Canada – Nova Scotia 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 Canada (herein referred to as “the federal Minister”)

and

Her Majesty the Queen in right of Nova Scotia (hereinafter referred to as “Nova Scotia” or “Government of Nova Scotia”) 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 Nova Scotia 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 Public Service Act authorizes 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 Nova Scotia 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, Nova Scotia invests in early learning and child care for Indigenous children.

Now therefore, Canada and Nova Scotia agree as follows:

1. Vision for Early Learning and Child Care

1.1 Canada and Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia agree that over the period of this Agreement, with financial support from Canada, Nova Scotia 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. Making child care more accessible and affordable for Nova Scotian families
  2. Supporting quality through workforce development
  3. Imbedding inclusion in early learning and child care environments

Nova Scotia’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 Nova Scotia 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:

  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, Nova Scotia agrees to take into account the needs of official language minority communities in Nova Scotia.

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 Nova Scotia in implementing and administering this Agreement.

2.2.4 Canada and Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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 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 2020-21 to 2027-28 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia through the Canada Social Transfer in order to support early childhood development and early learning and child care within Nova Scotia.

4.2 Allocation to Nova Scotia

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, Nova Scotia’s estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.1 will be:

Fiscal year Estimated amount to be paid to Nova Scotia* (subject to annual adjustment)
2017-2018 $11,818,026
2018-2019 $11,809,566
2019-2020 $11,809,566

*Illustrative levels based on Canada’s population projections

Canada commits that the annual allocation for the period 2020-21 to 2027-28 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia, 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 Nova Scotia 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 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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 shall withhold payment of its second installment for the Fiscal Year if Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia’s administration costs referred to in section 2.2.3 shall not exceed:

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

4.6 Carry Forward

4.6.1 At the request of Nova Scotia and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, Nova Scotia may retain and carry forward to Fiscal Year 2018-2019, an amount of up to 50% of the contribution paid to Nova Scotia for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of the eligible costs actually incurred by Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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. Nova Scotia 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 2018-19 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 Nova Scotia and subject to the approval of Canada's Treasury Board, Nova Scotia may retain and carry forward to Fiscal Year 2019-2020, an amount of up to 10% of the contribution paid to Nova Scotia for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of the eligible costs actually incurred by Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2019-2020.

The amount carried forward, pursuant to section 4.6.4 must be spent by March 31, 2020. Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia exceed the amount to which Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia agree that funds provided under this Agreement will only be used by Nova Scotia in accordance with the areas for investment outlined in section 2.2 of this Agreement.

4.8.2 Canada and Nova Scotia agree that, within each Fiscal Year of the period of this Agreement, Nova Scotia may move funding between the individual programming categories outlined in its Action Plan in Annex 2 to ensure the maximum use of funding. Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia has completed and shared its Action Plan for the years 2017-18 – 2019-20 of federal funding with Canada, as set out in Annex 2. Upon signature of this Agreement by both Parties, Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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, Nova Scotia agrees to:

  1. Report to Canada on the results and expenditures of early learning and child care programs and services 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. This 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.
  3. Provide to Canada an Annual Report in the format and manner decided jointly by Canada and Nova Scotia. 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-Nova Scotia 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.
    7. For Year 1, Nova Scotia will provide all available data on the agreed-to indicators by no later than October 1, 2017.
  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 ELCC programs and services under section 2.2.
    3. The administration costs incurred by Nova Scotia in developing and administering ELCC programs under section 2.2.3
    4. If applicable, the amount of any amount carried forward by Nova Scotia under section 4.6.
    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 Nova Scotia Auditor General or his/her delegate, or by an independent public accounting firm registered under the laws of Nova Scotia and shall be conducted in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.

5.2.2 Canada, with prior notice to Nova Scotia, 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 Nova Scotia will ensure that expenditure information presented in the annual report is, in accordance with Nova Scotia’s standard accounting practices, complete and accurate.

