Canada – Northwest Territories 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

The Government of the Northwest Territories (hereinafter referred to as "the Northwest Territories" or "Government of Northwest Territories") as represented by the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment herein referred to as "territorial Minister")

Referred to collectively as the "Parties"

Preamble

Whereas, Canada and the Northwest Territories 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 Child Day Care Act authorizes the territorial Minister to enter in agreements with the Government of Canada under which Canada undertakes to provide funding toward costs incurred by the Government of the Northwest Territories 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, the Northwest Territories invests in early learning and child care for Indigenous children.

Now therefore, Canada and the Northwest Territories agree as follows:

1. Vision for Early Learning and Child Care

1.1 Canada and the Northwest Territories 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 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 the Northwest Territories agree that over the period of this Agreement, with financial support from Canada, the Northwest Territories 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:

  • Supporting the delivery of high quality early learning and child care experiences. One of the most significant elements affecting a child's early development, after the home environment and relationship with parents, is the provision of high quality early learning and child care. Quality early childhood education and care programs positively impact children's healthy development; allow for parents to return to the workforce who would not otherwise be able to work; and reduce social, special education and health care costs. Many of the actions within this three-year ELCC Bilateral Agreement and NWT action plan focus on fostering the development of high quality, culturally-relevant, early learning and child care environments.
  • Supporting culturally-relevant professional development and training for all staff working within licensed early childhood programs. Well-trained early childhood staff are able to provide developmentally appropriate programming and care that respects diversity and values all children and families. The GNWT currently provides professional development and training support for staff working in licensed programs. This is a current area of focus for the Department of ECE. There is a greater need for more focused and regular professional development and training opportunities offered by the Department of ECE. Through this Bilateral Agreement the GNWT will further support professional development and training opportunities for staff working within licensed early childhood programs and will include innovative methods, such as the use of technology and focused on-the-job training, to compensate for the high costs associated with travel between northern communities. This will also assist with participation of staff living in small communities, as it may be difficult for staff to leave their community to attend training without closing their program.
  • Increasing the number of qualified early childhood development professionals in licensed programs. High quality early childhood programs require well-trained and knowledgeable educators. Capacity in the early childhood development workforce varies widely. Some early childhood development staff have a one-year early childhood development certificate, with many having no post-secondary education whatsoever. This ELCC Bilateral Agreement supports actions that will assist with expanding initiatives, such as a Scholarship for students currently enrolled in a post-secondary program in early childhood development and supporting Aurora College to expand and redesign their diploma program in early childhood development for residents of the NWT.
  • Supporting access to early learning and child care opportunities within all communities in the NWT. The Territorial implementation of Junior Kindergarten during the 2017-2018 school year provides all parents of 4-year old children with an option to access high quality early learning program. Research shows that high quality early learning and child care programs positively impact children's development and that these programs make the most difference for vulnerable children. Recognizing these benefits and the need to ensure all communities in the NWT can equitably benefit from high quality early learning and child care that meets the needs of their community, the Department of ECE is committed to supporting access to early learning and child care opportunities, with a particular focus on supporting programs that provide afterschool care for four and five-year old children, licensed early childhood programs that offer care for children from birth to three years old, as well as supporting the development of programs within communities that currently do not have access licensed early childhood programs.

The Northwest Territories' 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 The Northwest Territories agrees to prioritize funds provided by Canada under this Agreement in regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under the age of six where:

  • Regulated programs and services are defined as those that meet standards that are established and/or monitored by provincial/territorial governments.
  • 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, the Northwest Territories agrees to take into account the needs of official language minority communities in the Northwest Territories, as "official language" is understood under Canada's Official Languages Act.

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 the Northwest Territories in implementing and administering this Agreement.

2.2.4 Canada and the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories 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, as "official language" is understood under Canada's Official Languages Act.

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 hereof 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 The renewal will provide the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories through the Canada Social Transfer in order to support early childhood development and early learning and child care within the Northwest Territories.

4.2 Allocation to the Northwest Territories

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.

  • $399,669,692 for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2017
  • $399,347,695 for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2018
  • $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, the Northwest Territories' estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.1 will be:

Northwest Territories' estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.1
Fiscal year Estimated amount to be paid to the Northwest Territories * (subject to annual adjustment)
2017-2018 $2,453,191
2018-2019 $2,452,801
2019-2020 $2,452,801

*Illustrative levels based on July 2017 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 in section 3.2.1.

4.2.3 The final yearly amount to be paid to the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories, 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 the Northwest Territories 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 semi annual installments as follows:

The total payment for fiscal year 2017-2018 will be paid within 30 days after the signatures from both parties are affixed to the Agreement.

In 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, the first installment will be paid on or about June 15 of each fiscal year and 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 the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories 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.

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 the Northwest Territories' administration costs referred to in section 2.2.3 shall not exceed:

In fiscal years 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020 an amount up to 10% of the maximum amount payable for those fiscal years.

4.6 Carry forward

4.6.1 At the request of the Northwest Territories and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, the Northwest Territories may retain and carry forward to fiscal year 2018-2019, an amount of up to 50% of the contribution paid to the Northwest Territories for fiscal year 2017-2018 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of the eligible costs actually incurred by the Northwest Territories 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 in the subsequent fiscal year.

4.6.2 For greater certainty, any amount carried forward to fiscal year 2018-2019 under this section is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to the Northwest Territories 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. The Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, the Northwest Territories may retain and carry forward to fiscal year 2019-2020, an amount of up to 10% of the contribution paid to the Northwest Territories for fiscal year 2018-2019 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of the eligible costs actually incurred by the Northwest Territories 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 in the subsequent fiscal year.

