FREDERICTON (GNB) – Operators of child care facilities will be eligible for $12.2 million in grants as part of a plan to designate hundreds of facilities as Early Learning Centres offering high-quality, inclusive and affordable services.

“Your government knows one of the best investments we can make is in education and early childhood learning,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “We recognize that learning is a lifelong process that begins before a child is born and the importance of investing in these foundational years to give every child a chance to develop to their full potential.”

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.

A $7.5 million annual Quality Grant will be provided to help the facilities deliver 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.

As part of the designation process, the operators of early learning centres will work with the department to develop annual quality improvement plans. The plans will focus on manageable actions to raise standards in each centre and are intended to help advance the sector along a continuum of quality.

The provincial and federal governments committed in August to transform as many centres as possible, with an aim of designating more than 300 child care facilities as New Brunswick Early Learning Centres by 2020. This is intended to offer more affordable, accessible, inclusive and high-quality early learning and child care services.

The province will also establish a low-fee policy to help ensure affordable service for all families accessing these designated centres.

“The Government of New Brunswick is replacing daycare as a child-minding service with an early learning and care system that is child-centred and formally integrated with public education to support lifelong learning,” said Margaret McCain, chair of the Margaret & Wallace McCain Family Foundation. “The new direction is anchored by the understanding that good child care educates and good education cares.”

Kenny also announced seven Centres of Excellence in preschool education will be created, one in each school district, in collaboration with the department, post-secondary educational institutions and school districts.

To be eligible to become a Center of Excellence in pre-school education, a facility must become a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.

Kenny said the government recognizes that the training and retention of qualified early childhood educators is an issue and said the provincial government will announce additional support for staff wages in the coming months.

Today’s 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. This funding will be used to support initiatives intended to improve early learning and child care. For example, it will:

  • Transform at least 300 current child care providers into designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres which will provide more affordable, accessible, inclusive and high-quality early learning and child care services.
  • Set a lower fee policy so families most in need can access high-quality and affordable child care.
  • Provide more spaces for infants and toddlers to address gaps within both the anglophone and francophone communities.
  • Implement an inclusion policy for children facing diverse needs at designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres.
  • Foster the vitality of Acadian and francophone communities through the development of guidelines for language acquisition and cultural identity.
  • Increase professional learning opportunities for all early childhood educators.