5.4 Evaluation

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

6. Long-term collaboration

6.1 Canada and Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 10 days advance notice of public communications related to the Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

7.4 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia, as the case may be, may notify the other party in writing of the failure or breach. Upon such notice, Canada and Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia most responsible for early learning and child care, and if it cannot be resolved by them, then the respective federal Minister and Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia, by Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.

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 Nova Scotia, 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 Nova Scotia, if requested by Nova Scotia. 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia shall be:

Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
4-2021 Brunswick Street
Halifax NS  B3J 2S9

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 Nova Scotia.

13.4 No member of the House of Commons or of the Senate of Canada or of the Legislature of Nova Scotia 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 This Agreement is drafted in English at the request of the Parties. Les parties ont convenu que le présent Accord soit rédigé en anglais.

Signed on behalf of Canada by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development at Bedford, Nova Scotia this 10th day of January, 2018.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

Signed on behalf of Nova Scotia by the Premier at Bedford, Nova Scotia this 10th day of January, 2018.

The Honourable Stephen McNeil, Premier of Nova Scotia.

Signed on behalf of Nova Scotia by the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Education at Bedford, Nova Scotia this 10th day of January, 2018.

The Honourable Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Education.

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: Nova Scotia’s action plan

The 2016 Federal Budget committed $400M in 2017-18 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 early learning and child care programs for Indigenous children living on- and off-reserve. Nova Scotia’s notional allocations are (actual allocations may vary according to the latest annual population estimates):

  • 2017/18: $11,818,026
  • 2018/19: $11,809,566
  • 2019/20: $11,809,566

Early Learning and Child Care in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is committed to ensuring that children from birth to school entry and their families have increased access to comprehensive, integrated and culturally responsive early childhood development programs, resources and supports for healthy early childhood development and improved outcomes for all children. Responsibility for regulated child care in Nova Scotia was transferred from the Department of Community Services to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (Early Years Branch) in 2013.

Nova Scotia’s mandate with respect to the early years is to ensure that children from birth to school entry and their families have increased access to comprehensive, integrated and culturally responsive early childhood development programs, resources and supports. The mandate is achieved through three core areas of work: Early Childhood Development Services, Early Years Integration and Community Development, and Licensing Services.

Through the development of an integrated system of service delivery across the province, Early Years Branch is responsible for:

  • providing leadership, coordination and collaboration in the development of regulations, standards, policies and practices related to programs for children and their families from birth to school entry;
  • licensing of regulated child care facilities and family home day care agencies;
  • funding and program support to regulated child care facilities/staff;
  • establishing standards for Early Childhood Education training institutions and classification of those working in regulated child care facilities;
  • development and implementation of Early Years Centres (EYCs) and pre-primary programs;
  • coordination, collection and use of the Early Development Instrument data; and
  • cross governmental/sectorial collaboration with stakeholders who provide programs and services from birth to school entry.

Child care in Nova Scotia is delivered in non-profit and for-profit child care centres. Family Home Day Care Programs provide care options for children from birth to school age in private homes that are monitored by regulated Family Home Day Care Agencies.

Approximately 17,500, or 24%, of children in NS currently attend regulated child care programs through 384 child care centers and 15 family home day care agencies that support 235 regulated family homes.

Daily parent fees vary across the province with the highest rates being in the Halifax Area. See table below.

Provincial average fees (rounded, by region)
Region Infant Toddler Preschool
Full day Full day Full day
Central
(Halifax municipality)
$42.00 $37.00 $36.00
Eastern
(Cape Breton municipality)
$40.00 $31.00 $30.00
Northern NS $36.00 $33.00 $32.00
Western NS $34.00 $30.00 $30.00

In June 2016, the province introduced a limit on the amount by which child care centres can raise their fees. Centre fees are capped at 3% for those charging within 10% of regional average and at 1% for those charging 10% or more than the regional average. Centres can only increase parent fees on the anniversary date of their last fee increase.

Centres that require a parent fee increase that is greater than the 1% to 3%, due to operational pressures, can contact the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in writing with this request.

