Canada-New Brunswick Early Learning and Child Care Agreement

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Between

Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada (hereinafter referred to as “Canada” or “Government of Canada”) as represented by the Minister of Employment and Social Development (herein referred to as “the federal Minister”)

And

Her Majesty the Queen in right of the province of New Brunswick (hereinafter referred to as “New Brunswick” or “Government of New Brunswick”) as represented by the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development herein referred to as “the provincial Minister”)

Referred to collectively as the “Parties”

Preamble

Whereas, Canada and New Brunswick agreed to a Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework on June 12, 2017 which articulated their shared vision for early learning and child care and describes their approach to achieve this vision;

Whereas, the Department of Employment and Social Development Act authorizes the federal Minister to enter into agreements with the provinces and territories, for the purpose of facilitating the formulation, coordination and implementation of any program or policy within the mandate of the federal Minister;

Whereas, the Family Services Act and Order in Council 2010-513 authorize the provincial Minister to enter in agreements with the Government of Canada under which Canada undertakes to provide funding toward costs incurred by the Government of New Brunswick for the provision of early learning and child care programs and services;

Whereas, Canada has, pursuant to its Policy on Transfer Payments, established a transfer payment program to provide funds to the provincial and territorial governments for the development and delivery of regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under six years of age, with consideration for families more in need;

Whereas, Canada, in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, is developing a separate framework on Indigenous early learning and child care.

Whereas, New Brunswick supports licensing of early learning and child care facilities and provides early learning and child care services for New Brunswick children, including Indigenous children accessing services off-reserve.

Now therefore, Canada and New Brunswick agree as follows:

1. Vision for Early Learning and Child Care

1.1 Canada and New Brunswick agree that the long term vision, principles and objectives for early learning and child care, which are set out in the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework (Framework) that is attached as Annex 1, will guide the investment of funds provided under this Agreement.

2. Early Learning and Child Care objectives and areas of investment

2.1 Objectives

2.1.1 Canada and New Brunswick agree that over the period of this Agreement, with financial support from Canada, New Brunswick will further build its early learning and child care system by addressing local, regional and system priorities that have an impact on families more in need by increasing the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care, towards achieving the objectives of:

  1. Facilitate equitable and affordable access to high quality early learning and child care services by removing barriers linked to family income, children’s ability and needs, language in minority settings, and ensuring that new spaces are created in the areas of greatest need.
  2. Increasing the quality of early learning and child care services for children and their families by strengthening and sustaining a highly competent and engaged workforce and modeling/sharing best practices

New Brunswick’s policy towards early learning and child care and approach to achieving these objectives is set out in their Action Plan attached as Annex 2.

2.2 Eligible areas of investment

2.2.1 New Brunswick agrees to prioritize funds provided by Canada under this Agreement in regulated early learning and child care programs and services, as per New Brunswick’s areas of responsibility, for children under the age of six where:

  1. Regulated programs and services are defined as those that meet standards that are established and/or monitored by provincial/territorial governments.
  2. Early learning and child care programs and services are defined as those supporting direct care and early learning for children in settings including, but not limited to, regulated child care centres, regulated family child care homes, early learning centres, preschools and nursery schools.

2.2.2 In developing and delivering its early learning and child care programs and services, New Brunswick agrees to take into account the needs of official language minority communities in New Brunswick.

2.2.3 Types of investments include: capital and operating funding for regulated early learning and child care, fee subsidies, training, professional development and support for the early childhood workforce, quality assurance, parents information and referral, and administration costs incurred by New Brunswick in implementing and administering this Agreement.

2.2.4 Canada and New Brunswick also agree to promote, define, and deliver identifiable innovative approaches to enhance the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility, and inclusivity of early learning and child care systems, with consideration for those more in need.

2.2.5 Canada and New Brunswick agree that funding will be targeted toward programs and activities, as described above, for children under the age of six, that will have an impact on families more in need such as lower-income families, Indigenous families, lone-parent families, families in underserved communities; those working non-standard hours; and/or families with children with varying abilities. Needs also include having limited or no access to early learning and child care programs and services in the children’s official language.

3. Period of agreement

3.1 This Agreement shall come into effect upon the last signature being affixed and will remain in effect until March 31, 2020, unless terminated in writing by Canada in accordance with the terms in section 11. Funding provided under this Agreement, in accordance with section 4, will cover the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2020.

3.2 Renewal of bilateral agreements

3.2.1 Canada commits that the annual allocation for the period 2020-2021 to 2027-2028 will be no less than the annual allocation of this current agreement. Funding for future years will be provided upon the renewal of bilateral agreements conditional on Canada’s acceptance of new action plans and informed by the assessment of the results achieved under the action plan set out in Annex 2.

3.2.2 In the event this bilateral agreement is renewed in accordance with the terms of section 3.2.1, New Brunswick may continue to use funding provided thereunder to cover the same eligible areas of investment as those covered through funding received for the period 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 subject to the terms and conditions of that renewed agreement.

3.2.3 The renewal will provide New Brunswick and Canada the opportunity to review and course correct, if required, and realign new priorities in future bilateral agreements based on progress made to date.

4. Financial provisions

4.1 These contributions are in addition and not in lieu of those that Canada currently pays to New Brunswick through the Canada Social Transfer in order to support early childhood development and early learning and child care within New Brunswick.

4.2 Allocation to New Brunswick

4.2.1 Canada has designated the following maximum amounts to be transferred in total to all provinces and territories under this initiative with a fixed base rate of $2 million per year for each province and territory and the balance of the funding on a per capita basis for the period starting on April 1, 2017 and ending on March 31, 2020.

