Understanding Daycare Regulations in Alberta

As more families find both parents working, the demand for Daycare has skyrocketed making it a high-demand facility in Alberta. More families needing Daycare facilities means a bigger market but opening a Daycare comes with a lot of responsibilities. So if you are planning to start your own Daycare facility, then your initial step should be understanding the Daycare regulations in Alberta that govern such establishments.
This article aims to be your guide in simple terms so that you can confidently start your journey of providing childcare services and make an informed decision.

Overview of Childcare Regulations in Alberta 

In 2021, the Daycare Regulation in Alberta saw a paradigm shift. The new regulations bring more transparency, increase quality and safety, and also give parents more information in hand so they can choose the best Child care facility for their children. 

The two main legislations that form the backbone of Daycare regulations are: 

  • Early Learning and Child Care Act- This act provides a guideline for the license, inspection, and monitoring standards of Daycare facilities.
  • Early Learning and Child Care Regulation- This regulation dives deep into the nuances and specific requirements that Daycare facilities must comply with like staffing requirements, child-staff ratio, and recordkeeping obligations, etc.

The other relevant legislation that forms part of the Daycare regulations are: 

  • Public Health Act- This act covers the standards for hygiene, sanitation, and disease prevention, which apply to Daycare facilities.
  • Institutions Regulation- This regulation discusses fire safety requirements and building codes that Daycare facilities must meet.
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act- This act sets standards for workplace hazards, equipment, and training. 

Types of Daycare Providers 

Before talking about these regulations it is important to know that Daycare providers could be of different types. Alberta Law recognizes two main categories of Daycare providers:- 

  1. Licensed providers
    • Facility-based childcare programs: These Daycare centers are designated facilities that care for groups of more than six children not including their own. Generally, facility-based providers would include preschools, Daycares, and out-of-school care programs. 
    • Home-based childcare programs: These are Daycare centers based out of private homes that care for a small group of six or less than six children. 
  2. Unlicensed Providers

This category covers mostly the informal arrangements of providing childcare. This includes individuals such as relatives, friends, or neighbours. These arrangements are not subject to the same regulations as the licensed ones and are not illegal. However, parents must practice caution while entering into such arrangements. 

Daycare Compliance and Regulations 

While this is not the exhaustive list but some of the specific and important requirements outlined in the Early Learning and Child Care Act and Regulation for becoming a licensed Daycare provider in Alberta are: 

  1. Application Requirements
    1. First, you will be required to fill out an application. This form will include all the information that an applicant will be required to enter such as applicant information and plan for the child care program. 
    2. Develop a program plan and determine the program’s administrative policies, staffing plan, type of child care you will provide, and other related policy forms that might be required to operate your Daycare. 
    3. Your next step is to obtain safety, health, and municipality certificates from appropriate authorities. This will include the completion of fire inspection and adhering to the Alberta Building and Health code. 
    4. As part of your program plan, you will also be required to provide premises measurements in order to determine the capacity of the facility. Additionally, there is also a requirement of minimum net floor area for play space which needs to be complied with and it is different for preschool, daycare and out-of-school programs. 
    5. Another important aspect that you will need to take care of is general liability insurance for all the occupants including staff, children, and volunteers. 
    6. If the applicant is a corporation, they must also submit their incorporation certificate. 
    7. To ensure the children’s safety you will also need to submit a current criminal record and vulnerable sector search of the individual applicant, corporate directors, corporate officers, and any other current staff who might have access to children or the ability to view a child’s records. 
    8. After submitting the application you must prepare your facility for inspection by the licensing staff. The licensing staff will inspect that your facility complies with health, safety, fire, municipal and zoning requirements. 
  2. Inspection Visits after issuance of License 

After the license is issued to the Daycare facility it is expected out of your facility to maintain compliance with the Early Learning and Child Care Act. The purpose of the inspection is same, after the license is issued you can expect at least two visits from the inspecting staff in the 12-month period. 

So make sure that you are in compliance all the time. During the inspection, the inspecting staff will check all your records, make observations, and speak with the program supervisors and the designated person in charge. 

  1. Staff Qualifications
    1. Staff Qualification and certification is one of the most important compliance requirements for a Daycare. Under the Early Learning and Child Care Act, any staff directly working with the children must be certified. There are 3 levels of certification for early childhood educators i.e. Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. 
    2. Now, as per the Act, there are certain specific staff requirements.
      1. A program supervisor who is a Level 3 certificate holder must be present in the facility when children are receiving the facility. 
      2. Between 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, a primary staff having a Level 2 certificate must be present. 
      3. At all other times, a Level 1 educator must be present. 
      4. Other than the above requirement for the staff, you should ensure that at least one out of four staff members involved in providing childcare must be Level 2 certified others can be Level 1 certified. 
  2. Reporting Incidents 

The Early Learning and Child Care list out certain incidents that must be reported to the licensing authority. Failure to submit this report will result in non-compliance. This report must be submitted within two days of the incident. These incidents are:

  1. Any emergency evacuation that had an impact on the health and safety of children (eg fire, flood, etc)
  2. An incident of an intruder entering the program premises. 
  3. Unexpected closure of the facility. 
  4. An accident or illness involving a child that needed immediate medical attention and required the program to call for emergency health care or required the child to stay at the hospital overnight. 
  5. A mistake on the part of the program staff or volunteer staff while providing medication that led to a serious injury or illness. 
  6. An incident of a missing child. 
  7. If any parent or guardian who doesn’t have custody takes the child out of the program. 
  8. In case of an allegation of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse of a child by a program staff or volunteer. 
  9. Any criminal offense commissioned by a child. 
  10. A child left on premises beyond the operating hours 
  11. Death of a child. 
  12. Other general important regulation 

After your application is approved you have certain responsibilities towards the licensing authority, parents, and children. Here are some of these important responsibilities that you need to fulfill. 

  1. Displaying the license at a prominent place at all times.
  2. Comply with the program plan that you submitted with your application.
  3. Ensure that child guidance used for the program is communicated to the parents. 
  4. Ensure that the furnishing and equipment used for play materials both indoors and outdoors are safe, and properly maintained throughout.
  5. A license-holder is always under the Duty to inform the parent. Ensure that you comply. 
  6. Always provide updated information to the licensing authority in writing and to the parents. 
  7. Notify the licensing authority about the change in ownership 15 days before such change.  
  8. The license holder must ensure that while providing meals and snacks such meals and snacks are in appropriate quantity with adequate nutrition. 
  9. Another important regulation to keep in mind is that at no point of time a Daycare facility be without a license i.e. in case of expiration of license make sure that you renew it before such expiration. 

Child safety is of paramount importance and that is the reason why a lot of emphasis is placed on complying with the rules and regulations for a Daycare. There is a high level of trust that a parent places in a Daycare facility, therefore the facility provider should act responsibly. Non-compliance with these regulations can lead to suspension and cancellation of your license, therefore make sure that you are complying with these regulations throughout the duration of the program. So make sure to comply with Daycare regulation from the start of the program to the end of the program. So if you are planning to start your own Daycare Facility Alberta reach out to Juriscorp Law‘s business lawyers to help you with all the nuances of your license application. 

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