Rationale

Interdisciplinary research shows that early years are significant for lifelong health, well-being, and success. The trajectories for physical and mental health, future health concerns such as chronic disease and addictions, educational attainment, and potential later involvement with crime and the justice system are established early in life (McCain et al. 2007).

Accordingly, there are direct links between children’s engagement in quality early learning experiences and positive lifelong health and social outcomes.

Studies also show that brain development proceeds at a faster pace between conception and the first day of elementary school than during any other life stage (Nelson 1999; Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, 2012).

Providing a continuum of quality early learning and child care supports prior to school entry is key in reducing vulnerabilities and giving children a strong start. According to the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy (2012), components of high-quality child care programming include developmentally-appropriate curriculum, small group sizes and high adult-to-child ratios, a safe environment, adequate teacher training and family engagement.

Early Development Instrument (EDI) data shows that one in four Nova Scotian children now arrive at primary vulnerable in one or more developmental areas. Even with extra supports and remediation programs in school, it is often too late to change the learning trajectories established in early childhood (McCain et al. 2011).

Strategic Direction

For the past several years, Nova Scotia has been working to strengthen the regulated child care system across the province, focusing on concrete ways of providing quality, affordable, and accessible options for families while supporting and developing early childhood educators.

In 2015, the NS Government launched the first in-depth review of regulated child care ever undertaken in the province. The review included 18 recommendations shaped by consultation with more than 7,000 Nova Scotians, including parents, early childhood educators, child care centre operators, family home day care owners, early intervention partners, and early childhood education training institutions. These recommendations, along with evidence-based research, formed the basis of “Affordable, Quality Child Care: A Great Place to Grow!”, a report released in June 2016 that contains 27 strategic actions in 5 priority areas: affordability, quality, support and development of the workforce, accessibility, and structure and governance of the system.

In response to the review, in July 2016, the Province implemented new per diem rates for the child care subsidy program. This change provided families with more financial support to pay their child care fees. At the same time, the turning point for the program was increased from an annual family income of $20,880 to $25,000. This meant that 700 more families received the maximum per diem rate, which helped to close the gap between the subsidy rate and the actual cost of care. As a result of these changes, parents in receipt of the maximum subsidy rate would pay, on average, $10 per day for care versus the previous rate of $17 per day. In addition to these changes, the implementation of a cap on parent fees has helped to keep the gap between the maximum subsidy per diem rates and the actual cost of care as narrow as possible.

In October 2016, the Province introduced a wage floor for trained early childhood educators. This change guaranteed an hourly rate of $15.00 to $19.00 per hour based on the educator’s level of training.

The changes to the subsidy program and the new wage floor were made through a provincial investment of $6,000,000.

The review of regulated child care also led to a commitment by the Province to develop a new funding model for regulated child care. To this end, a funding model consultation was undertaken in November 2016. The Province invited early childhood education stakeholders, including Licensees (Owners and Board members), directors or administrators, trained ECEs, untrained or entry level staff and support staff, to participate in a survey. While the intent of the survey was to give stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback to inform the development of a new funding model for regulated child care, the feedback provided also linked directly to affordability, quality and accessibility, and has helped to inform the development of the action plan.

Both the child care review and the funding model consultation highlighted the importance of quality programming. Stakeholders told the Department that provincial funding for regulated child care should be directly linked to program quality. In response to this, the Department has developed an innovative quality measurement program called Quality Matters. The Quality Matters Program is an overarching province-wide initiative that will require all funded child care centres to engage in a Continuous Quality Improvement process. The Quality Matters Program is based on international evidence regarding the importance of quality in early learning and child care programs, and has been informed by recognized best practices in the field of early childhood education. Based on the results of a Quality Matters Program assessment, all regulated centres will be required to develop and implement quality improvement plans to qualify for ongoing funding from the Province.

The Province will continue its current investments, and is confident that through its partnership with the Government of Canada, we will see further improvements in quality, affordability, inclusion, and accessibility across the continuum of early learning and child care programs and services. This will provide children with the opportunity to thrive early in life, better positioning them for success as they move into the P-12 education system.