  1. $399,669,692 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2017
  2. $399,347,695 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2018
  3. $399,347,695 for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2019

4.2.2 Subject to annual adjustment based on the formula described in section 4.2.3, New Brunswick’s estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.1 will be:

Fiscal Year Estimated amount to be paid to New Brunswick* (subject to annual adjustment)
2017-2018 $9,941,829
2018-2019 $9,934,985
2019-2020 $9,934,985

*Illustrative levels based on Canada’s population projections

Canada commits that the annual allocation for the period 2020-2021 to 2027-2028 will be no less than the annual allocation of this current agreement under the conditions set out in section 3.2.1.

4.2.3 The final yearly amount to be paid to New Brunswick will be calculated using the following formula F x K/L, where:

F is the annual total funding amount transferred to provinces and territories minus the base funding;

K is the total population of New Brunswick, as determined using annual population estimates from Statistics Canada;

L is the total population of Canada, as determined using annual population estimates from Statistics Canada.

4.2.4 For the purposes of the formula in section 4.2.3, the population of New Brunswick for each Fiscal Year and the total population of all provinces and territories for that Fiscal Year are the respective populations as determined on the basis of the quarterly preliminary estimates of the respective populations on July 1 of that Fiscal Year released in September of that Fiscal Year by Statistics Canada.

4.3 In this Agreement, “Fiscal Year” means the period commencing on April 1 of any calendar year and terminating on March 31 of the immediately following calendar year.

4.4 Payment

4.4.1 Canada’s contribution will be paid in approximately equal semiannual installments as follows:

The first installment will be paid on or about June 15 of each Fiscal Year. The second installment will be paid on or about November 15 of each Fiscal Year.

The amount of the first installment will be an amount equal to 50% of the notional amount of Canada’s maximum contribution to New Brunswick for the Fiscal Year, which will be calculated in the manner described in sections 4.2.3 and 4.2.4.

The amount of the second installment will be an amount equal to the balance of Canada’s contribution to New Brunswick for the Fiscal Year based on the actual amount of the contribution determined under sections 4.2.3 and 4.2.4 for the Fiscal Year.

Canada will notify New Brunswick at the beginning of the Fiscal Year of their notional amount. The notional amount will be based on the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates on July 1 of the preceding Fiscal Year. Canada will notify New Brunswick of the actual amount of the second installment in each Fiscal Year as determined under the formula set out in section 4.2.3 as soon as possible following the release in September of each year of the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates referred to in section 4.2.4.

Canada shall withhold payment of its second installment for the Fiscal Year if New Brunswick has failed to provide its annual audited financial statement for the previous Fiscal Year in accordance with section 5.2.1 (d) until such time as the annual audited statement is provided.

The sum of both semi-annual installments constitutes a final payment and is not subject to any further adjustment once the second installment of that Fiscal Year has been paid.

Payment of Canada’s funding for each Fiscal Year of this Agreement is subject to an annual appropriation by the Parliament of Canada for this purpose.

4.5 Maximum annual contribution in respect of administration costs

4.5.1 Canada’s contribution in respect of New Brunswick’s administration costs referred to in section 2.2.3 shall not exceed:

In Fiscal Year 2017-2018 an amount equal to 10% of the maximum amount payable and for the Fiscal Years, 2018-2019, 2019-2020 an amount equal to 5% of the maximum amount payable.

4.6 Carry Forward

4.6.1 At the request of New Brunswick and subject to the approval of Canada’s Treasury Board, New Brunswick may retain and carry forward to March 31, 2019, an amount of up to 50% of the contribution paid to New Brunswick for 2017-2018 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by New Brunswick in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2018-2019 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.6.2 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to Fiscal Year 2018-2019 under section 4.6.1 is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to New Brunswick under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2018-2019.

4.6.3 The amount carried forward pursuant to section 4.6.1 must be spent by March 31, 2019. New Brunswick is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31, 2019, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada’s contribution for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 paid pursuant to section 4.2.3 that remains unexpended at the end of that fiscal year. Such amounts are to be repaid to Canada in accordance with section 4.7.

4.6.4 At the request of New Brunswick and subject to the approval of Canada’s Treasury Board, New Brunswick may retain and carry forward to March 31, 2020, an amount of up to 10% of the contribution paid to New Brunswick for 2018-2019 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by New Brunswick in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2019-2020 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.6.5 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to Fiscal Year 2019-2020 under section 4.6.4 is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to New Brunswick under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2019-2020.

4.6.6 The amount carried forward pursuant to section 4.6.4 must be spent by March 31, 2020. New Brunswick is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31, 2020, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada’s contribution for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 paid pursuant to section 4.2.3 that remains unexpended at the end of that fiscal year. Such amounts are to be repaid to Canada in accordance with section 4.7.

4.7 Repayment of overpayment

4.7.1 In the event payments made to New Brunswick exceed the amount to which New Brunswick is entitled under this Agreement, the amount of the excess is a debt due to Canada and shall be repaid to Canada upon receipt of notice to do so and within the period specified in the notice.

4.8 Use of funds

4.8.1 Canada and New Brunswick agree that funds provided under this Agreement will only be used by New Brunswick in accordance with the areas for investment outlined in section 2.2 of this Agreement.

4.8.2 Canada and New Brunswick agree that, within each Fiscal Year of the period of this Agreement, New Brunswick may move funding between the individual programming categories outlined in its Action Plan in Annex 2 to ensure the maximum use of funding. New Brunswick agrees to notify Canada in writing of any such change in funding allocation, including the rationale for the change.