4.6.5 For greater certainty, any amount carried forward to fiscal year 2019-2020 under this section is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to the Northwest Territories 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. The Northwest Territories 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 2019-20 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 the Northwest Territories exceed the amount to which the Northwest Territories is entitled under the 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 the Northwest Territories agree that funds provided under this Agreement will only be used by the Northwest Territories in accordance with the areas for investment outlined in section 2.2 of this Agreement.

4.8.2 Canada and the Northwest Territories agree that, within each fiscal year of the period of this Agreement, the Northwest Territories may move funding between the individual programming categories outlined in its action plan in Annex 2 to ensure the maximum use of funding. The Northwest Territories 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 The Northwest Territories 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, the Northwest Territories will publicly release their action plan which:

  • 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;
  • Describes how the Northwest Territories 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;
  • Outlines their planned innovation spending;
  • Demonstrates that federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing Northwest Territories early learning and child care spending, in particular spending dedicated to Indigenous populations;
  • Outlines the indicators that will be reported on annually according to their planned investments;
  • Identifies specific targets for each indicator that will be reported on annually for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement;
  • Identifies additional jurisdiction-specific indicators for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement;
  • 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 The Northwest Territories 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 The Northwest Territories agrees to provide all available baseline data on the agreed-to indicators within 30 calendar days following the signing of this Agreement.

5.2.2 Beginning in 2018-2019 and by no later than October 1 of the subsequent fiscal year during the Period of this Agreement, the Northwest Territories agrees to:

  1. Report to the people of the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories. 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-Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories in developing and administering ELCC programs under section 2.2.3;
    4. If applicable, the amount of any amount carried forward by the Northwest Territories under section 4.6; and
    5. If applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be repaid to Canada under section 4.7.

The financial statement shall be prepared in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the audit shall be performed by the Northwest Territories Auditor General or his/her delegate, or by an independent public accounting firm registered under the laws of the Northwest Territories and shall be conducted in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.

5.2.3 Canada, with prior notice to the Northwest Territories, 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 The Northwest Territories will ensure that expenditure information presented in the annual report is, in accordance with the Northwest Territories' standard accounting practices, complete and accurate.

5.4 Evaluation

5.4.1 As per established policies and processes with respect to program effectiveness, the Northwest Territories will 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 the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories 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 reserves the right to conduct public communications, announcements, events, outreach and promotional activities about the Framework and bilateral agreements. Canada agrees to give the Northwest Territories 10 days advance notice of public communications related to the Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

7.4 The Northwest Territories reserves the right to conduct public communications, announcements, events, outreach and promotional activities about the Framework and bilateral agreements. The Northwest Territories 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.

8. Dispute resolution

8.1 Canada and the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories, as the case may be, may notify the other party in writing of the failure or breach. Upon such notice, Canada and the Northwest Territories 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 the Northwest Territories most responsible for early learning and child care, and if it cannot be resolved by them, then the respective federal Minister and territorial Minister shall endeavour to resolve the dispute.

9. Amendments to the Agreement

9.1 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 the Northwest Territories, by the territorial Minister.

10. Equality of treatment

10.1 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 the Northwest Territories, any provision of that agreement or amended agreement is more favourable to that province or territory than terms set forth in this Agreement, Canada agrees to amend this Agreement in order to afford similar treatment to the Northwest Territories, if requested by the Northwest Territories. 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 Agreement or the amendment to such an Agreement with the other province or territory, as the case may be, comes into force.

10.2 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.

11. Termination

11.1 Canada may terminate this Agreement at any time if the terms of this Agreement are not respected by the Northwest Territories by giving at least 12 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 the Northwest Territories after the date of effective termination.

12. Notice

12.1 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, QC  K1A 0J9

The address for notice or communication to the Northwest Territories shall be:

PO Box 1320
Yellowknife, NT  X1A 2L9

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 Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, Annex 1, concluded on June 12, 2017.

13.3 This Agreement shall be interpreted according to the laws of Canada and the Northwest Territories.

13.4 No member of the House of Commons or of the Senate of Canada or of the Legislature of the Northwest Territories 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 Gatineau this 5th day of February, 2018.

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

Signed on behalf of the Northwest Territories by the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment at Yellowknife this 14th day of February, 2018.

The Honourable Alfred Moses, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment

Annex 1: Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Most Responsible for Early Learning and Child Care agreeFootnote 1 on 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: Northwest Territories action plan

The early years, from birth to age five, are among the most critical for a child's development. These early years provide an essential opportunity to nurture and support the healthy, social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of young children. Research tells us that positive experiences in early childhood directly impact children's chances to lead healthy, successful and balanced lives. This entails a critical responsibility for the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) to take action and support families and children in their early years. There is a collective benefit in investing and supporting young children and their families. Supports provided now will benefit future generations in the NWT, as these young children will grow to become healthy, productive and contributing citizens that are able to share their skills, talents and services.

From small, fly-in communities, to larger regional centres, each of the 33 vibrant communities within the Northwest Territories (NWT) has vastly differing early learning and child care needs. Home to eleven official languages, including Chipewyan, Cree, English, French, Gwich'in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey and Tlicho, the people of the NWT represent multiple cultural belief systems and values. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, fulfilling early learning and child care needs in the NWT is based upon meeting individual community needs. It then becomes important to develop a plan that is both flexible and grounded within a common vision of supporting families with children from birth to five years of age in all NWT communities with high quality early learning and child care that is accessible, affordable and inclusive.

