Minister speaks at early learning conference

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Alberta’s Minister of Children’s Services (and Lesser Slave Lake MLA) Danielle Larivee was the keynote speaker at a conference on early childhood learning held on May 27 at Northern Lakes College in Slave Lake.
Larivee spoke about the 22 pilot programs around the province for $25-per-day child care is offered. The government’s plan is to develop it further if it finds out it works.
“Affordability is only one piece of this,” Larivee said. “The focus is on quality – the best possible start in life.”
The curriculum in the pilot projects is “play-based,” she said, and was developed at Grant MacEwan University.
Larivee also mentioned a child benefit that is available to families that earn less than $41,000 per year. It may be, she said, that some are eligible who aren’t getting it.
“It’s only triggered by filing taxes,” she said.
Larivee was asked some pointed questions about (for example) wage enhancements for childcare workers and tax breaks for those who buy supplies for the kids out of their own pockets. She didn’t have answers to those, but said she would look into it.
Larivee added that the government does recognize the value of what childcare workers do and desires to better recognize it.
“But I don’t have the details now,” she said.
Over 60 people attended the conference, hearing from 10 presenters. They came from Slave Lake, Wabasca Red Earth, Loon River, Valleyview, Grande Prairie, and High Prairie.
“The general consensus was that it was a great learning experience,” says Brenda Hannah, an early learning consultant with Supports to Early Learning and Child Care Programs Network, and “can’t wait to sign up for next year! ”

Pictured at the early childhood learning conference in Slave Lake on May 27 are (l. to r.) Christin Trofimenkoff of Stepping Stones Day Care Society, Brenda Hannah (Stepping Stones in Slave Lake), Minister Danielle Larivee, Marilyn Boisvert and Tara Dryden (Stepping Stones in Grande Prairie).

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