SAINT JOHN (GNB) – The provincial government announced today that the first designated anglophone and francophone New Brunswick Early Learning Centres will be located in Saint John and the Greater Edmundston area, in March 2018.

“One of the best investments we can make to grow the economy, strengthen education and enhance the health of New Brunswickers, is in early childhood development,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “By working with all stakeholders, we will invest millions of dollars to support families that are struggling to pay for child care, increase the number of child care spaces, and improve the quality of child care.”

The provincewide implementation of these centres will be completed by March 1, 2019.

Daycares must meet the following criteria to become designated early learning centres:

  • Commit to a low-fee policy, with particular attention to low- and middle-income families.
  • Work with the department to find ways to provide more spaces for infants and toddlers.
  • Improve their capacity to serve all children, including those with disabilities and diverse needs, by implementing inclusive policies and practices.
  • Create annual quality improvement plans and assessments.
  • Engage in professional learning.
  • Work with the government on data-sharing to inform public policy.

Facilities designated as 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. This will be accompanied by operational funding for preschool services.

“We are committed to enhancing child care services in the province, and we understand that investments in early learning and child care are crucial to the quality of life of our families and to the economy,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “New Brunswick Early Learning Centres will benefit from greater support for educators in delivering higher-quality programming for all New Brunswick children.”

“This announcement is foundational for families in our community,” said Shilo Boucher, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Saint John. “Quality child care is necessary so that children are properly prepared for their educational journey. We are excited that Saint John has been selected as the site for the first anglophone New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.”

“I am pleased the provincial and federal governments are partnering to invest in early learning and child care to benefit children, families and daycares,” said Parise Cyr, of the Garderie les p’tits chatons in Edmundston. “In addition, it will be interesting to become an early learning centre.”

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.