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) supports all communities in their endeavors to provide a variety of early childhood programming that best meets their unique situation. For some communities, this means full-time licensed early childhood programs that are centre-based or family day homes; for others, the best way to support parents and children may be a part-time parent and tot drop-in program offered several times per week. This Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Bilateral Agreement and NWT action plan recognizes the individual needs of each community and offers flexible options to assist in meeting the early learning and child care needs unique to each community. Improving the accessibility of licensed child care that is tailored to community needs provides young children and their families with options to access high quality early learning and care environments and allows parents and caregivers to feel supported and confident that their children are safe, happy and thriving.

Early Learning and Child Care in the NWT: Indication of need

Positive early experiences have a huge impact on children's chances to lead healthy, successful and balanced lives. The early years provide the most critical opportunity to take action and prevent negative experiences and circumstances from impacting children for the rest of their lives while promoting opportunities for quality early learning experiences that promote healthy child development.

Northern families

According to the NWT Bureau of Statistics, the total population of the NWT in 2016 was 44,469, with 22,013 (approximately 50%) identifying as Indigenous. Within these statistics, it must also be noted that each of the thirty-three communities within the NWT has very different realities. The population of Yellowknife in 2016 represented 47% of the entire NWT population, with 20,960 residents. This is in stark comparison to the other regional centres and small communities that comprise the majority of the territory, with the smallest community, Kakisa, having a population of less than 50 people.

In 2016, the NWT was home to 3,221 children aged four years and younger. Additionally, the NWT has a higher birth rate than the rest of Canada. In 2013, the NWT birth rate was 15.1 per 1000 people, compared to the Canadian average of 10.8 births per 1000 people.

Teen pregnancy continues to remain higher in the NWT than the Canadian rate, at 6.3 births per 100 females (aged 15-19) as compared to 3.1 births per 100 females (aged 15-19) in Canada.

Two parent families make up approximately 30% of private households and remain the most common family type in the NWT. Single parent households represent 11% of all families. There are an increasing number of blended families in the NWT where one or both partners bring children into their relationships.

What the data tells us

The NWT is comprised of 33 communities located within five regions (North Slave, South Slave, Sahtu, Dehcho and Beaufort Delta). Within these five regions, there are the five regional centres of Inuvik, Fort Smith, Hay River, Norman Wells and Fort Simpson and the remaining 28 communities are considered to be small communities in this context. However, when compared to other provinces and territories, most of the communities in the NWT would be considered small.

Statistics show that in many ways, children and families in the NWT are in greater need of equitable access to high quality early learning and child care when compared to other jurisdictional and national averages.

Relative to the rest of Canada, NWT children are more likely to be exposed to negative experiences and circumstances that impact their development. It is difficult to quantify the number of children growing up in circumstances that put them at risk. One measure may be the rate of women going to shelters. In the NWT, we have approximately five times the national average of women and children going to shelters. Another relative measure is the rate of police reported violent crime by an intimate partner. According to Statistics Canada, in 2015, there were 2,575 police reported violent crimes committed by an intimate partner per 1,000,000 people in the NWT, compared to 309 per 1,000,000 people in Canada.

Additionally, baseline data from the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a measure of children's developmental health at school entry, found that 38% per cent of five-year old children in the NWT are vulnerable in the areas of social, emotional, physical, language and cognitive, communication and general knowledge and language development at school entry. EDI results also suggest that NWT children in small communities are vulnerable in their early years where the percentage of children behind in one or more areas of their development is as high as 53%.

Small communities in the NWT have fewer options available for high quality programs, services and supports for children in the early years compared to what is available in the regional centres and Yellowknife. In fact, there are currently eleven communities in the NWT without access to any licensed early childhood programs.

Data provided from licensed early childhood program attendance records also provides insight into the utilization of these programs. Utilization data indicates that several communities experience low attendance rates for their licensed early childhood programs. Although many of these programs do not charge parent fees, there is a need to explore why parents are not accessing the programs. In contrast, some communities, such as Yellowknife, are in a situation where the population of children from birth to three years old significantly exceeds the licensed child care spaces available; thus, creating a high demand for licensed child care services.

Consultation

While evidence and research play a key role in shaping the GNWT's actions, so too does the knowledge and insight of early childhood education stakeholders. Since late, the GNWT has engaged in public discussions on early childhood development, learning, and care through roundtable discussions, on-line surveys, webinars, home visits, regional meetings, focus groups, and sharing circles, parents, community members, Elders, early childhood professionals and other stakeholders have provide their thoughts and ideas for the future of childhood development in the NWT. Within the NWT context, stakeholders are always representative and include French and Indigenous participants.

Engagement with a wide range of people with an interest in early childhood development called upon the GNWT to create an integrated, sustainable, and affordable system of supports for young children and their parents. That system needs to be culturally sensitive and relevant, and delivered by a professional workforce of highly skilled and well-compensated early childhood staff. And finally, stakeholders advised that early childhood programs should focus particularly on meeting children's emotional and social needs.

Right from the start framework and action plans

In 2013, the Departments of Health and Social Services (HSS) and ECE released a joint ten year Framework for Early Childhood Development: Right from the Start (Right from the Start Framework). It is based on a comprehensive community engagement process that included parents and caregivers, Elders, early childhood experts and northern leaders.

