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    Expansion of Aboriginal Head Start in BC 2021

About AHS

Funding Opportunity

Is your Indigenous organization interested in transforming your existing urban childcare services to a no-fee, culturally based, Aboriginal Head Start program?  

BC Budget 2021 supports reconciliation with new investments supporting the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples and communities. This funding will convert 400 urban and on-reserve Indigenous childcare spaces (200 spaces each) to a high-quality Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) model of care.

Eligible Indigenous organizations are invited to apply for this opportunity to convert their urban Indigenous-led childcare facilities to the AHS program model, making them no-fee, holistic childcare and family wellness programs.


Learn more below & we invite you to attend a virtual information session.

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BC Budget 2021

BC Budget 2021 supports reconciliation through a range of new investments that prioritize the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples and communities. This includes $20 million over three years to add 400 additional spaces to the Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) program in the province.

Operational funding of $8.66M is allocated per year to convert 400 existing Indigenous childcare spaces to the AHS program model, making them no-fee, holistic childcare and family wellness programs. 

Treasury Board approved the transition of 400 existing Indigenous-led childcare spaces from their current funding model to a fully operationally funded, high-quality AHS model of care. 

A decision from the Province has been made to divide the annual $8.66M equally between urban and on-reserve Indigenous childcare programs, $4.33M to FNHA for on-reserve communities and $4.33M to AHSABC annually for urban Indigenous communities. 

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BC Budget
AHS Need
About Aboriginal Head Start

AHS programs are Indigenous-led, no-fee early learning and childcare programs that support Indigenous children up to six years of age and their families.

AHS programs incorporate six main program components and three foundational components:

  • Culture and language

  • Education and school readiness

  • Health promotion

  • Nutrition

  • Parent and family involvement

  • Social support

  • AHS Beliefs and Values​

  • Accountability and Management​

  • Leadership and Staffing


These culturally based childcare programs also include wrap-around services for Indigenous families and enhanced staffing to support inclusion and family supports. 

Need for AHS Growth
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The addition of 400 new AHS spaces will help meet a growing need and address a gap in Indigenous-led childcare in BC. The Indigenous population is the fastest growing population in Canada, growing by 42.5% — more than four times faster than the rest of the population — between 2006 and 2018 (StatCan 150 Census). 


There are over 232,000 Indigenous people in BC, approximately 67% of whom live off-reserve in urban areas. Over the next seven years, the number of Indigenous children aged 0-5 years is expected to grow from approximately 28,900 to 31,600 in BC. This means an additional 2,700 Indigenous-led spaces will be needed to support this population growth across our province.  

Further support is also needed for existing Indigenous childcare providers. BC’s first AHS expansion project, started in 2018, is funded through the Canada-BC Bilateral ELCC Agreement. This agreement stipulated that these federal funds could only be used to create new spaces. Existing Indigenous childcare spaces were ineligible. 

Existing Indigenous childcare programs experience similar challenges to non-Indigenous sites and must charge high parent fees to remain operational. This has resulted in closures of Indigenous childcare centres serving the most vulnerable families, highlighting the need for an opportunity to convert existing Indigenous childcare programs to AHS sites. These childcare sites would benefit from the single funding stream model that AHS uses in place of parent fees to cover operating costs.






3-Step Expansion Plan September 2021 - March 2022

Step 1 - Promote AHS

September 1 - October 15

  • AHSABC will promote AHS Funding Opportunity through our Provincial partners. 

  • Information will be shared about the opportunity to transition ‘existing childcare’ or ‘soon-to-open childcare’ programs into an AHS model of childcare with eligible Urban Indigenous Organizations.   

  • The information will include an Application for AHS Funding. 

  • The Application for AHS Funding will be open until October 15, 2021. 

Step 2 - Invite to AHS

November 1 - December 15

  • AHSABC, with support from the AHS Elder’s Advisory Circle, will review all complete applications received by October 15, 2021.   

  • Eligible organizations will be shortlisted and invited to develop an AHS Implementation Plan.   

  • AHSABC will support these Indigenous Organizations in their Implementation Plan development. 

Step 3 - Implement AHS

January 1 - March 31, 2022

  • AHSABC and the Indigenous Organizations go into funding agreements.  

  • New AHS programs launch.


What will AHSABC achieve with this opportunity?

  • The creation of 200 new urban AHS spaces that will help meet a growing need and address a gap in Indigenous-led childcare in BC. 

  • An increase in the number of Indigenous families accessing no-fee, culturally based, and inclusive AHS childcare. 

  • The new AHS childcare centres will have support and training from AHSABC and peer AHS programs to grow into their new AHS model of delivery. ​

Eligibility Guidelines

Who is invited to apply to become a new AHS?

  • Existing licensed, Indigenous-led urban childcare facilities accessing CCOF/CCFRI; or

  • ‘Soon-to-open’ Indigenous-led urban childcare facilities.


NOTE: Successful sites accessing this provincial AHS funding stream will not be eligible for CCOF/CCFRI going forward; and families at these sites will not be eligible for the Affordable Child Care Benefit. 

Info Sessions
More Information

For more information, register to attend an upcoming

AHS Funding Opportunity Virtual Information Session over Zoom:

Or contact to set up a meeting with our team.

Application Form

Are you ready to transform your urban Indigenous childcare program?

Submit completed applications to

Deadline to apply is October 15, 2021.

Supporting Documents
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