FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is investing an additional $1 million in the Day Care Assistance program to increase childcare subsidies and to expand the program eligibility to help families with early learning and childcare costs.

"We are committed to making early learning and childcare services more affordable and accessible for New Brunswick working families," said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Jody Carr. "By increasing these subsidies and expanding eligibility, we are helping ease the burden of child care costs. These increases are part of the provincial government's $38-million three-year action plan Putting Children First."

These changes bring the total investment in the program to nearly $15 million.

The following changes are effective as of Oct. 1:

●    families with an annual income less than $25,000 will be eligible for the full amount of the subsidy, up from $22,000;

●    the eligibility ceiling for the subsidy will rise to those with an annual family income of $45,000, up from $40,000;

●    the maximum daily subsidy for infants (birth to 24 months) will be increased by $2 per day, bringing the rate to $26.50 per day, up from $24.50 per day; and

●    the maximum daily subsidy for preschoolers (two to five years old) will be increased by 75 cents per day, bringing the rate to $23.25 per day, from $22.50 per day.

Families already in the program will have their rates increased automatically. Families now eligible due to the ceiling adjustments must contact their regional Social Development office to apply.

The changes are part of a phased approach to increase the subsidies and eligibility over the next three years. Further adjustments will be implemented in October 2013 and October 2014.

By the end of year three in 2014-15:

●    families with an annual income less than $30,000 will be eligible for the full amount of the subsidy;

●    the eligibility ceiling for the subsidy will rise to $55,000 in annual family income;

●    the maximum daily subsidies for infants (birth to 24 months) will be increased to $28.50 per day; and

●    the maximum daily subsidies for preschoolers (two to five years old) will be increased to $24.25 per day.

There are currently about 5,600 families benefiting from the Day Care Assistance Program. These changes will help 2,000 more families.

"We are committed to improving the affordability, quality, accessibility and inclusivity of early childhood services in New Brunswick," said Carr. "The well-being and success of New Brunswick's children and families will remain our focus as we continue to rebuild our province."