Right from the start: What has been achieved

Since the release of the Right from the start framework in 2013, ECE has completed a number of actions that assist with improving access to high quality early learning and child care opportunities throughout the NWT, including:

  • Early Childhood staff grant to increase the financial income of early childhood staff in licensed centre-based early childhood programs and to offer an incentive to attract new professionals to the early childhood workforce.
  • Early Childhood scholarships to help offset the costs for NWT students attending full-time, on-site diploma or degree programs in the field of early childhood development.
  • Changes to the Early Childhood Program (ECP) Funding model including attendance-based funding for all licensed early childhood programs. The changes to the ECP funding include a significant increase to funding for infant and special needs spaces to offset the higher staff costs for these groups.
  • Territorial implementation of junior kindergarten for all four year olds.

Vision for future directions

The GNWT recognizes that all children in the NWT deserve the best possible care, nurturing and support right from the start so that they can develop physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually and grow up to become healthy and productive members of their communities and society.

The Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework sets the foundation for governments to work toward a shared long term vision where all children can experience the enriching environment of quality early learning and child care that supports children's development to reach their full potential. Guided by the Principles set under the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, this three-year ELCC Bilateral Agreement and NWT action plan, shows a commitment toward investments to increase quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care, with consideration of those more in need. Additionally, the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework recognizes diversity and promotes early learning and child care systems that are respectful of language and culture, including the unique needs of French minority communities and Indigenous people.

Through the three-year ELCC Bilateral Agreement and NWT action plan, the GNWT has identified the following areas of priority:

  1. Support for the delivery of high quality early learning and child care experiences.

    One of the most significant elements affecting a child's early development, after the home environment and relationship with parents, is the provision of high quality early learning and child care. Quality early childhood education and care programs positively impact children's healthy development; allow for parents to return to the workforce who would not otherwise be able to work; and reduce social, special education and health care costs. Many of the actions within this three-year ELCC Bilateral Agreement and NWT action plan focus on fostering the development of high quality, culturally-relevant, early learning and child care environments.
  2. Support culturally-relevant professional development and training for all staff working within licensed early childhood programs.

    Well-trained early childhood staff are able to provide developmentally appropriate programing and care that respects diversity and values all children and families. The GNWT currently provides professional development and training support for staff working in licensed programs. This is a current area of focus for the Department of ECE. There is a greater need for more focused and regular professional development and training opportunities offered by the Department of ECE. Through this Bilateral Agreement the GNWT will further support professional development and training opportunities for staff working within licensed early childhood programs and will include innovative methods, such as the use of technology and focused on-the-job training, to compensate for the high costs associated with travel between northern communities. This will also assist with participation of staff living in small communities, as it may be difficult for staff to leave their community to attend training without closing their program.
  3. Increase the number of qualified early childhood development professionals in licensed programs.

    High quality early childhood programs require well-trained and knowledgeable educators. Capacity in the early childhood development workforce in the NWT varies widely. Some early childhood development staff have a one-year early childhood development certificate, with many having no post-secondary education whatsoever. This ELCC Bilateral Agreement supports actions that will assist with expanding initiatives, such as a Scholarship for students currently enrolled in a post-secondary program in early childhood development and supporting Aurora College to expand and redesign their diploma program in early childhood development for residents of the NWT.
  4. Support access to early learning and child care opportunities within all communities in the NWT.

    The territorial implementation of junior kindergarten during the 2017-2018 school year provides all parents of four year old children with an option to access high quality early learning program. Research shows that high quality early learning and child care programs positively impact children's development and that these programs make the most difference for vulnerable children. Recognizing these benefits and the need to ensure all communities in the NWT can equitably benefit from high quality early learning and child care that meets the needs of their community. The Department of ECE is committed to supporting access to early learning and child care opportunities, with a particular focus on supporting programs that provide afterschool care for four and five-year old children, licensed early childhood programs that offer care for children from birth to three years old, as well as supporting the development of programs within communities that currently do not have access licensed early childhood programs.

ELCC action plan for the Northwest Territories

The 2016 Federal Budget committed $400M in 2017-2018 to support the establishment of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Framework with provinces and territories. Additionally, the 2017 Federal Budget committed $7B over 10 years, starting in 2018-2019. A portion of this investment will be dedicated to improving access to culturally appropriate early learning and child care programs for all Indigenous children. The notional allocation for the Northwest Territories over 3 years is $7,358,793 (actual allocations may vary according to the latest annual population estimates):

  • 2017-2018: $2,453,191
  • 2018-2019: $2,452,801
  • 2019-2020: $2,452,801

The NWT proposed to utilize the notional allocation from the Government of Canada toward investments in early learning and child care in two main areas; improving quality and access to early learning and child care in the NWT, with particular consideration for small communities, including those that are currently without any licensed early childhood programs. These areas of investment are aligned with the principles of quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity, as outlined within the Multilateral ELCC Framework. Indigenous children and Francophone communities will also be supported through the ELCC Bilateral Agreement and NWT action plan.

The notional allocation for the NWT for three years is $7,358,793 and estimated to be invested as follows, in accordance with the agreed upon carry over provisions:

ELCC Action plan for the Northwest Territories 2017-2018 ($) 2018-2019 ($) 2019-2020 ($) Total
Areas of focus: high quality
Professional development and training 120,191 517,801 538,551 1,176,543
Cultural resource development and distribution 50,000 50,000 60,000 160,000
Postsecondary learning opportunities within the NWT 499,500 520,500 492,250 1,512,250
Scholarships 15,000 80,000 100,000 195,000
Health and safety funding 75,000 155,000 130,000 360,000
Provider enhancement grant 90,000 80,000 90,000 260,000
Areas of focus: accessibility
Community connections 25,000 140,000 60,000 225,000
Centre-based program funding 800,000 800,000 800,000 2,400,000
Funding for new child care spaces 100,000 130,000 120,000 350,000
Other:
Program support 240,000 240,000 240,000 720,000
Total 2,014,691 2,713,301 2,630,801 7,358,793

It should be noted that the amounts shown each year in this table are not exactly the same as the notional amounts as this table reflects the anticipated carry forward as per the Bilateral Agreement.

