Ask the Childcare Expert – Tammy Cole
The search for child care can be overwhelming for parents. Choosing a child care program that meets your family and child’s needs is an important decision. Approved family day home agencies understand and respect that where a parent chooses to place their child for child care is one of the most important decisions a parent will make.
So why go through an agency for child care? Approved agencies can offer parents peace of mind. They operate under contract with Alberta Human Services to recruit, screen, train and monitor family day home providers for compliance to the Family Day Home Standards for Alberta. Approved family day home providers complete a comprehensive screening process and are chosen for their knowledge, skills, love for children and their ability to meet the high demands of an approved agency to ensure children and families are receiving the best care possible.
Many approved family day home providers hold certificates and or diplomas in Early Learning and Child Care or hold degrees in fields such as Education, Psychology, and Social Work. Approved providers are NOT babysitters. They are early learning and child care professionals who provide quality child care to a limited number of children in a home environment where each child’s development is nurtured and respected through play based learning experiences. Each provider plans for daily experiences based on the individual needs, interests and abilities of the children in care.
Most agencies in Alberta are now also accredited. What does this mean for parents? This means the agency and its providers have volunteered to be held accountable to a higher level of child care standards. Accreditation standards are based on current research and leading practices focusing on outcomes related to children, staff, families, and communities. The accreditation agency (AELCS) conducts an onsite assessment to collect evidence, interview staff and complete observations in individual family day homes to validate whether the program has met the accreditation standards of excellence. It’s important to know that when a provider contracts with an agency she/he is agreeing to agency staff, Child and Family Services (CFS) staff, and if the agency is accredited, accreditation validators arriving unannounced to the home for inspection visits at any time during the providers operating hours.
Approved agencies facilitate an intake process with parents that supports parents in choosing a family day home. Parents are asked a variety of questions regarding their individual child care needs. This process assists the agency with determining suitable provider referrals. Parents are always given the opportunity to interview the potential provider(s) to choose which home best meets their family’s needs.
With an approved agency parents may apply and qualify for financial assistance with child care fees through the Child Care Subsidy Program. An additional subsidy may be available for parents who work non-traditional hours and require extended hours of child care.