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Section 2: Ongoing Opportunities and Challenges for Regulated Child Care (Child Care Act)

Recent Initiatives

Over the past two years, the provincial government has put increased focus on the early learning and child care sector, taking measures to support parents and child care service providers. These measures included:

  • In October 2020, announced $25 per day child care under the Operating Grant Program (effective January 2021), with a focus on affordability for all parents with children in regulated child care settings.
  • In November 2020, introduced changes to provide family home child care providers access to the $25 per day Operating Grant program which was launched in January 2021.
  • Also in November 2020, introduced the Casual Caregiver Pilot Program, which allows child care centres, particularly those in areas where recruitment is a larger issue, to hire a temporary employee on a short-term basis to replace staff who are absent.
  • In recognition of staffing challenges in the Labrador region, in January 2021 introduced an additional 15 per cent “escalator”  for regulated child care service providers participating in the Operating Grant Program in that region, provided that the additional money is all spent on compensation for staff.
  • In July 2021, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador introduced an Early Learning and Child Care Quality Enhancement Program to enhance quality in regulated child care services through consultation regarding program design, learning processes, interactions with children and their families, and enhancements to physical environments. A quality enhancement grant is available to participants in the program.

Looking forward, the Provincial Government is in discussions with the Government of Canada on its recently announced $30 billion investment into enhancing child care across the country. Government will be seeking to prioritize quality, affordability, and access through the province’s portion of this funding.

What supports are available to regulated child care service providers?

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 Family Child Care Agencies) 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.

Federal Government Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Plan

On July 28, the Governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador announced an agreement that will transform early learning and child care in the province. Through this agreement, Newfoundland and Labrador will receive more than $347 million between 2021-22 and 2025-26 to implement its Early Learning and Child Care Action Plan, which will result in increased access to child care, improved affordability and improvements in the quality and inclusivity of programming (Click here to view the News Release)

Ongoing Opportunities and Challenges to Address

While there has been recent focus and investment, the provincial government recognizes that there is always more that can be done to support regulated child care service providers, early childhood educators and families with children in child care.

As part of this consultation, we want to hear from regulated child care service providers to help identify what current supports are helpful to the sector, what more we can do to support the sector and if there are any policy or regulation changes that we could make to ease administrative burden or any other pressures. We also want to hear from parents with children in regulated child care services who have perspectives on how we can support the sector.

Submissions are closed.