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Section 1 - The Transition from Unregulated to Regulated Child Care (Child Care Act)

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the early learning and child care sector is regulated by the Department of Education, which sets standards, rules and requirements for all regulated child care services.

What is a regulated child care service?

Regulated child care services are those that hold a child care licence (or an approval certificate from a licensed family child care agency) and are monitored/subject to oversight by either the Department of Education, Department of Digital Government and Service NL, or by a licensed family child care agency.

All regulated child care services must follow the Child Care Act, Regulations, and the associated Policy and Standards.

Types of regulated child care

There are three recognized forms of regulated child care at this time:

  • Child care centres: A facility in which a child care service is operated.  A child care centre can operate either on a part-time (4 hours or less per day) or full-time (more than 4 hours per day) basis. A common misnomer for this type of regulated child care is “daycare.”
  • Family child care agency: An organization that holds an agency licence to issue approval certificates and oversee a number of family child care homes.
  • Family child care home: a type of child care service that provides an activity or other arrangement of temporary care or supervision of a child in a child care service provider’s home. A common misnomer for this type of regulated child care is “day home.”
How are regulated child care services monitored?

Regional staff from the Early Learning and Child Development Division of the Department of Education regularly visit child care services that hold a licence, while family child care agency staff regularly visit family homes that hold approval certificates under their agency licence. These visits help to ensure legislation and policy are met and support licensees and approved child care service providers to meet or exceed these standards.

What is an unregulated child care service?

In Newfoundland and Labrador, a person can provide family home child care, without a provincial licence (or an approval certificate from a licensed agency), where the child care provider has a maximum of four children under age 13 and no more than two of these children are under age two (including their own children under age 13). Other exempted services include services offered for fewer than 10 hours per week; or for school-age children where the program is for artistic, sports or tutoring purposes or is offered during a school break (e.g., summer camp).

The Transition from Unregulated to Regulated

There are many reasons why it is beneficial for operators to become regulated, including:

  • Access to financial support from the provincial government. During recent COVID-19 related shutdowns, regulated child care services were eligible to receive government financial support.
  • Providing access to the Child Care Subsidy for families with low to middle family incomes.
  • Eligible to participate in the operating grant program, which provides operational grants to allow providers to reduce fees to $25 a day.

For family child care homes specifically, the benefits of becoming regulated include:

  • An increase in the number of children who can participate in child care from a maximum of four (including their own children) to a maximum of seven children (depending on age range), and increasing potential earnings. This number may exclude up to two of the child care service provider’s own children.
  • Access to support from regional Early Learning and Child Development staff or from monitors (home visitors) from a licensed family child care agency;
  • Family child care agencies offer additional supports to family child care homes approved under their licence:
    • Participate in networking opportunities with other family child care service providers;
    • Provide access to services such as drop-in playgroups and toy-lending libraries; and
    • Receive training specific to family home child care and other professional learning opportunities at little or no cost.
What supports are available to regulated child care service providers and their families?
  • Child Care Subsidy: An income tested program designed to assist families with the cost of child care fees at regulated child care services. The Child Care Subsidy Program enables eligible families to access regulated child care services by eliminating or minimizing cost within available resources.  The family net income threshold for full Child Care Subsidy is $35,000 per year. Fully subsidized families who attend a child care service participating in the Operating Grant Program receive free child care in those services.
  • Operating Grant Program (OGP): Helps to address the affordability of child care services for families with young children throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. Effective January 1, 2021, the OGP required participating regulated child care services (child care centres and family child care homes) to lower their rates to $25 per day for Infants, toddlers, preschoolers and full-day school-age children (part-time preschool/after school and before & after school rates are set as per subsidy policy).

Participating child care services are prohibited from charging any other fees for the service (with the exception of a transportation fee if the service provides transportation between home/school and child care and only parents using the service are charged).

The Early Learning and Child Development Division of the Department of Education provides an operational grant to child care services participating in the $25/ day child care program. This operational grant is based on a grant range. All regulated services are eligible for at least the base rates and services that demonstrate that their operational expenses are higher due to considerations such as their location, higher staffing costs, etc. may be eligible for an enhanced rate up to the maximum amount as determined by policy.

  • Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Supplement Program: Provides an income supplement directly to eligible Early Childhood Educators (working in Child Care Centres and Family Child Care Homes), administrators (working in Child Care Centres), and monitors (working in a Family Child Care Agency) ranging from $12,900 to $16,900 per year depending on eligibility.  It is based on level of qualifications and the job held in regulated child care. The intent of the initiative is to attract and retain a greater number of qualified individuals to work in regulated child care settings.
  • Early Childhood Education On-Campus Field Placement Bursary: A bursary program to provide support to ECE students who are required to attend an on-campus field placement. The Department of Education will provide $835 per week, up to $2,500 in total to eligible Early Childhood Education (ECE) students who are required to attend the on-campus field placement.
  • Early Childhood Education Trainee Bursary Program: A bursary program to provide support to Trainee (Entry) Level Caregivers who are taking required ECE courses to upgrade their certification level to Level 1. The Department of Education will provide $250 per successfully completed required post-secondary ECE certificate course to eligible Trainee (Entry) Level child care practitioners who are upgrading to Level I certification.
  • Early Childhood Education (ECE) Graduate Bursary Program: The purpose of this bursary program is to improve recruitment and retention of qualified Early Childhood Educators in regulated child care services by reducing student debt.  The Department of Education will provide up to $7,500 to eligible applicants who graduate from a post-secondary institution in NL with a Diploma in ECE.
  • The Child Care Capacity Initiative (CCCI): Provides funding for municipalities, not-for-profit organizations and family home child care providers to increase the number of regulated child care services, particularly in underserviced areas, with a focus on rural, linguistic minority and indigenous communities. The funding supports applicants to ensure they meet legislative requirements that allow them to become licensed/approved to provide regulated, quality, and affordable child care throughout the province. The CCCI assists with the costs associated with start-up and renovation expenses such as the purchase of quality materials and equipment to meet health and safety requirement (e.g. egress windows, fire suppression systems) as well as developmentally appropriate materials and equipment to deliver an inclusive quality program.


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