5. Accountability

5.1 Action Plan

5.1.1 New Brunswick has completed and shared its Action Plan for the years 2017-2018 – 2019-2020 of federal funding with Canada, as set out in Annex 2. Upon signature of this Agreement by both Parties, New Brunswick will publicly release their Action Plan which:

  1. Identifies specific priority areas for investment and objectives, within the Framework’s parameters, which builds upon the progress to date in the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and/or inclusivity of their early learning and child care system, with consideration for those more in need;
  2. Describes how New Brunswick plans to address the early learning and child care needs of its children/families more in need, including families that have limited access to programs and services in their official language;
  3. Outlines their planned innovation spending;
  4. Demonstrates that federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing New Brunswick early learning and child care spending, in particular spending dedicated to Indigenous populations;
  5. Outlines the indicators that will be reported on annually according to their planned investments;
  6. Identifies specific targets for each indicator that will be reported on annually for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement;
  7. Identifies additional jurisdiction-specific indicators for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement;
  8. A description of consultation processes referred to in section 5.1.2, the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback.

5.1.2 New Brunswick will consult with parents, child care providers, experts, Indigenous peoples, official language minority communities and other interested Canadians as an important step in developing and revising its Action Plan.

5.2 Reporting

5.2.1 By no later than October 1 of each Fiscal Year during the Period of this Agreement, New Brunswick agrees to:

  1. Report to the people of New Brunswick and to Canada on the results and expenditures of early learning and child care programs and services. The report shall include the number of children benefiting from subsidies, number of licensed early learning and child care spaces broken down by age of child and type of setting. The report shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this Agreement.
  2. Continue to provide to Canada data required for the publication of the joint Federal-Provincial/Territorial report on Public Investments in Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada.
  3. Provide to Canada an Annual Report in the format and manner decided jointly by Canada and New Brunswick. The report shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this Agreement and shall include:
    1. Brief description of the activities, expenditures and results of the Canada-New Brunswick Early Learning and Child Care Agreement as set out in Annex 2;
    2. Results achieved according to the indicators and targets referred to in Annex 2;
    3. Impact on families more in need, including families that have limited access to programs and services in their official language referred to in Annex 2;
    4. Results achieved on innovation referred to in Annex 2;
    5. Description of consultation processes, the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback referred to in Annex 2; and
    6. Any additional results of evaluation activities undertaken in the Fiscal Year, as available.
  4. Provide to Canada an audited financial statement of revenues received from Canada under this Agreement during the Fiscal Year
    1. The revenue section of the statement shall show the amount received from Canada under this Agreement during the Fiscal Year.
    2. The total amount of funding used for early learning and child care programs and services under section 2.2.
    3. The administration costs incurred by New Brunswick in developing and administering early learning and child care programs under section 2.2.3
    4. If applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be repaid to Canada under section 4.6.
  1. The financial statement shall be prepared in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the audit shall be performed by the New Brunswick Auditor General or his/her delegate, or by an independent public accounting firm registered under the laws of New Brunswick and shall be conducted in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.

5.2.2 Canada, with prior notice to New Brunswick, may incorporate all or any part or parts of the said report into any public report that Canada may prepare for its own purposes, including any reports to the Parliament of Canada or reports that may be made public

5.3 Audit

5.3.1 New Brunswick will ensure that expenditure information presented in the annual report is, in accordance with New Brunswick’s standard accounting practices, complete and accurate.

5.4 Evaluation

5.4.1 As per established policies and processes with respect to program effectiveness, New Brunswick may evaluate programs and services receiving funds provided under this Agreement and make public the results of any such evaluations.

6. Long-term collaboration

6.1 Canada and New Brunswick agree to share and release data as available, and knowledge, research and information on effective and innovative practices in early learning and child care, to further support the development of and reporting on quality and outcomes. Canada and New Brunswick agree to work together, and with stakeholders, towards the development of common quality and outcome measures that could be included in bilateral agreements in the future that could reinforce the Framework’s long-term vision.

6.2 Canada and New Brunswick agree to work together to improve data collection and dissemination on key early learning and child care information for children under age six.

7. Communications

7.1 Canada and New Brunswick agree on the importance of communicating with citizens about the objectives of this Agreement in an open, transparent, effective and proactive manner through appropriate public information activities.

7.2 Each government will receive the appropriate credit and visibility when investments financed through funds granted under this Agreement are announced to the public.

7.3 Canada agrees to give New Brunswick 10 days advance notice of public communications related to the Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

7.4 New Brunswick agrees to give Canada 10 days advance notice and advance copies of public communications related to the Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

7.5 Canada reserves the right to conduct public communications, announcements, events, outreach and promotional activities about the Framework and bilateral agreements.

8. Dispute resolution

8.1 Canada and New Brunswick are committed to working together and avoiding disputes through government-to-government information exchange, advance notice, early consultation, and discussion, clarification, and resolution of issues, as they arise.

8.2 If at any time either Canada or New Brunswick is of the opinion that the other Party has failed to comply with any of its obligations or undertakings under this Agreement or is in breach of any term or condition of the Agreement, Canada or New Brunswick, as the case may be, may notify the other party in writing of the failure or breach. Upon such notice, Canada and New Brunswick will endeavour to resolve the issue in dispute bilaterally through their Designated Officials.

8.3 If a dispute cannot be resolved by Designated Officials, then the dispute will be referred to the Deputy Ministers of Canada and New Brunswick most responsible for early learning and child care, and if it cannot be resolved by them, then the federal Minister and the provincial Minister shall endeavour to resolve the dispute.

9. Equality of treatment

9.1 During the term of this Agreement, if another province or territory, except the province of Quebec, which is not part of the Framework, negotiates and enters into an Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with Canada, or negotiates and enters into an amendment to such an agreement and if, in the reasonable opinion of New Brunswick, any provision of that agreement or amended agreement is more favourable to that province or territory than the terms set forth in this Agreement, Canada agrees to amend this Agreement in order to afford similar treatment to New Brunswick, if requested by New Brunswick. This includes any provision of the bilateral agreement except for the Financial Provisions set out under section 4.0. This amendment shall be retroactive to the date on which the Early Learning and Child Care agreement or the amendment to such an agreement with the other province or territory, as the case may be, comes into force.