The following is a discussion for each of the activities under the Areas of Focus.

Area of focus: high quality

High quality early learning and child care programs are grounded in culturally sensitive and current evidence-based practices that positively impact a child's healthy development. Studies indicate that participation in high quality early childhood programs may be of particular benefit for children who are vulnerable and at-risk.

One way to foster high quality early learning and child care is to support the development of a qualified early childhood workforce. Through the Right from the Start Framework and subsequent action plans, the GNWT has committed to supporting the professional development of staff working within licensed centre-based early childhood programs, as well as promoting future workforce development by supporting students currently enrolled in early childhood programs.

Well-trained early childhood educators with the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver high quality programs, make a significant difference in the development of children in their care. The NWT is home to approximately 220 staff working within licensed early childhood programs, with 40% of licensed centre-based programs located within regional centres and small communities. Many of the staff working within these licensed programs are from the local community, providing an invaluable connection, not only to the community, but also to its local culture and language.

Currently, a large proportion of staff working in licensed early childhood programs do not have formal post-secondary training in early childhood development. There are several challenges with pursuing post-secondary education when living and working in the NWT. Challenges of leaving the community, as well as with bandwidth issues when accessing distance studies, have historically been barriers to those wishing to seek post-secondary education opportunities. Although Aurora College offers a certificate program in early childhood development through distance studies, courses are offered on a rotating basis, which can lead to delays in program completion.

The ELCC Bilateral Agreement and NWT action plan will assist the GNWT to support the development of a qualified workforce within the NWT by providing current staff working within licensed early childhood programs that are centre-based with training and professional learning opportunities, as well as supports to encourage Northerners to pursue post-secondary education in the field of early childhood development.

The GNWT proposes to improve quality in licensed child care programs through the following actions:

Professional development and training

Through the funding made available in support of the Bilateral Agreement, the Department of ECE proposes to coordinate and provide consistent and on-going flexible training opportunities that are relevant to the unique settings of each licensed early childhood program. Considering the potential geographical barriers, including the expense of northern travel, professional development and training opportunities will be delivered in a variety of ways, which may include:

  • online courses, including options that lead to a certificate or diploma in early childhood education;
  • face-to-face learning workshops;
  • online webinars and video conferencing;
  • on-the-job training;
  • face-to-face and virtual mentorship;
  • book clubs;
  • formal post-secondary recognition of training that leads towards an Early Childhood Diploma.

A key element involved with providing sustainable support and training options for staff working within licensed centre-based early childhood programs is to ensure that the department has staff dedicated to facilitating and overseeing these initiatives. The creation of two departmental early childhood positions within the Department of Education, Culture and Employment will be dedicated to facilitating staff training, including joint problem-solving and on-going mentorship and providing on-going support for staff working in licensed centre-based early childhood programs across the NWT. This requires staff who are able to travel to each of the 33 communities. As always in the NWT, professional development and training opportunities will be available in both of Canada's official languages, and where possible in official Indigenous languages, to recognize the importance of providing high quality ELCC services to children in their language.

The cultural and geographical diversity of the NWT calls for innovative strategies to support the early learning and child care needs of communities. While some training has been possible in the past, at a territorial level and on-request, ability to provide coordinated training is limited due to capacity issues. Coordinated and consistent training is essential to improve quality in licensed early childhood programs. The GNWT does not currently implement a formal training and professional development plan for staff working in licensed early childhood programs. Through this ELCC Bilateral Agreement, ECE will develop a new comprehensive training plan for early childhood professionals working in licensed early childhood programs that are grounded in the varied cultures of the citizens of the NWT. The training will be delivered in a variety of innovative ways utilizing technology to access small, isolated communities and will include innovative ways of accessing technology in a variety of ways, which may include: online courses; online webinars and video conferencing; virtual mentorship; virtual book clubs; and/or support online and distance studies toward post-secondary training in early childhood development.

The two new positions are integral to the development and delivery of the new comprehensive training plan. In order to support the adult learners employed in the licensed programs, some face-to-face training is required, as well as ongoing support provided through a variety of methods (e.g., webinars, teleconferences, resource development). Ongoing mentorship is a key aspect of the transfer of knowledge and skills in early learning and child care and transition of that knowledge into the daily actions of licensed early childhood staff. These positions will model and provide real-time feedback to licensed early childhood staff to support them in utilizing best practices. Without these positions, the new comprehensive training plan cannot be developed or implemented.

The professional development and training opportunities will be available to all staff working within licensed early childhood programs in the NWT. All staff working in licensed early childhood programs who participate in the professional development and training would stand to benefit from this action, as would all of the children who are provided licensed care by those staff who participated. This initiative is expected to directly benefit as many as 220 staff working in licensed early childhood programs directly and indirectly benefiting 100% of children participating in the programs where staff participated in professional development and training work.

The total investment over three years: $1,176,543.

Cultural resource development and distribution

As part of developing a quality learning environment that is culturally responsive, the Department of ECE proposes to support the development and distribution of cultural resources, such as music in Indigenous languages, as well as books and other play-based materials that are reflective of Indigenous beliefs and culture for licensed centre-based early childhood programs. Additionally, as always in the NWT, resources will also be available and distributed in French to licensed centre-based early childhood programs in Francophone communities. These resources will be used as part of professional development and distributed after programs have been involved with collaborative training regarding the implementation and use of these materials.

