Some parents in St. Albert are catching a break when it comes to daycare costs. Two facilities in the city are now offering $25-a-day childcare.
On April 27 the YMCA Citadel Child Care Centre and the Centre d’Experience Prescolaire were both added to a roster of non-profit daycares across the province to be part of a three-year pilot project funded by the government of Alberta.
Shandrie Lewis said she was excited that she was one of the lucky parents in St. Albert who now pay half of what they used to. Prior to the changes one day of childcare at each facility cost around $55.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was calling some of the other moms who are in the daycare as well, just trying to make sure we read it right,” she said.
Lewis said she was paying over $2,000 per month to send two of her children to daycare. Both children are enrolled at the YMCA.
As a single mother who works full time, daycare was an extra stressful cost.
“It’s not cheap,” she said. “This means I can put that money towards the mortgage or other things for them and not feel so tapped.”
Kieley Beaudry, who also sends two of her children to the same day care, said the new cost will help alleviate some of the financial burden felt in her household as well.
She said her oldest child, who is not enrolled in the facility, has cystic fibrosis. This means a lot of medical appointments, making the daycare necessary for her two other children.
“As you can imagine trying to go to four- and five-hour appointments with a three- and a two-year-old along with her is difficult,” she said. “It’s stressful to pay for daycare, but for us it was peace of mind.”
Centre d’Experience Prescolaire and YMCA Citadel Child Care Centre were among 100 daycares selected as an expansion of the province’s child care pilot project. The expansion is a bilateral agreement between the Alberta government and the federal government.
Over the next three years the Government of Canada will invest $136 million towards Alberta’s affordable childcare program.
The NDP government will invest $4.5 million, in addition to the $10 million that was announced last year.
As part of the announcement the YMCA Citadel Child Care Centre received $408,359 to support 51 Early Learning and Child Care spaces and the Centre d’Experience Prescolaire St. Albert received $188,486 to support 16 spaces at the Centre d’Experience Prescolaire St. Albert.
Mireille Peloquin, director of the Francophone Parents Federation of Alberta that oversees the Centre d’Experience Prescolaire, said she was excited when the daycare was chosen as one of the centres that would receive funding.
“The daycare is so important for francophones. It’s key for children when they’re in those early stages of language acquisition to learn to speak French,” she said.
Nick Parkinson, president and CEO of the YMCA Citadel Child Care Centre, said before being chosen for the pilot project parents who couldn’t afford daycare at the YMCA could apply through the government for subsidy.
St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud said in a phone interview that while the subsidy helped, she felt that the program is better in the long run.
“The cost is different with the subsidy. As well, there are limits to the subsidy wherever the threshold is drawn,” she said. “Sometimes that threshold, although seems reasonable, it still makes it really difficult for families.”
In order to participate in the program daycares had to submit an application. Peloquin said part of the application specified that only non-profit daycares were eligible.
She said for-profit facilities had an option on the application to commit to becoming a non-profit.
“It stated … if you committed to converting to a non-profit that you could submit,” Peloquin said.
Marie Renaud said in a phone interview that she wasn’t aware of the specifications at the time, but later confirmed by text that only non-profits could apply.
She said the facilities were most likely chosen because they were prepared to add, or already had established, Early Learning and Child Care Spaces.
“I think if we can continue to expand this and extend this, it gives families more choices,” she said.