Only opening last year, francophone daycare Les petits Explorateurs stands as the only $25 a day childcare facility in Lloydminster. After the Alberta government announced to expand their pilot project for affordable childcare, Lloydminster’s only francophone daycare was lucky enough to be chosen.
Tash Patterson, program coordinator and early childhood educator with the daycare, says their daycare got lucky. The process to be subsidized involved an application process and not all childcare programs were accepted.
“We wanted to be able to offer affordable childcare, so we put in that application. We were just lucky enough to be accepted for it,” says Patterson.
She adds that they would have liked to open even without being accepted into the program. Without help from the Alberta government, Patterson says that childcare rates could go for $800-$900 per month. She says that right now, those price points are normal, but she’d like to see more affordable childcare.
“Really our hope is that Alberta is able to do what they want to do and that multiple daycares can offer it. Because we need everybody to have access to affordable childcare.”
Patterson says that even with two incomes, it can be hard to afford childcare. Even then, with two parents working full-time, she says that quality childcare is important and advocates for keeping it accessible.
“You really should be able to have affordable childcare, quality childcare, be able to pursue your career, and afford your child to go to a quality daycare or preschool program. Why should you have to choose between the two? You should be able to do both.”
Alberta is up for an election this spring, and the government might change. Patterson says that she’s not too worried about the program being cancelled and hopes that any new government sees the value in affordable childcare.
“I would think they would see the importance of continuing a program like that. Especially since they have started it not only in our daycare but quite a few other daycares across the province.”
Les petits Explorateurs gives priority to francophone and francophone heritage families but also accepts non-francophone given the size of Lloydminster’s francophone community. Patterson says they just like to see families realize the benefits of bilingual education.
“Even if the parents speak English, we like to see that they acknowledge and are passionate about the benefits of their children learning French. Especially in Canada, it is an officially bilingual country. We just like to see that passion.”