The cultural resources will be shared with all licensed centre-based programs in the NWT, with as many as 59 programs standing to benefit from this initiative. As many as 1,794 children participating in NWT licensed early childhood programs stand to benefit from this action.

The total investment over three years: $160,000.

Post-secondary learning opportunities within the NWT

Aurora College provides northerners with options to pursue post-secondary education within the NWT. Currently, ECE funds Aurora College to deliver a part-time distance certificate program in Early Childhood Development which allows individuals in the 33 communities of the NWT, many of whom are already working in the early childhood field, to participate in a program of studies and make progress toward a credential.

The current certificate program has some limitations, which include the part-time nature of distance studies, as well as the limited number of courses that can be offered each year. In addition to the distance program, with two years of single-year funding from its Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) partners in the NWT, the College has been able to successfully offer the Certificate program face-to-face to a cohort of students in Inuvik in each of the last two academic years (2015-2016 and 2016-2017). The students in the two cohorts have been drawn primarily from the Beaufort-Delta region.

ELCC funding from the Federal Government will support Aurora College in the delivery of a full-time face-to-face two-year diploma program in Early Childhood Care and Learning. Funding received from the ELCC Bilateral Agreement will support the enhancement of an NWT-based Diploma program that addresses the cultural contexts of the NWT and is current in concept, curriculum and presentation in the field of early childhood care. ECE funding will continue to support the part-time Certificate delivery until a program review and planning process is completed to determine future delivery of this program.

Students who completed the Certificate will have the opportunity to complete a diploma year in Inuvik, NT using the first year of funding (2017-2018). This full-time delivery is the first time that a diploma year has been offered in the NWT. All students attending the Inuvik delivery are part of the cohort that previously completed the requirements of the face-to-face delivery of the Early Childhood Development Certificate sponsored by ASETS partners in Inuvik within the last two years.

The subsequent years (2018-19 and 2019-20) of funding will support the delivery of a full-time face-to-face two-year diploma program in Yellowknife. This Yellowknife offering is the first time there will be commitment to two years of education leading to a diploma credential.

As many as 25 students stand to benefit from these program deliveries which will result in the potential of hiring staff with post-secondary education in early childhood with credentials that allow them to work in licensed programs throughout the NWT.

The total investment over three years: $1,512,250.

Early childhood scholarships

Currently, ECE offers up to ten Early Childhood Scholarships to post-secondary students enrolled in full-time early childhood post-secondary program at the diploma level or above. These scholarships are currently oversubscribed. The Department of ECE anticipates this demand will further grow with the proposed expansion of offering a full-time post-secondary diploma program through Aurora College. ELCC funding will be used to increase the number of scholarships offered to support students enrolled in early childhood education programs from ten up to a total of thirty annual scholarships.

As many as twenty additional students pursuing post-secondary education in early childhood development stand to benefit from this action annually (i.e., 60 scholarships awarded over three years).

The total investment over three years: $195,000.

Health and safety funding

This fund will assist existing licensed centre-based early childhood programs and family day homes with the cost of health and safety repairs and maintenance as directed by annual inspections. These repairs and maintenance must be completed in order to maintain a license to operate an early childhood program in the NWT and can prove to be a costly endeavor in the north. Smaller communities have increased costs for shipping resources and materials required to meet health and safety requirements. In addition, there tend to be higher costs associated with hiring tradespeople to complete minor repairs/installations, for example, sprinkler systems. This type of funding is currently not provided by the GNWT, and health and safety funding will assist licensed centre-based early childhood programs in meeting licensing requirements in order to remain open while maintaining a safe and quality environment.

This funding will be based on demand and 100% of licensed programs that require these repairs and maintenance will receive funding for up to $10,000 per program. Up to 28 licensed early childhood programs serving up to 450 children could benefit from this funding over three years.

The total investment over three years: $360,000.

Provider Enhancement Grant

The Provider Enhancement Grant (PEG) will assist licensed early childhood centre-based programs to purchase or replace equipment, such as high chairs, car seats, playground equipment, furniture and other learning materials that support quality play-based environments. The GNWT currently provides the ECP subsidy to assist with offsetting operational costs for licensed early childhood programs. It is important to note that operational costs in the NWT are often higher than in other areas of Canada. This is due to the higher costs of utilities, food and shipping materials in the North. This subsidy does not currently provide licensed programs with funding to replace equipment and other materials. As all licensed centre-based early childhood programs operate as non-profit, purchasing and replacement of these materials is currently a difficult endeavor. Since quality materials are an important aspect of a quality early childhood environment, all licensed centre-based early childhood programs, which in the NWT always include programs that service Indigenous children and Francophone communities, will have the option to apply to receive this funding as a grant. This will assist licensed centre-based programs with replacement of quality equipment without increasing fees to parents.

This funding will be based on demand and 100% of licensed centre-based early childhood programs who are approved for the PEG will benefit from this action. Up to 59 licensed childcare centres serving up 1,386 children could benefit from this funding over three years.

The total investment over three years: $260,000.

Area of focus: accessibility

As of September 2017, the NWT has 110 licensed early childhood programs with a total of 1,150 potential child care spaces available for children from birth to five years old. An additional 644 out-of-school spaces provide afterschool care programs for children five to eleven years old. Although this plan will support out of school spaces for four and five year old children, the current methods of gathering attendance data does not require programs to report ages of the students attending. The Department is currently working on a way to capture this information and it will be available for reporting for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. However, since the introduction of Junior Kindergarten programs increased the need to expand the current out-of-school care program to include four year old children, some initiatives designed to benefit four and five year olds may incidentally benefit older children.

