Day homes thankful to hear Smith won’t opt out of child care plan

There was a huge sigh of relief when Danielle Smith posted on Facebook she would not be terminating the Alberta-Canada Early Learning and Child Care agreement, which provides $10-a-day childcare to eligible families.

“The affordability grant has been a huge blessing for many families that have been able to access it,” said Karmin Emerson, assistant coordinator for Apple Blossom Day Homes.”It’s the agency’s hope that parents will continue to benefit from the reduced child-care fees but also that we will see new spaces open in the future.”

Spaces fill up quickly and the demand for care is more than can be accommodated by Apple Blossom, who licence day homes in Medicine Hat, Redcliff, Seven Persons, Brooks and Duchess. There are about 45 day homes presently operating, which care for 285 children.

Some homes offer extended hours on evenings and weekends. However, those spaces are few and far between and even more difficult to secure than regular weekday hours.

“The clients we typically get enrolled in our program need care so they can go to work,” said Emerson. “They would find a program that is a good fit for their family and that is where they bring their child.”

A minimum of 50 hours of child care per month is required to qualify for a part-time affordability grant. A full-time grant is available for parents who need 100 hours or more of child care per month. Emerson explained the affordability grant comes automatically and is a subsidy that is dependent on family income.

“When we heard (the program might be terminated) we kind of panicked because that is going to be detrimental to so many families,” Emerson said. “As of four hours ago (on Oct. 31) she said she (Premier Smith) was not opting out.”

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News