Alberta Child Care Accreditation
Accreditation promotes excellence in child care settings in Alberta and helps families choose the best care for their children. It is based on standards of excellence that reflect current research and leading practices to provide high quality child care over and above licensing regulations for children from birth to 12 years of age.
Accreditation is available to all licensed day care centres and out-of-school care programs as well as approved family day home agencies in Alberta. Participation in accreditation is voluntary.
Accreditation standards were developed by Human Services in consultation with the child care field and key stakeholders. The standards are above and beyond the licensing requirements (for day care and out-of-school care programs) and the provincial family day home standards (for family day home agencies), and focus on outcomes for children, families, staff and community to support children’s optimal early learning and development.
Accreditation Standards were reviewed through research and Provincial consultations in 2011-2012 to ensure they reflect the current research and leading practices in child care. Based on the review results and feedback received, Accreditation Standards incorporated a number of enhancements and were aligned to streamline the accreditation process in 2013.
Alberta Child Care Accreditation Evaluation and Scoring FrameworkThe Alberta Child Care Accreditation Evaluation and Scoring Framework set out the evaluation process that is used by the accrediting agency as a result of on-site assessments to determine the accreditation status of participating child care programs. The accrediting agency utilizes this Framework to develop tools and processes to effectively measure whether a child care program has met the accreditation standards, criteria and indicators based on the consistency of evidence collected during an on-site evaluation.
Accredited Child Care Programs
Accredited programs have completed a rigorous self-evaluation and quality enhancement process, and have been recognized by the Association for Accreditation of Early Learning and Care Services (AELCS) as meeting the accreditation standards of excellence.
Programs that have achieved accreditation status are issued a certificate, which is valid for a term of three years with an annual administrative review.
- Have committed to meet the accreditation standards at all times;
- Continue to work on quality improvement in accordance with the strategies set in their Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP);
- Undergo annual reviews through submission of evidence to AELCS; and
- Are subject to unannounced status verification visits.
To find out which child care programs in Alberta are accredited, you can use:
- Child Care Lookup tool on Human Services website, or
- Accredited Program Search tool on AELCS’ website.
Accreditation Process and FundingAccreditation consists of two interconnected elements that have separate application processes:
- Accreditation Process – number of steps through which child care programs become accredited and maintain their accreditation status. It is administered by the Alberta Association for Accreditation of Early Learning and Care Services (AELCS).
- Accreditation Funding – financial supports available to accredited child care programs and programs working towards accreditation. Funding is administered by the Early Childhood Development Branch, Human Services under the Child Care Accreditation Funding Program.
Participation in accreditation means going through the steps of the accreditation evaluation process. Each step is briefly described below. For more information related to accreditation process visit the accreditation agency’s website at www.aelcs.ca.
Enrolling in Accreditation
Accreditation begins when a child care program applies to accreditation agency (AELCS) and receives access to accreditation guides and other related materials.
Self-Evaluation and Quality Enhancement
Quality enhancement process starts with a self-evaluation activity where a child care program assesses its service quality, develops a quality enhancement plan, sets short-term, intermediate and long-term goals and timelines, and collects evidence to demonstrate during an on-site assessment (site visit) how the accreditation standards are met.
Each accredited program is expected to maintain the achieved level of service quality and work on its continuous improvement guided by strategies set in their quality enhancement plan. Accredited programs undergo annual accreditation reviews through a paper submission and a re-accreditation process every three years to maintain their accredited status.
The Alberta Association for the Accreditation of Early Learning and Care Services (AELCS) is an independent agency contracted by Human Services that enrolls child care programs in accreditation evaluation process, provides orientation and access to accreditation materials and validates programs’ ability to meet accreditation standards through an on-site assessment (site visit).
For more information on accreditation evaluation contact AELCS directly at 780‑421‑9222 in Edmonton), 1‑877‑552‑2227 (toll free) or visit the agency’s website at www.aelcs.ca.
Accreditation Coaching Support
Technical (coaching) support may be available at no cost to programs preparing for their initial accreditation site visit as well as accredited programs that are preparing for re-accreditation process based on the aligned accreditation standards through the Alberta Resource Centre for Quality Enhancement (ARCQE).
ARCQE is a contracted agency to assist programs to achieve best practices in early learning and care and help child care programs during the accreditation evaluation process. Through ongoing needs assessment and quality enhancement resources (such as workshops, in-service training opportunities, policy templates, resource materials and information on child development and best practice), child care programs are better prepared to provide higher quality services and meet accreditation standards.
For more details, contact ARCQE directly at 1‑866‑429‑4930 (toll free) or visit the agency’s website at www.arcqe.ca.
Programs enrolled in accreditation can apply for funding to support the recruitment and retention of qualified staff. This funding includes:
- Staff wage top-ups (up to $6.62/hour);
- Professional development grants of up to $1,000 per staff member annually; and
- Recruitment and retention initiatives (up to $5,000).
Detailed information about funding eligibility is described in accreditation funding guides and is contingent on a program’s accreditation status and standing with the accreditation agency’s process requirements.