Number of licensed programs

Number of licensed programs
Region Centre Out of school Family day home Preschool Total
Beaufort Delta 6 2 3 3 14
Deh Cho 2 1 0 2 5
North Slave 8 17 35 7 67
Sahtu 1 0 0 2 3
South Slave 2 1 13 5 21
Total 19 21 51 19 110

Data valid as of October 24, 2017

Number of child places

Number of child places
Region Infant Preschool Out of school Total
Beaufort Delta 59 183 122 364
Deh Cho 22 50 30 102
North Slave 148 422 438 1008
Sahtu 8 51 0 59
South Slave 33 174 54 261
Total 270 880 644 1,794

Data valid as of October 24, 2017

Based on the 2016 population estimates from the NWT Bureau of Statistics, the population of children aged birth to five years old in the NWT is approximately 3905. A total of 1103 students are enrolled in JK and K for the 2017-2018 school year; however, it should be noted, that JK and K are provided as optional programs for parents, therefore not all four and five year old children will be included in these calculations. It is also at the discretion of local education authorities whether to offer JK and K as a full or half-day program and this total includes both full and half-day programming.

The focus of improving access to early learning and child care not only includes supporting the development of new child care spaces, but also supporting actions to enable current licensed early childhood programs that are centre-based to increase utilization rates and improve access to child care in underserved communities. A particular area of attention will be upon the eleven communities that currently do not have access to any licensed early childhood programs.

The GNWT proposes to improve the accessibility of licensed child care programs through the following actions:

Community connections

To assist with identifying early learning and child care needs, ECE will engage with communities to identify gaps and opportunities for early learning and child care options, assist with raising awareness and knowledge of the importance of early childhood development and support communities with improving the accessibility of early learning and child care programs that best meet the needs of their community. There is a particular need to focus upon the eleven communities that currently have no licensed early childhood programs. ECE will connect with communities with the intention of building relationships with community members and showcasing the importance of early childhood development with the intention of supporting communities to implement licensed child care programs that meet their needs. Rather than a one-size fits all approach to early learning and child care, licensed early learning and child care programs are delivered in a variety of settings in the NWT, including:

  • Licensed Centre-based Early Childhood Programs:
    • These encompass traditional child care and preschool programs, such as Montessori or Aboriginal Head Start, which may be offered as full and/or part time programming. These programs are operated by non-profit organizations and are required to have a board of directors.
  • Licensed Family Day Homes (FDH):
    • With licensed FDHs, an individual operator provides care and supervision to children in a home-based environment.
  • Licensed Out-of-School Programs:
    • These programs provide school-aged children, from 4 to 11 years old, with care outside of school hours. This can include before and after school care, as well as care for children on school professional development days or holidays. Typically, these programs are operated by non-profit organizations within school facilities or community recreation centres.

The Department of ECE anticipates engagement with all eleven communities that currently do not have licensed child care programs and, based on the demand resulting from this engagement; assist 100% of those communities requesting to access ELCC programs or funding. Those communities that identify a need for licensed childcare programming will have access to the funding, potentially resulting in the creation of up to 16 new child care spaces.

The total investment over three years: $225,000.

Centre-based program funding

Centre-based programs with out-of-school spaces

With the implementation of JK, there is an increased need for out-of-school care, including before and after school care, as well as care during teacher professional development days. Additionally, the recent introduction of the Strengthening Teacher Instructional Practice (STIP) initiative, which allows Education Authorities the option to direct up to 100 hours to teacher planning, assessment, collaborative practice, and ongoing professional development has increased the need for child care, especially for four and five year old children in schools.

Increasing funding for licensed centre-based early childhood programs will support the sustainability of current programs, as well as offer more parents an option to access out-of-school care, including before or after school care and increased access to full-day care during professional development days for children aged four and five. For some programs, the ability to receive increased funding will allow them to address staff shortages and support program stability. Although this funding is targeted to children aged four and five, children six-eleven years old attending out-of-school programs may also incidentally benefit. Funding increases include:

  • increased daily rates for before, after and out-of-school care (i.e., full day funding for professional development days and school breaks); and,
  • additional funding for children with identified specific needs;

This initiative is expected to benefit as many as 21 licensed early childhood programs that will support the sustainability of current programs and offer more parents an option to access out-of-school care.

Centre-based Programs with Preschool Spaces

In October 2016, ECE implemented increases to the daily operations subsidy rates for licensed early childhood programs. A larger proportion of the increase was dedicated to infant rates. Providing increased ECP funding rates for preschool spaces, for children aged two to five, in centre-based programs may incent the creation of new spaces, and will support existing spaces. Increasing attendance-based funding for centre-based early childhood programs that offer preschool spaces will provide stability to existing programs as well as support new programs in opening. The ECP Operating Subsidy assists operators of licensed early childhood programs in the NWT with maintaining quality environments and contributes to the financial viability and sustainability of these programs. The rate enhancement will be used to pay for operational and maintenance costs, including staffing, rent, and utilities which helps provide stability to licensed early childhood programs.

This initiative is expected to benefit as many as 38 centres by supporting the sustainability of current programs and offering more parents an option for access to care for preschool age children.

The total investment for Out-of-School and Preschool Spaces over three years: $2,400,000.

New child care spaces

A fund will be established to incent the creation of new licensed child care spaces in the NWT. All new programs would be eligible and the eleven communities without licensed early childhood programs would be able to access this funding. This application-based funding will assist with the creation of new licensed centre-based programs and family day homes by providing additional funding for the purchase of supplies, material and other costs incurred when setting up a new licensed program. This funding will also be available to programs who wish to re-profile spaces (for example: preschool to infant, based on community need).

