Public Interest Alberta survey outlines state of child care in province

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The child care and early learning task force of Public Interest Alberta released the results of their 2016 Alberta child care survey. Conducted between Aug. 29 and Oct. 7, the survey focused on cost for child care services, access for special needs children, waitlists for child care and training for child care staff.

 

Directed by Ryan MacIntyre, PIA member and We Did It founder, the six-week survey assessed the state of Alberta child care to determine the challenges families face with the child care sector. Of the 1,100 child care providers asked to participate, MacIntyre heard a response from 300 child care centres, day homes and after-school care program providers across the province.

 

The survey showed almost half of Alberta families pay $300 above subsidy and two-thirds of respondents said they felt the provincial subsidy rates were insufficient for low-income families.

 

Through his research, MacIntyre discovered half of the respondents had waitlists with the average number of children waiting for open child care spaces across each program was 59. MacIntyre also found nearly half of providers do not offer infant care, one-fifth are unable to support disabled children and one-third do not take children expelled from other programs.

 

Per the report, over one-third of caregivers had minimal training, with the 45-hour Child Development Assistant course their only training prior to employment. While 36 per cent had the minimum requirement, one in five had received the one-year Child Development Worker certificate and made up the smallest proportion of employees.

 

In addition, more than one-tenth of child care providers offered staff limited or no professional development workshops while some did not offer on-hand informative reading materials. However, two-thirds of providers offered on-site workshops or funding to attend workshops, while over one-third offered paid time to attend workshops or offered post-secondary courses.

 

When it comes to non-profit child care providers, MacIntyre learned the majority of care staff employed had received the highest level of training as Child Development Supervisors.

 

Over half of staff at non-profits had received this designation, while only 40 per cent of for-profit staff had been trained to the same level. Non-profits also provided more professional development opportunities than their for-profit counterparts, with only three per cent offering no form of professional development at all.

 

Out of the 300 daycares, day homes and after-school programs surveyed, 90 were from Calgary, 92 were from Edmonton and 136 were from smaller areas throughout the province.With MacIntyre’s research, We Did It can continue to meet the quality care standards Alberta families expect from their child care programs.

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