're going to spend more money elsewhere in the community."

Morris says she agrees with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland's comments, that this program goes farther than families.

"It's not just early learning and child care. The impacts are really in the infrastructure. This program will allow businesses to hire, it allows companies to expand, and parents knowing that their children are in a care centre of quality, can return to the work force, pay taxes and they can make the best decisions on which centres they want their children to attend, not solely based on the cost of care, instead, they can find something based on environment, proximity to their home and spaces available."

While thrilled with the bulk of the program, Morris is questioning whether or not out-of-school care will be included, as current details state that the subsidy will cover children from infancy to kindergarten.

Morris also explains that families will notice a difference in their bills almost immediately.

"The timeline has been moved up for Alberta, because across Canada when the information was originally given by the Federal Government it was 'by the end of 2022 all centres must be on an average of 50% of what their daily cost of care is.' Now that's moved up to January, which is only months away and that's huge. That means for us in our centre, the average cost to the parents will essentially be reduced to $25 per day, for everyone."

From a business perspective, she says now she can take advantage of new grants through the same program.

"Behind the $25 dollars per day that we will reduce our cost to, there are grants that will be available for educators. So they talked about in the announcement have a new pay grid for all educators, for each level one, level two and level three." She adds "That's going to be huge because educators will know what they are going to be paid before they even apply for a job, which is beautiful because now centres that are struggling can pay their educators more than $15 per hour which is what many are getting paid now."

The majority of early childcare educators are women, and Morris says even at the highest level of certification they are not currently making what they deserve, which is a problem solved under the new structure.

She says another positive is money will be available to centres for educators to help children with additional needs, which includes hiring more educators for one on one support if a child should need it.

"This means we can hire more educators, above and beyond our ratios so we can take care of children who may need one on one care. Recently, children's emotions and mental health is a huge piece. Now we can hire staff that is trained to offer this support, or train them in-house and have that paid for as part of supporting that child and family."

It's a celebration that Morris says she's been waiting for.

"This is something in my career that I have been waiting for and advocating for over years." She says full of emotion "There was talk of this back in 1994, and it's been in the making for that long, so this is truly a historic moment for us!"


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