Please join us welcoming guest blogger, Julie Hrdlicka. Julie represents Public Interest Alberta (PIA) on the Women’s Centre’s Social Issues Committee. PIA is a provincial advocacy organization working to protect public spaces and a strong public sector. PIA recently launched a childcare campaign and is calling for affordable, quality, publicly-funded childcare, accessible to all families in Alberta.
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In August of last year, I was scrambling to find affordable childcare for my two kids Hendrix, 3 and Scarlett, 1. I had been juggling working from home part-time, without childcare for six months, and I had hit my limit. My partner and I decided we had to make childcare a priority for our family and more importantly, for my sanity. We were already financially stretched, but we managed to scrape the money together to make it happen.
After looking around for a few weeks we could find no available licensed, accredited spaces anywhere near us. So we felt we were lucky when we finally came across space in a private unlicensed day home, which was recommended by a friend.
The kids were going part-time and they loved it. I loved that I had time to work. It also gave me the much needed freedom from wiping tears and bottoms for a few hours a week.
At the end of the first month, the childcare provider sent me an email saying she could no longer take my children. One of her long time families wanted more time, therefore we were being bumped. Just like that. We were scrambling…again.
Thousands of Albertan families, especially low-income families are finding it more and more difficult to find affordable, quality, childcare.
There IS a link between lack of access to childcare and child poverty.
In the last election, Premier Redford committed to end child poverty in Alberta in five years. The result of the 2012 Social Policy Framework, a six-month public consultation process, found that Albertans believe child poverty is our number one issue.
This is all important information, but we must also recognize a child living in poverty is coming from a family living in poverty. There are many obstacles for families to get out of poverty and one of them is access to childcare.
Through our recent research at PIA, we have found:
- For children 0-12 years old, Alberta’s per capita funding is the sixth lowest of all provinces.
- The increase in the number of childcare spaces over the past six years has not kept pace with the increase in the number of children under the age of six. The number of preschool children with a mother in the work force who did not have access to licensed childcare went from 69,368 in 2004 to 87,281 in 2010 (62% of all preschool children with working mothers).
- The subsidy rate for low-income families is not keeping pace with the increased costs of childcare so many low-income families cannot afford to put their children in licensed care.
- 50% of all childcare spaces in Alberta are for-profit as there is no government support for expanding not-for-profit and public childcare.
- Develop a provincial framework for Early Childhood Education Learning and Care.
- Recognize and support our children’s mentors and caregivers as professionals.
- Make early learning and care available for all.
- Support families with different needs.
- Keep childcare public/non-profit.
If we are truly committed to ending child poverty, then it is time to make the decisions and take the action to get us there. Creating affordable, quality publicly-funded childcare, accessible for all Albertans will move us in the right direction…because ALL our kids are worth it!
Calgary Outreach Coordinator
Public Interest Alberta
To learn more about this campaign, please contact Public Interest Alberta.
For more information on the Women’s Centre’s Social Issues Committee, please contact Leah at 403-264-1155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.