The United Way’s UpStart initiative has been working with the Muttart Foundation and Success by 6 in Edmonton to facilitate a province-wide discussion on the need for an early learning and care agenda in Alberta.
Early learning and care focuses on children 0 to 6 and encompasses services and supports that include both physical care and education. An early learning and care agenda takes into account how these services and supports link with other key services and supports, such as out-of-school care, parental leaves, community public health services and family resource programs that children attend with parents.
Currently only Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and British Columbia are implementing components of an early learning and care agenda, and a fully integrated system of early learning and care can only be found in the Nordic countries of the European Union.
Based on the ongoing research and the relationship that UpStart, Muttart, and Success by 6 have with our current government, we were approached and subsequently given funding to gather feedback for the development of an early learning and care provincial framework.
On November 15, over 60 stakeholders from the Calgary area and representatives from the Ministry of Education and school boards came to together to discuss and provide feedback on research that has been completed to date.
Participants explored key themes for consideration in the development of a provincial framework such as how would – or should – an early learning and care agenda be governed? What would be the best structure? Who should be held accountable? How should it be financed? How should the services be organized and who should manage these services?
More meetings are happening around the province this month, and will go a long way toward informing the development of an early learning and care framework for Alberta. This framework will ultimately be an integral component of the much-anticipated Social Policy Framework which is currently being developed for Alberta.
—Casey Boodt is a senior evaluator with the UpStart Initiative