In the fall of 2017, the Province will be further engaging with families and child care providers regarding their need for regulated child care. This consultation will be used to directly inform strategic growth in regulated child care.

Action plan

Innovation

Innovation is the underpinning of Nova Scotia’s action plan, which focuses on building a strong continuum of quality programming for children aged 0-6 and their families. Leveraging the leading best practices in early childhood development, and taking the system as whole into consideration, overarching policies and programs are being adopted to ensure an affordable, accessible, integrated, high-quality system. Alignment and intention were key in the development of Nova Scotia’s action plan, ensuring that all actions undertaken will contribute to the system’s objectives and intended outcomes.

Examples of innovation include:

  • Investing in a continuum of supports for vulnerable families and communities with overarching policies and frameworks that will support inclusion across the system
  • Piloting new approaches, such as the Pyramid Model, and tracking for results
  • For the first time, low-income families will be able to access part-day subsidized spaces
  • Using a ‘Recognition of Prior Learning’ competency-based approach to Early Childhood Education credentialing, ensuring that peoples’ experiences and education are recognized when helping them to obtain their Early Childhood Education Credential
  • Growing child care in harder-to-reach and vulnerable communities through a strategic growth process that considers evidence of need such as demographic data, employment rates, results from standardized school assessments (i.e., the Early Development Instrument on children’s vulnerability), school enrolment trends, subsidy utilization rates, and the presence of existing early years programs and services.

Going forward, Nova Scotia will continue to adopt innovative approaches and programming that are appropriate to the age and developmental competencies of the child, provided by trained individuals, and consider the social, cultural, jurisdictional, and linguistic needs of Nova Scotians.

Early Learning and Child Care in Nova Scotia’s Acadian and Francophone Communities

Nova Scotia invests in, and greatly values its partnership with, Francophone child care providers across the province.

Currently, 15 regulated non-profit child care centres in Nova Scotia identify as French first-language. These centres provide approximately 700 spaces for children (birth to age 5) and employ over 65 trained early childhood educators as well as many other staff. In addition, Nova Scotia’s Francophone school board, Le Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP), provides preschool programming for approximately 417 four-year-old children through 16 school-based early learning programs. All of these programs receive funding through the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

For the past several years, government has also provided grant funding to the Centre provincial de ressources préscolaires (CPRPS) to support the Francophone early childhood education community. Accordingly, the Centre provincial de ressources préscolaires (CPRPS) has been instrumental in the development and delivery of resources and professional development opportunities to regulated French-first child care and early learning programs in Nova Scotia’s French language communities. This long-term grassroots involvement has given the Centre provincial de ressources préscolaires (CPRPS) a distinct and very real perspective on, and insight into, the specific social-emotional, cultural and linguistic needs of Acadian and Francophone children and their families, early years professionals, and the communities in which they live and work.

The funding provided through this agreement will enable the Province to build upon, and leverage, its partnership with the existing child care centres and training support sites, and enable growth and increased support within Francophone communities.

Several initiatives undertaken through this agreement will directly support Francophone families, children and educators:

  • Strategic growth of new centres and spaces will occur in under-served Francophone communities;
  • In partnership with the Centre provincial de ressources préscolaires (CPRPS) and Université Sainte-Anne, professional development opportunities for ECE’s and leadership training will be made available to Francophone educators, thus strengthening supports for children and families in Francophone communities;
  • Individuals from Francophone communities, where recruitment has been difficult, will have access to bursaries to obtain formal training in early childhood education, therefore increasing the number of French-speaking educators within the sector;
  • Of the 40 Pyramid Model pilot sites, intentional focus will be made to ensure participation from Francophone child care centres.
  • The Province will invest in an additional Francophone Developmental Interventionist via the provincial Early Childhood Development Intervention Services program, enabling more children from these communities to transition and integrate successfully into regulated child care, early learning programs, and school, therefore better positioning them for success in school, and in life.