9.2 Canada will make publicly available up-to-date Early Learning and Child Care agreements entered into with all provinces and territories, including any amendments, by posting them on a Government of Canada website.

10. Amendments to the agreement

10.1 This Agreement, including all attached annexes, except Annex 1, may be amended at any time by mutual consent of the Parties. To be valid, any amendments shall be in writing and signed, in the case of Canada, by the federal Minister, and in the case of New Brunswick, by the provincial Minister.

11. Termination

11.1 Canada may terminate this Agreement at any time if the terms of this Agreement are not respected by New Brunswick by giving at least 6 months written notice of its intention to terminate.

11.2 As the effective date of termination of this Agreement under section 11.1, Canada shall have no obligation to make any further payments to New Brunswick.

12. Notice

Any notice, information or document provided for under this Agreement will be effectively given if delivered or sent by letter, postage or other charges prepaid. Any notice that is delivered will have been received in delivery; and, except in periods of postal disruption, any notice mailed will be deemed to have been received eight calendar days after being mailed.

The address for notice or communication to Canada shall be:

140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Québec K1A 0J9

The address for notice or communication to New Brunswick shall be:

Nicole Gervais
Executive Director for Early Childhood Development
Place 2000
250, King Street
P.O. 6000
Fredericton, New Brunswick
E3B 5H1

13. General

13.1 This Agreement, including Annexes 1 and 2, comprise the entire agreement entered into by the Parties with respect to the subject matter hereof.

13.2 This Agreement is based on the Framework, Annex 1, concluded on June 12, 2017.

13.3 This Agreement shall be interpreted according to the laws of Canada and New Brunswick.

13.4 No member of the House of Commons or of the Senate of Canada or of the Legislature of New Brunswick shall be admitted to any share or part of this Agreement, or to any benefit arising therefrom.

13.5 If for any reason a provision of this Agreement that is not a fundamental term is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be or to have become invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, it will be deemed to be severable and will be deleted from this Agreement, but all the other provisions of this Agreement will continue to be valid and enforceable.

13.6 The English and French versions of this Agreement, when signed, are equally authoritative.

Signed on behalf of Canada by the Minister of Employment and Social Development at Moncton this 30th day of August, 2017.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Employment and Social Development

Signed on behalf of New Brunswick by the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development at Moncton this 30th day of August, 2017.

The Honourable Brian Kenny, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development

Annex 1: Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers most responsible for Early Learning and Child Care agreeFootnote 1on the importance of supporting parents, families and communities in their efforts to ensure the best possible future for their children. For more details on this agreement, please consult the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Annex 2: New Brunswick’s action plan

New Brunswick’s Early Learning and Child Care plan.

Introduction

By 2030, New Brunswick’s early learning and child care system will be transformed to offer higher quality services that are universally accessible and affordable to all families and children through a robust public policy framework, making New Brunswick an ideal place in which to raise a family. To that end, New Brunswick is embarking on a transformational journey that will focus on removing barriers to families in accessing affordable, high quality and inclusive early learning and child care, with a particular focus on families more in need. In August 2016, the Child Care Review task force Report published its findings after extensive consultations across the province with a large numbers of stakeholders, including early learning and child care educators, operators, parents, and interest groups. The purpose of the task force was to outline a path to create conditions for child care to foster growth and to suggest strategies to improve parents’ access to quality and affordable child care services.

The public’s perception that day cares are babysitting services for those who can’t afford in-home care has changed over the last decades to become a valued support to parents, not only for workforce participation, but also for children’s learning. The authors of the task force identified child care as a “key element of social infrastructure.” The Commissioners presented research that access to affordable, inclusive and high-quality early learning and child care not only contributed to an optimal outcome for a child’s development and learning, but also contributed to a more vibrant economy due to job creation and the parents’ ability to increase income security and improve standard of living. It also improved inclusion of children with additional needs and social inclusion of cultural minority groups.

The Commissioners called upon government and society to action as a collective responsibility to transform New Brunswick’s early learning and child care system towards a social infrastructure. The task force put forth 30 recommendations to create a path for the right conditions for quality early learning services. A number of the recommendations provide a direction to ensure that early learning and child care services are accessible, affordable, inclusive and of high quality.

These recommendations are designed to achieve a high quality, affordable, accessible and inclusive early learning and child care system that is sustainable for future generations. These recommendations were based on The task force’s findings from the consultations and research and guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The recommendations are grouped in five overarching recommendations:

  • Governance: a strengthened system with greater public funding and public management; The system will be administered locally using a more collaborative, integrated response that responds to community needs and reduces reliance on a market approach
  • Educational practices: enhanced professional development that provides support for educators and operators respectful of the two provincial curricula
  • Early childhood education as a field of practice: greater access to post-secondary educational opportunities and professional development; increased staff qualifications, salary grid, managed by a legislated, professional body
  • Public investments: increased public investments as a first priority with a coherent, publicly managed early learning and child care system for children from birth to age four to ensure that early learning and child care is affordable to families.
  • Children’s rights: new system that protects the best interest and rights of every child

This action plan demonstrates a plan to establish a high-quality learning environment, both in the physical environment and in the human interactions, within the facility (relationships: educator-child; educator-educator; educator-parents; child-child).

Achievements in Early Learning and Child Care in New Brunswick

As demonstrated in the task force report, there have been new developments in early learning and child care over the past few decades. Research and policy have advanced how we understand early childhood development and education around the world and have influenced public policy. The public’s perception of child care has evolved to become a valued support to parents that benefits a child’s learning, care and development. This transformation has changed how we, as a society, view early learning and child care.

