Early Childhood Services (ECS)

Raising Children from 0 to 6 yearsThe Early Years 

Lifelong learning starts the moment we are born. The first six years of our lives are a time of unparalleled discovery. We learn about ourselves and the world around us. Our personalities take shape and we begin to lay the foundation of knowledge that will support us as we enter the education system. Recognizing this, Alberta Education is committed to exploring options that provide children with access to early learning opportunities.

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.

For further information on funding and Early Childhood Services , please see the Early Childhood Services Fact Sheets and the Funding Manual

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.


  • NEW VIDEO! Helping children get the best start in life: Opokaa’sin Early Intervention Society
  • My Child’s Learning: a Parent Resource provides a summary of what students are expected to learn and be able to do - designed specifically for parents.
  • TELUS 2 Learn Telecollaborative Learning Projects: Early Literacy Telecollaborative Projects
  • Parent Link Centres – in addition to the Early Childhood Services offered by Alberta Education, Children and Youth Services supports 46 parent link centres across the province that are specifically designed to support parents and their children up to the age of 6 years.  At a parent Link Centre in their community, parents can access information about community services, obtain referrals, meet other parents and families, and take part in quality learning activities with their children. There is also a virtual parent link centre for parenting information and resources.
  • In Alberta, Human Services sets the standards for licensed day cares, pre-schools and out-of-school care programs. These standards safeguard the health and well-being of the children these facilities service. Children and Youth Services also offers subsidies to help eligible low- and middle income parents with the costs of licensed and approved child care.
  • Alberta Health and Wellness provides information on helping children to grow up healthy. This includes pre-school growth and development resources, immunization schedules, speech and language milestones and food and nutrition information.