Nova Scotia intends to invest in 3 key priority areas:

  • Making child care more accessible and affordable for Nova Scotian families
  • Supporting quality through workforce development
  • Imbedding inclusion in early learning and child care environments

Current planned investments, subject to change, are as follows:

Priority 2017-18 ($M) 2018-19 ($M) 2019-20 ($M)
Making child care more accessible and affordable for Nova Scotian families $2,762,500 $8,196,250 $7,546,250
Supporting quality through workforce development $615,000 $1,840,000 $440,000
Imbedding inclusion in early learning and child care environments $2,600,000 $4,890,000 $4,090,000
Administration, Tracking and Data $790,000 $1,242,158 $425,000

Total

$6,767,500 $16,168,408 $12,501,250

The Province currently invests approximately $60M in the Early Years sector through a combination of grants, subsidies, and programming. The investments made through this agreement will be incremental to the Province’s current investments.

Priority #1: Making child care more accessible and affordable for Nova Scotian families

Planned Investment: $18,505,000 over three years

(Multilateral Principles: Accessible, Affordable and Flexible)

Strategic Growth of the Regulated Child Care System: $5,355,000

Nova Scotia’s new Strategic Growth plan will increase accessibility to regulated child care across Nova Scotia. This investment will increase the number of child care spaces in underserved communities with a concerted focus on infant care which will better support harder to reach families. This will include services that meet the needs of Acadian/Francophone, African Nova Scotian, Indigenous and new comer families.

Through the child care review, Nova Scotia families identified difficulty finding quality, affordable child care, especially in rural communities, and for infants and children with special needs. Increased flexibility in the way care is provided is also needed to better suit family needs and support working families.

Nova Scotia has been working with community networks and partners to identify which communities need child care most, based on existing data and available resources. Nova Scotia will continue this work and in the fall of 2017, the Province will undertake a formal consultation with families and child care providers regarding local community need for regulated child care. This consultation will be used to directly inform strategic growth in regulated child care, and all new funding will be directed to the development of child care spaces in harder-to-reach communities, including Acadian/Francophone, African Nova Scotian, Indigenous and new comer communities.

In addition to consultation results, Nova Scotia’s plan for strategic growth will reflect current research and available data such as Early Development Instrument (EDI) results, school enrollment data, and subsidy utilization rates.

It is estimated that with federal investments in these areas, 15 new child care centres will open in communities with families in need; over 500 new childcare spaces will be created in these communities; 90 new family home day care sites will be registered; and 45 new infant family home day care sites will be created. Nova Scotia will report annually on the spaces created in hard-to-reach communities, including Acadian/Francophone, African Nova Scotian, Indigenous and new comer communities.

Enhancements to the Child Care Subsidy Program: $13,150,000

Federal investment will enable more families to access increased financial support to pay for child care. Currently, the turning point for the Child Care Subsidy Program is an annual income of $25,000 and this will be increased to $35,000.  This will benefit over 550 children who will be eligible to receive maximum subsidy rates. This change will save Nova Scotian families in the subsidy program approximately $4.88 per day or $1,269.00 annually, equating to over $700,000 dollars in total. The Assessed Daily Parent Fee sliding scale is the tool used to calculate the amount of subsidy an eligible family will receive. The Province will adjust the scale for all income levels up to the break-even point of $70,080 per year, enabling 675 children to receive a higher subsidy rate and saving thousands of dollars for Nova Scotia families.  As an example, families in the program with an average annual net income of $42,000 and one infant will pay approximately $20.00 per day for infant care compared to a current average rate of $24.00 per day. This equates to an average savings of approximately $1,000 per year for a family with one infant.

Currently, part-day programs are not eligible for subsidy. During consultation, the Province heard that low-income families needed access to part-time subsidized spaces to better accommodate their family’s needs. Therefore, Nova Scotia will invest in an expansion of the subsidy program to increase access to regulated child care for families who require flexible and part-time care.  As a result of this investment, approximately 375, or 20% of, part-day pre-school child care spaces, will be made available to low-and middle-income families.

