FREDERICTON (GNB)Following its announcement to provide free child care for households with annual incomes of $37,500 or less, the government has created a question-and-answer web page to further explain what this means for New Brunswick families.

“Your government is committed to helping as many families as possible pay for child care,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “Last week, we were pleased to announce financial support for families that need it the most. If we want to improve the quality of life for New Brunswick families, one of the best investments we can make is in early learning and education.”

The free daycare program is for parents who are either working or attending school, with children aged five and under attending a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.

The program is available to eligible families regardless of the centre’s location or the fee charged by its operator. The first designated anglophone and francophone centres will be located in Saint John and the Greater Edmundston area beginning in March. They will be implemented provincewide by March 1, 2019.

Providing free child care is part of a larger framework of child care investments and early learning initiatives related to:

Quality

  • Daycares in New Brunswick will be able to apply for a One-Time Quality Improvement Grant to increase the quality of both indoor and outdoor learning environments, including equipment and materials, for children aged five and under. The one-time grants will total $4.7 million over the next two years.
  • $7.5 million in annual Quality Grants will be provided to help the facilities deliver high-quality child care services and meet the criteria of becoming a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre. The funding equates to a daily funding enhancement of $2.50 per space per day for children aged two to five years old. All early learning centre operators will be required to develop a plan for continuous quality improvement.
  • New Brunswick Early Learning Centres will offer services to preschool children aged five and under through a voluntary application process. Daycares are not required to be part of this program. Those that choose to do so will work in collaboration with the government with the aim of offering equitable and affordable access to high-quality early learning and child care services by removing barriers linked to family income, children’s abilities and needs, language and minority settings.
  • The government is investing $28 million, in addition to the multi-year bilateral funding, to support wage increases for early childhood educators. The funding will be rolled out over four years beginning in 2019-20 and raise wages from $16 an hour to $19 an hour for trained early childhood educators by 2022-23. 

Accessibility

  • A new child care registry will serve as a one-stop shop for families to register their children for available child care spaces and have access to apply for subsidies online. Families will also be able to determine immediately whether spaces are available in a facility or if there is a wait list.
  • An Infant Operator Grant will be available to offset operational costs of infant care. It will provide $10 per occupied infant space per day.
  • Transforming as many child care facilities as possible, with an aim of designating more than 300 as New Brunswick Early Learning Centres by 2020 to offer more affordable, accessible, inclusive and high-quality early learning and child care services.
  • Early Learning Centres will also receive support to help increase the number of infant spaces across the province by 200 by the year 2020.
  • Since October 2014 the provincial government has created nearly 3,000 new spaces and plans to expand the total number of spaces in New Brunswick to 30,000 by 2020.

Affordability

  • In addition to last week’s announcement, the government is committed to investing in access to affordability for even more New Brunswickers.
  • Additional financial support measures for preschool-aged children five and under will be unveiled in the near future.

The announcement is part of a federal-provincial, three-year early learning and child care agreement that commits $71 million in investments to improve early learning and child care for preschool-aged children in the province. More details on the government’s plan to invest and transform the child care and early learning system are available in its Early Learning and Child Care Action Plan, Everyone at their best… from the start: Early Learning and Child Care Action Plan.