During the past decade, the increase in investments in early learning and child care by the provincial government has been substantial. The provincial government has more than doubled its investments in early childhood in the last decade and has responded to this change in early learning and child care philosophy through innovative programs in the past, including:

  • In 2010, the decision to transfer early childhood services to the newly formed Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, marking the beginning of moving the early learning and child care sector from being seen as a babysitting service to an educational service.
  • The newly implemented and required Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Frameworks for all licensed facilities offering services to children under the age of five bolstered this transformation.
  • Aligning early childhood programs and services on the territories of the school districts.
  • Creating early childhood teams within the school districts to begin the creation of the continuum of learning from birth.

The rapid growth in the number of licensed early learning and child care spaces is reflective of this increased funding. New Brunswick is one of the top contenders nationally for its growth in early learning and child care spaces.

  • In the past 10 years, New Brunswick has increased its number of licensed spaces by 78%.
  • New Brunswick has set a target of providing access to 30,000 spaces by 2020, just over 1,800 additional new spaces are required to meet the target.

While there was significant growth in the number of early learning and child care spaces, the recent Child Care Review Task Force indicates that licensed infant spaces have been repurposed to the benefit of older age groups or are kept vacant as they are too costly to operate.

We are ready to build upon this foundation of early learning and child care in New Brunswick, leveraging our current programs and forming a plan based on the Child Care Review Task Force Recommendations, as well as to support its ambitious goals set out in its 10 year Education Plans.

Vision

Our vision is to build an early learning and child care system of high quality that families can rely on and where every child receives appropriate services enabling them to reach their full potential.

New Brunswick Early Learning Centres

An essential part of this Action Plan is the establishment of a New Brunswick Early Learning Centre designation for early learning and child care facilities across the province. With the aim of having all facilities transitioned to designated centres as soon as possible, a firm commitment has been made that a minimum of 300 centres will have this designation by 2020. Each designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre will provide a better representation of services required in New Brunswick, including increasing the availability of infant care spaces by 10%, or 200 spaces, ensuring rural services, support for children of varying abilities and various backgrounds, and support for minority language settings. These Centres will commit to working with government to provide more affordable, accessible, inclusive and high-quality early learning and child care services.

The New Brunswick Early Learning Centres is a designation that will be awarded to licensed early learning and child care facilities. Through this designation and funding envelope, these centres will:

  • Establish a low-fee policy to ensure affordable services for all New Brunswick families accessing these Centres; this will be established through a subsidized fee grid, with particular attention to families with an annual family income of less than $80,000.
  • Provide more infant and toddler spaces to address the availability gaps within both the Anglophone and Francophone sectors; New Brunswick Early Learning Centres will have the option to provide infant/toddler spaces within their facility or through a network of affiliated family day care homes;
  • Improve their capacity to serve all children including those with disabilities and diverse needs through the implementation of inclusive policy and practices;
  • Receive increased financial support;
  • Establish a parent advisory board for centres that do not already have such a board;
  • Actively participate in communities of practice to strengthen the skills and competencies of their early childhood educators, including a new 90-hour on-line course;
  • Foster the vitality and the cultural development of New Brunswick’s Acadian and Francophone communities and through the development of guidelines to ensure strong language acquisition and cultural identity early learning environments for centres operating in linguistic minority setting.

Objectives and Action Plan

The principles of this action plan are based on the findings of the New Brunswick Child Care Review Task Force’s final report, which is a call to action to build on the strengths of our current early learning and child care program, and to deliver “a high quality, equitable, system that is accessible, affordable and inclusive for all children and families.” We believe our action plan, with the New Brunswick Early Learning Centres designation as its foundation, will achieve these goals.

Objective #1 – Establish New Brunswick Early Learning Centres

The New Brunswick Early Learning Centres designation will serve as a model of higher quality early learning and child care. This initial objective will document and outline the criteria that early learning and child care facilities must achieve. This will ensure families have greater access to high quality and affordable early learning and child care.

Actions to Achieve Objective

Document and outline criteria for the designation – Using the objectives and planned deliverables from this action plan, early learning and child care facilities will have to meet all the criteria required to achieve the designation of New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.

Low Fee Policy – Develop a low fee policy with greater focus on low and middle-income families, particularly those with a family income of less than $80,000, through subsidized spaces. The plan will introduce sustainable operational funding to facilities with the New Brunswick Early Learning Centre designation to ensure parents have greater access to high quality and affordable early learning and child care.

It is anticipated that at least 75% of all children under the age of five across both the Anglophone and Francophone sectors in New Brunswick will be registered in a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre by the conclusion of the bilateral agreement in 2019-2020. While all children participating in one of the designated NB Early Learning Centres will benefit from lower child care fees through this low fee policy, approximately 65% of the children will be children of low and middle income families. In total across the two sectors it is estimated that approximately 9,880 children will benefit from the low fee policy of which 6,320 will be from families of middle to low income families i.e. $55,000 or less.

Ensure proportional child care spaces according to need - Increase access to infant/toddler spaces in early learning and child care by 10% (200 new spaces) 60% within the Anglophone sector and 40% within the Francophone sector, by the conclusion of the bilateral agreement (i.e. 2019-2020).

Promote New Brunswick Early Learning Centre designation to operators – Develop a change management plan to engage operators in the processes to promote the benefits of the new designations through information sessions, participation in working groups and regular communication updates.

Objective #2 – Establish Parent Advisory Boards

A Parent Advisory Board will support each facility with a New Brunswick Early Learning Centre designation. Parent Advisory Boards will ensure greater parental participation and engagement in the services provided to their children. Parents play a crucial role in a child’s optimal development. As such, parental engagement and active participation in every aspect of a child’s life will have a long-lasting impact on his or her development.

