SAINT JOHN (GNB) – Premier Brian Gallant announced today that the vast majority of eligible child care facilities in Saint John have become designated Early Learning Centres, which will help parents in the region access more affordable and high-quality child care services for their children.

“With these investments, those that need the most support will have the opportunity to receive free child care and middle-class families will have the opportunity to get significant financial support for the cost of child care,” said Gallant. “It is great to see so many daycares wanting to become designated Early Learning Centres.”

In Saint John, 34 of 38 eligible daycares have been designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres or are in the process of obtaining that designation. Twenty of these facilities are located in what the government has identified as the city’s five priority neighbourhoods. All eligible facilities in these priority neighbourhoods will become designated centres.

“We are very happy to hear that so many daycares in the area have become designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres,” said Donna Gates, executive director of Living SJ. “It is important that every family has access to quality early education for their children. Giving parents options to help break the cycle of poverty is crucial.”

The government also recently announced that nine of 13 eligible daycares in the Greater Edmundston area have been designated or are in the process of becoming designated Early Learning Centres.

Parents whose children attend Early Learning Centres are eligible for new subsidies for child care expenses. For example, a family with an annual gross income under $37,500 will have access to free child care. A calculator to estimate parent subsidies is available online.

Early Learning Centres will offer services to preschool children aged five and under through a voluntary application process based on defined criteria. The goal is to designate more than 300 child care facilities as New Brunswick Early Learning Centres by 2020 to offer more affordable, accessible and high-quality early learning and child care services. The provincewide implementation of these centres will be completed by March 1, 2019.

“New Brunswick’s early learning and child care system aims to remove barriers to families in accessing affordable, high quality and inclusive early learning and child care, with a particular focus on families more in need,” said federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. “To that end, I am thrilled to see that investments from the Canada-New Brunswick early learning and child care bilateral agreement have helped open the first designated Early Learning Centres in New Brunswick.”

“I am excited that our facility has been designated as a New Brunswick Early Learning Centre,” said Penny Buck, owner of Family Ties Play Care Inc. “Our team is passionate about providing a quality learning environment to the children in our care. Being able to take advantage of government subsidies allows us to do even more when it comes to improving our services and the opportunities for exciting learning experiences for our children.”

Today’s announcement is part of a $71-million federal-provincial early learning and child care framework which will support early learning initiatives related to:

Affordability

  • The government is committed to investing in access to affordability for those New Brunswickers who need it the most. Families with an annual gross income under $37,500 will have access to free child care. 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 average New Brunswick household’s gross annual income is $75,700. Subsidies will be available for families with annual gross incomes of over $37,500 on a sliding scale. No family in New Brunswick will pay more than 20 per cent of their gross annual family income to cover child care costs while their child is attending a New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.
  • These subsidies, along with the existing Daycare Assistance Program, will help make quality child care more affordable and accessible for even more New Brunswick families. Examples of how this will work are available online.

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.
  • 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 more than 3,000 new spaces and plans to expand the total number of spaces in New Brunswick to 30,000 by 2020.

The federal-provincial, three-year early learning and child care agreement aims 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.