Early Childhood Services (ECS)
Early Childhood Services (ECS) includes options for educational programming for children as young as 2½ years old.
The School Act states that a board or an approved school authority may provide an ECS program to a child who is younger than 6 years of age as of September 1. Under Alberta Education Early Childhood Services policy 1.1.3, children identified with disabilities/delays are eligible for up to three years of ECS programming, depending on age, severity of the disability/delay and its impact on the child’s ability to function within an ECS environment. Standards for the Provision of Early Childhood Special Education applies to children who meet the eligibility criteria for special education programming.
Program Unit Funding (PUF) which is in addition to Base Instruction Funding is available to approved ECS operators for young children from 2½ to age 6. These children have been assessed with a severe disability/delay.
Funding for children with mild to moderate disabilities/delays and those who are gifted and talented is provided in addition to the Base Instruction funding. Children who meet the coding criteria must be at least 3½ years and less than 6 years of age on September 1.
Kindergarten is a program that not only helps prepare children for entry into Grade 1, but also provides a foundation for later success. The purpose of Kindergarten is to provide learning experiences that are developmentally appropriate in order to meet the diverse needs of children and promote a positive attitude toward lifelong learning. A child whose developmental needs have been met is more likely to grow into a self-reliant, responsible, caring and contributing member of society. Funding is provided for the child to attend Kindergarten for 475 hours in one year.
The decision to offer full-day or junior Kindergarten programs within a community is the decision of the local school authority, which has maximum flexibility to use their funds in whatever manner they choose.