Strong, respectful partnerships between parents and educators are critical. This includes sharing of ideas, information, and practices with the goal of creating positive learning experiences. While parents are the primary caregivers, links must also be made with the early learning and child care services as they play an important role in providing quality learning experiences to preschool aged children. These positive relationships will foster a stronger sense of belonging and address the unique needs of children.

Actions to Achieve Objective

Establish guidelines for Parental Advisory Boards – The department will work in collaboration with operators and parents to establish guidelines for parent advisory boards that are flexible to fit the needs of parents, the early learning and child care facility and the community.

Objective #3 – Develop online resources for parents (i.e. Child Care Registry)

To ensure that parents have all the resources available to them to decide on early learning and child care programs and services that fits their families and children’s needs, the department will develop and implement a Child Care Registry. The registry is an online “one-stop-shop” that will provide parents with the information required to make an informed decision, including, early learning and child care facilities’ addresses (with an interactive map), age groups served, language of service, wait lists, parent handbook, inspection reports, and a financial assistance estimator. It will also provide parents the ability to register their child to an early learning and child care facility of their choice and/or to place their child’s name on wait lists, at their own convenience. This new resource will be the way by which parents register to a New Brunswick Early Learning Centre so that families may benefit from more affordable early learning and child care.

In addition, the child care registry will provide reliable and current information on vacancies and wait lists so that the system is responsive to a family’s actual child care needs. This will also allow the province to have a strategic approach to space creation by regularly assessing the coverage gaps and by targeting communities with the greatest needs, including rural communities.

Actions to Achieve Objective

Design and implement the Child Care Registry – The department will leverage resources within the province to develop an interactive online resource for parents.

Develop database of regulated/licensed early learning and child care facilities – Using the current database of information as a starting point, the Department will work with early learning and child care facilities develop a process to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information is available for parents.

Objective #4 – Establish Innovative Centres of Excellence in Preschool Education

Through the collaboration with post-secondary education institutions and school districts, seven Centres of Excellence will be established across the province, one for each school district. These centres, in addition to offering early learning and child care services for preschool aged children will become demonstration sites for innovative practices particularly in relation to quality learning environments; pedagogical practices for both infants/toddlers and for three- and four-year-olds; outdoor play environments; and inclusion and diversity, including cultural identity.

The Centres of Excellence will be designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres that foster innovation and lead by example with the goal of improving the quality of early learning and child care available to children across the province. More specifically, the Centres of Excellence will be required to offer seminars, workshops and support communities of practice for all early childhood educators working with children under the age of five. The Centres of Excellence will also be opened to the public to create an increased awareness of high quality early learning and child care.

Actions to Achieve Objective

Work with post-secondary training institutions and school districts to establish the seven Centres of Excellence in Early Learning in Preschool Education – The Province of New Brunswick benefits from in-province expertise provided by our many post-secondary institutions and school district personnel. The department will work with professors, learning specialists, program developers and experts to develop innovative programs that meet early learning and child care standards of best practice.

Develop agreements with school districts to support the establishment of the Centres of Excellence – The relationship with the school districts is important to the success of the Centres of Excellence. The department will work with school district personnel to ensure alignment with our early learning goals and to leverage resources from each other to ensure our children are set up for a smooth transition from early learning to their first day of school.

Develop and deliver professional learning opportunities aligned with the NB Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework (English) and Curriculum éducatif (francophone) within the Centres of Excellence – Through the partnerships with post-secondary training institutions and the province’s school districts, the Centres of Excellence will be required to offer seminars, workshops and support communities of practice for all early childhood educators working in regulated early learning and child care facilities. The Centres of Excellence will develop professional learning opportunities and share best practices and enhance the quality of early learning and child care services by increasing training opportunities for all early childhood educators.

Develop mentoring and workshop programs for educators – The Centres of Excellence will develop regular mentoring programs and workshops that will strengthen skills and knowledge to ensure high-quality standards are met at all early learning and child care centres. The Centres of Excellence will become demonstration sites and support communities of practice.

Increase public awareness programs of high quality early learning – The Centres of Excellence will further serve to promote quality early learning and child care to the public. Each Centre of Excellence will be responsible for a public engagement program, including information sessions, open houses, and community engagement in activities that will enrich children’s experience.

Objective #5 – Implement professional learning and development opportunities for early childhood educators

Professional learning opportunities will be provided to early childhood educators working in regulated early learning and child care facilities to ensure children attending licensed early learning and child care facilities receive the best care possible.

The “Introduction to Early Childhood Education” is a 90-hour course of which 30 hours is specific to the Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Frameworks and 60 hours consists of modules on various topics including modules on child development and guidance, early language development and literacy, health and well-being, understanding legislation and outdoor play environments. This online course will be accessible to every early childhood educator working in a licensed early learning and child care facility. This will ensure that all early childhood educators have a strong minimum level of training thereby improving the quality of early learning and child care offered to families with young children. This course will be the minimum training requirement for all early childhood educators working in a designated NB Early Learning Centre, therefore, 100% of early childhood educators in these centres will have recognized early childhood education training.

Actions to Achieve Objective

Hire Early Learning Specialists and Consultants – These subject matter experts will support the professional learning of early childhood educators through mentoring and coaching as well as through communities of practice.

Develop professional learning opportunities – Early Learning Specialists and Early Learning Consultants will support and promote professional learning of early childhood educators that is in line with the pedagogical approaches of each of the curriculum frameworks.

Provide Professional Development - funds will be made available to organizations to deliver quality professional learning activities that support quality early learning and child care, through a request for proposal process.

Launch the online courses and learning environment – Starting in the fall of 2017, the online Introduction to Early Childhood Education modules will be offered to all early childhood educators working in a licensed establishment. The online platforms will provide a flexible and accessible learning environment for early childhood educators which will be facilitated through a number of medium including communities of practice, coaching and mentoring workshops provided through the Early Learning consultants in collaboration with the Centres of Excellence.

