MONCTON (GNB) – A total of 152 early learning and child care facilities in the Moncton region have benefited from $931,722 under the provincial government’s One-Time Quality Improvement Grant program.

“We understand one of the best ways to improve educational outcomes over time is by investing in early childhood learning,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers. “These grants will enable early learning and child care facilities to increase the quality of the indoor and outdoor learning environment, which in turn will give every child a chance to develop to their full potential.”

Rogers spoke on behalf of Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny.

The grants help facilities improve indoor and outdoor learning environments, including equipment and materials, for children aged five and under. At least 50 per cent of the grant must be used to enhance or create more natural outdoor play spaces for children. This provision aligns with one of the two New Brunswick Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Frameworks.

Rogers visited Miracles at First Child Care Centre in Moncton today to tour the facility. It received $14,056 to enhance its indoor and outdoor play space.

“As a small child care centre, we usually have to fundraise for any big changes so, to our staff and children, this Quality Improvement Grant was like Christmas,” said executive director Janet Perry. ‟Half was divided for improvements to classes and programming and the other half was used to create a large sand area, a mud kitchen and to build storage in the yard so that the outdoor toys are more accessible to the children.”

The one-time grants will total $4.7 million over two years. In the first year, 506 early learning and child care facilities across New Brunswick have taken advantage of the grant.

The deadline for applying for the one-time quality improvement grant for 2018-19 is Feb. 28, 2019. The grant will be available to all licensed facilities offering services to preschool children aged five and under that have become designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres.

A full list of Moncton-region facilities receiving one-time grants is available online.

“I am happy to see that funding from the Canada-New Brunswick early learning and child care bilateral agreement will be used to increase the quality of the learning environments for children, including both materials and equipment, or professional learning for early childhood educators,” said federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor. “It is a priority for the Government of Canada that children have the best possible start in life to set them up for success, and that is what we are doing today.”

Petitpas Taylor spoke on behalf of federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.

The One-Time Quality Improvement Grant 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.