The funding will be based on demand and 100% of operators approved for funding stand to benefit from this action with the potential creation of up to 100 new child care spaces.

The total investment over three years: $350,000.

Incremental funding

The Department of ECE's current overall spending in the area of Early Childhood Development is $8.9 million. The federal funds provided under this ELCC Bilateral Agreement will not displace current spending by the GNWT on early learning and child care. Funds received under the ELCC Framework will go towards creating, expanding and supplementing supports for early childhood education in the Northwest Territories.

NWT indicators (to be reported annually)

NWT indicators (to be reported annually)
Objective Principle supported Indicator(s) Data currently available Annual report
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Professional development and training Quality Number and proportion of providers participating in professional development and/or training

Number and proportion of providers adopting innovative new tools
No

No
TBD

TBD
Yes

Yes
Yes

Yes
Cultural resource
Development & distribution
Quality Number and proportion of providers adopting innovative new tools

Number of children participating in NWT licensed early childhood programs that have access to culturally appropriate ELCC resources
No

No
TBD

TBD
Yes

Yes
Yes

Yes
Post-secondary Learning Opportunities within the NWT Quality Number and proportion of licensed early childhood centre staff with postsecondary Early Childhood Education.

Number of individuals who completed the post-secondary Early Childhood diploma offered in the NWT.
No

No
TBD

TBD
Yes

Yes
Yes

Yes
Early Childhood Scholarships Quality Number and proportion of licensed early childhood centre staff with Early Childhood Education.

Number of scholarships awarded
No

Yes
TBD

Yes
Yes

Yes
Yes

Yes
Health and Safety Funding Quality Number of licensed child care programs/spaces who accessed Federal Health and Safety funding Yes Yes Yes Yes
Provider Enhancement Grant (PEG) Quality Number of licensed child care programs/spaces who accessed PEG Yes Yes Yes Yes
Community connections Accessibility Number and percentage of children who have access to licensed child care spaces and/or early learning programs.

Number of licensed early childhood programs
No

No
TBD

TBD
Yes

Yes
Yes

Yes
Centre-based programs with out-of-school spaces Accessibility Number of licensed child care out-of-school spaces for 4 and 5 year old children

Number of out-of-school programs receiving additional funding to support children with identified specific needs

Number of flexible early learning and child care arrangements for harder-to-serve population of children.
No

No

No
TBD

TBD

TBD
Yes

Yes

Yes
Yes

Yes

Yes
Centre-based programs with preschool spaces Accessibility Number of children benefiting from program and/or number of programs designed to serve children from diverse populations, which includes but is not limited to children from French linguistic minority communities.

Number and percentage of children who have access to licensed child care spaces and/or early learning programs.

Number of additional licensed child care preschool spaces created
No

No

No
TBD

TBD

TBD
Yes

Yes

Yes
Yes

Yes

Yes
Federal funding for new child care spaces Accessibility Number of new licensed programs that have accessed Federal Funding for new child care spaces.

Number of additional licensed child care preschool spaces created over the life of the agreement.
No

No
TBD

TBD
Yes

Yes
Yes

Yes

Targets

Below are the targets for the key indicators related to planned investments. Targets for the rest of the indicators are under development, including leveraging existing data and developing new data collection needs.

  • The investments related to Professional Development and Training will directly benefit as many as 220 staff working in licensed early childhood programs directly and indirectly benefitting 100% of children (as many as 1,794) participating in the licensed early childhood programming where those staff who participated in professional development and training work.
  • The cultural resources will be shared with all licensed centre-based programs in the NWT, with as many as 59 programs standing to benefit from this action. 100% of children (as many as 1,794) participating in NWT licensed early childhood programs stand to benefit from this action.
  • As many as 25 students stand to benefit from the full-time diploma deliveries in Inuvik and Yellowknife, resulting in the potential of hiring staff with post-secondary education in early childhood with credentials that allow them to work in licensed programs throughout the NWT.
  • Investments in the Early Childhood Scholarships Initiative will result in a maximum of 60 scholarships awarded.
  • Health and Safety will be based on demand and 100% of licensed programs that require these repairs and maintenance will receive funding for up to $10,000 per program. Up to 28 licensed early childhood programs serving 450 children could benefit from this funding over three years.Footnote 2
  • Provider Enhancement Grant (PEG) funding will be based on demand and 100% of licensed centre-based early childhood programs who are approved for the PEG will benefit from this action. Up to 59 licensed childcare centres serving 1386 children could benefit from this funding over three years.Footnote 3
  • Community connections funding will support engagement with all eleven communities that currently do not have licensed child care programs and, based on the demand resulting from this engagement; assist all of those communities requesting to access ELCC programs or funding. Those communities that identify a need for licensed childcare programming will have access to the funding, potentially resulting in the creation of 16 new child care spaces.Footnote 4
  • The investments in licensed centre-based early childhood programs with out-of-school spaces will result in as many as 21 licensed early childhood programs serving 644 children could benefit from funding that will support the sustainability of current programs and offer more parents an option to access out-of-school care.Footnote 5
  • The investments in licensed centre-based early childhood programs with preschool spaces will result in as many as 38 centres serving 880 children that could benefit from funding that will support the sustainability of current programs and offer more parents an option for access to care for preschool age children.Footnote 6
  • The investments in new child care spaces will be based on demand with the potential creation of up to 100 new child care spaces.

References

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