Objective #6 – Implement an Inclusion Policy

All New Brunswick Early Learning Centres will be required to implement an inclusion policy that articulates the facility’s guidelines and practices to ensure the inclusion of all children and to ensure that all children actively participate in quality learning activities throughout the day.

The department will work with the New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL) to ensure that operators are supported in the elaboration of their inclusion policy setting the guidelines for improving the inclusiveness of early learning and child care for all families with young children, in particular families more in need. It is anticipated that 80% of all early learning and child care facilities within both the Anglophone and Francophone sectors will have an Inclusion Policy by the end of the bilateral agreement (i.e. 2019-2020).

Actions to Achieve Objective

Partner with NBACL to adopt a provincial Early Years Inclusion Policy – This will include a long term plan for the implementation of the existing Inclusion Program Support Guide which is currently being piloted.

New Brunswick Early Years Centres will be model sites for how the inclusion policy should be implemented and that other early learning and child care facilities will be guided to as a starting point for their policies relevant to their community and clientele.

Objective #7 – Develop guidelines for language acquisition and cultural identity learning environments

The protection and promotion of the Francophone and Acadian language and culture is fundamental to ensuring its linguistic and cultural vitality as well as pride of belonging for young New Brunswick Francophones. To achieve this, the Francophone and Acadian community must ensure robust learning environments that encourage strong language development and identity building for preschool children to ensure success in school and in life. The department will work with its Francophone stakeholders to develop guidelines to ensure strong language acquisition and cultural identity early learning environments for centres in linguistic minority setting.

These guidelines will be established for early learning and child care facilities in linguistic minority setting in order to provide early childhood educators with tangible actions they can implement to support the linguistic and cultural needs of children in early learning and child care. This will ensure strong language acquisition and cultural identity, particularly for Francophone children living in minority settings. These guidelines will be reflective and supportive of the early learning curriculum frameworks, particularly the Curriculum éducatif. This initiative supports the commitments made by francophone community leaders through the Linguistic and Cultural Development Policy (Politique d’aménagement linguistique et culturel).

Actions to Achieve Objective

Engage the Association francophone des parents du Nouveau-Brunswick - As a lead organization, the department and the association will work in partnership with operators and educators to develop the base requirements for language acquisition and cultural identity learning environments.

Develop the base requirements for language acquisition and cultural identity learning environments – The designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres operating in linguistic minority settings will need to implement these guidelines to ensure strong language acquisition and cultural identity early learning environments within their Centres with particular focus on Francophone children living in minority communities.

Objective #8 – Introduce requirements for Annual Quality Improvement Plans for all Early Learning and Child Care facilities

Through the implementation of reliable and validated quality assessment tools, operators of early learning and child care facilities will be supported to determine the areas of their services that need the most improvement. This will help target manageable actions to raise quality standards in all facilities, thereby improving the quality of early learning and child care offered to families with young children. The results of these quality assessments will inform the early learning and child care operators in building their annual quality improvement plans, and consequently identifying priority areas of focus to target when applying for the the Quality Improvement Grant.

Following reviews of quality assessment and annual inspection reports, licensed early learning centres or facilities serving children up to age six will be eligible for one-time grants for Annual Quality Improvement Plans. This funding is aimed at increasing the quality of the learning environments for children, including both materials and equipment, or professional learning for early childhood educators. As part of the application process, facilities will be required to develop an Improvement Plan that clearly articulates the areas of focus and how the improvements will be implemented.

Actions to Achieve Objective

Develop quality criteria – Quality criteria will be based on a review of current reliable and validated quality assessment tools and their applicability to the criterion established for the Annual Quality Improvement Plans in line with all policies and guidelines outlined by this action plan and those of the department.

Develop quality review process – The Department will identify the processes and procedures required to evaluate quality and degree of adherence of the New Brunswick Early Learning Centres.

Provide one-time grant program – Provide one-time grants for Quality Improvement Plans to licensed early learning and child care serving children up to age five facilities following reviews of quality assessments and who are interested in pursuing the designation process.

Federal contribution and proposed allocations

The federal contribution will be allocated in this three-year agreement according to the following priorities:

Initiatives Three-year bilateral agreement
2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
New Brunswick Early Learning Centre Designation and parent advisory boards $ 2,000,000 $ 9,239,928 $ 9,239,928
Centres of Excellence in Early Learning $ 700,000 $ 700,000 $ 700,000
Early Learning and Child Care Improvement Grant $ 942,162 $ 2,348,828 Nil
Quality Assessment and Inclusion Policy $ 200,000 $ 645,000 $ 222,624
Guidelines for language acquisition and cultural identity learning environments $ 51,000 $ 100,000 $ 50,000
On-line resource for parents (i.e. Child Care Registry) Nil $ 100,000 Nil
Administrative costs (personnel, reporting, evaluation, etc.) $ 973,290 $ 486,312 $ 486,312
Total1 $ 4,866,452 $ 13,620,068 $ 10,698,864

1 The bilateral agreement allows for the carry forward of a certain amount of annual funding from one year to the next.

These objectives will be achieved as a result of the following investments by both the Governments of Canada and New Brunswick

Initiatives 2017-2020
Federal funding Provincial funding
New Brunswick Early Learning Centres and parent advisory boards $ 20,479,856 $ 33,525,000
Centres of Excellence in Early Learning $ 2,100,000 Nil
Early Learning and Child Care Improvement Grant $ 3,290,989 Nil
Quality Assessment and Inclusion Policy $ 1,067,624 $ 1,275,000
Guidelines for ensuring strong language acquisition and cultural identity learning environments $ 201,000 Nil
On-line resource for parents (i.e. Child Care Registry) $ 100,000 $ 900,000
Professional Learning and Development Nil $ 5,545,800
Administrative costs (personnel, reporting, evaluation, etc.) $ 1,945,914 Nil
Total $ 29,185,283 $ 41,245,800

Timeline

Transforming New Brunswick’s early learning and child care system represents a significant shift from the current state. It is recognized that to achieve the broad objectives outlined in this action plan will require significant time and dedicated commitment. Critical to its success will be the engagement of both the early learning and child care sector and New Brunswick families, therefore the province of New Brunswick will introduce these changes gradually, following discussion with stakeholders and parents, in accordance with the following timeline:

Timeline for action plan
Timeline for action plan: description follows
Text description
  • Engage and promote action plan between August and October 2017
  • Develop criteria and application process for Centres between August and November 2017
  • Develop and monitor accountability framework between August 2017 and November 2018
  • Develop online child care registry between August and December 2017
  • Engage post-secondary institutions between September and November 2017
  • Phase-in NB Early Learning Centres between November 2017 and November 2018
  • Implement Centres of Excellence between February and July 2018

Evaluation Plan and Key Indicators/ Progress Monitoring Framework

It is anticipated that 50% of the first 300 designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres (representing an estimated 60% of the spaces) will be established in the Anglophone sector, and likewise 50% of the New Brunswick Early Learning Centres (representing an estimated 40% of the spaces) will be established in the Francophone sector, by the conclusion of the three-year bilateral agreement (i.e. 2019-2020). Ultimately, the goal is to have 100% of the designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres in each of the sectors demonstrate improved quality as measured by their individual ratings on the quality assessment tools. During the three years of the agreement, it is anticipated that 90% of the designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres will have improved by 25%.

Anglophone sector
Objective(s) Output(s) / Outcome(s) Indicator(s) Target(s) by the end of the agreement Principle(s) supported Schedule of initial reporting
Increasing the quality of early learning and child care services by strengthening and sustaining a highly competent and engaged workforce Quality programming for children Percentage of centres with designation with improved learning environment ratings 90% of NB Early Learning Centres will have improved their rating on the learning environment rating scales by at least 25% High quality Fall 2018
Facilities with designation Percentage of licensed facilities with  designation 50% of the first 300 NB Early Learning Centres. High quality Fall 2018
Professional development for early childhood educators Percentage of early childhood educators in  designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres with recognized early childhood education training 100% of NB early childhood educators in designated Early Learning Centres will have completed the 90 hour course  “Introduction to Early Childhood Education” High quality Fall 2018
Facilitate equitable and affordable access to high quality early learning and child care services Access to Anglophone licensed spaces Increase in the number of Anglophone infant licensed  spaces 60% of the 200 new infant spaces Accessible, affordable and flexible Fall 2018
Access to rural licensed spaces % of coverage  by community (as described by the  New Brunswick Health Council) 5 additional communities (75%) reach
13% coverage for infants.
9 additional communities (75%) reach 48% coverage for preschool.
Accessible, affordable and flexible Fall 2017
Access for low/middle income families Number of children benefiting from a funded space in a New Brunswick Early Learning Centre 6,080 (75%) of children are registered in a New Brunswick Early Learning Centre
3,890 (approx. 65%) of low and middle ($55,000 and under) income children registered in a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre
Accessible, affordable and flexible Fall 2018
Access to inclusive child care spaces for children with additional needs Number of children with additional needs benefiting from a funded space in an New Brunswick Early Learning Centre 60 (1.5%) of children registered in a New Brunswick Early Learning Centre are children with disabilities and diverse needs who require extra resources. Inclusive Fall 2018
    Percentage of facilities with an Inclusion Policy 80% of all facilities with an Inclusion policy Inclusive Fall 2017
Francophone sector
Objective(s) Output(s)
Outcome(s)
Indicator(s) Target(s) by the end of the Agreement Principle(s) Schedule of Initial Reporting
Increase the quality of services of preschools by supporting a highly-skilled and committed workforce Quality of children’s programming Percentage of designated centres that have a better learning environment (rating-based) 90% of NB’s early learning centres will see 25% improvements in their learning environment rating High quality Fall 2018
Established designation of early childhood centre Percentage of designated establishments 50% of the first 300 establishments High quality Fall 2018
Professional development of the early childhood educators Percentage of the early childhood educators, working in a designated Centre, who have formal training in early learning and child care 100% of the early childhood educators, working in a designated Centre, will have completed the 90-hour online course “Introduction to Early Childhood Education” High quality Fall 2018
Facilitate equal and affordable access to high quality early learning and child care services  Access to licensed French-language spaces Increase in the number of licensed French-language spaces 40% of the 200 new spaces for infants Accessibility Affordability and Flexibility Fall 2018
Access to rural licensed spaces  Percentage of coverage of places per community (as described by the New Brunswick Health Council) 5 additional communities (75%) achieve 13% coverage for infants
9 additional communities (75%) achieve 48% coverage for preschools
Accessibility Affordability and Flexibility Fall 2017
Access for low- and middle-income families Number of children benefiting from funded spaces in a NB Early Learning Centre 3,800 (75%) children are registered in NB’s Early Learning Centres.
2,430 (approximately 65%) of children from low- and middle-income families (under $55,000) are registered in a NB Early Childhood Centre.
Accessibility Affordability and Flexibility Fall 2018
Access to early childhood education services for children with additional needs  Number of children with additional or diverse needs who benefit from funded spaces in a NB Early Learning Centre 60 (1.5%) of children registered in NB Early Learning Centres are children with additional or diverse needs who require extra resources Inclusive Fall 2018
Percentage  of establishments with an inclusion policy 80% of establishments have an inclusion policy Inclusive Fall 2017
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