Approximately 1,600 children will benefit from the combined changes to the subsidy program, saving Nova Scotians approximately $5M per year.,

Priority #2: Supporting quality through workforce development

Planned Investment: $2,895,000 over three years

(Multilateral Priority: High Quality)

High-quality early childhood education and child care programs have lasting positive impacts including greater school success and decreased need for special education services later. These results are magnified for vulnerable children (i.e., low-income or those with special needs). (The Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, 2012).

Research shows that well-educated, well-trained professionals are the primary factor in providing high-quality early childhood education and care (OECD, 2011). Child care staff who have completed a college diploma or university degree in early childhood education are more responsive to the needs of the children in their care. The training helps them to provide the children in their care with activities that are both stimulating and appropriate to their levels of development (Canadian Council on Learning, 2006).

In Nova Scotia, based on the 2015-2016 Annual Reports submitted by child care centres in receipt of provincial funding, approximately 27% of staff working directly with children are untrained or entry level (minimum of completion of 60 hours of orientation). In addition to this, 23% of staff working directly with children have completed Level 1 training, which is a combination of coursework and experience. This equates to 50% of staff, or 543, who work directly with children in regulated child care centres who have not completed a diploma or degree in early childhood education.

Nova Scotia has identified a long-term goal of implementing a new standard that all staff required for ratio will have a minimum of a 2-year diploma or degree in early childhood education. By 2021, it is anticipated that all staff required for ratio will have, or be engaged in training towards, a minimum of a two-year diploma in Early Childhood Education.

Recruitment and retention of qualified staff into regulated child care was cited as a key issue during the 2016 consultation. With the Province’s recent introduction of Pre-Primary, coupled with the strategic growth initiative, Nova Scotia could require as many as 700 new Early Childhood Educators over the next 3 years.

It will be imperative that the Province implements actions now to meet the identified current and future needs of the province’s labour market.

Introduction of a New Workplace Training Model: $1,045,000

At present, the Province offers a Continuing Education Program that enables regulated child care staff to access tuition support to cover costs associated with obtaining an early childhood education credential. The Province supports approximately 120 individuals to engage in coursework each year outside of normal working hours, at a cost of approximately $460,000 per year.

Through the child care review, the Province heard that many staff wanted to engage in formal training but were unable to attend outside of working hours due to family and personal commitments. Many staff also identified that they could not afford the lost wages associated with taking time off to participate in training during the day, and operators expressed an inability to absorb costs associated with paying current staff as well as substitute workers during the training period.

To address the training needs of child care staff, NS will partner with a recognized provincial learning institution to implement a Workplace Training model that will enable staff to engage in a diploma program while continuing to work. Employers will have access to funds to support substitute costs that will allow staff to be released from work to attend courses without losing their wages.

Through the Workplace Training Model, it is anticipated that approximately 200 additional staff will complete a diploma in early childhood education by 2021.

Recognition of Prior Learning Initiative: $200,000

To support the required growth in the number of qualified Early Childhood Educators, the Province will work with partners to introduce a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Initiative. This will allow individuals who have experience and education in early childhood development, but do not have the Early Childhood Education diploma, to be recognized as trained. The initiative will benefit at least 140 individuals in the system over 3 years, including those who hold a related international credential but have not been recognized in the past as trained Early Childhood Educators.

Leadership Development: $1,050,000

Strong pedagogical leadership and competent human resources management at the centre level is important for supporting, nurturing and developing the staff team and implementing the reflective practices known to improve quality and the success of the organization. (Friendly and Beach, 2005). Therefore, providing child care centre directors with opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills in leadership will contribute to the success of the child care centre.

Currently, leadership training is not a requirement within the sector. The Province will invest in training for Centre Directors within the regulated child care sector across Nova Scotia. It is expected that this intentional preparation for leadership will result in improved delivery of service including improved quality measure scores in facilities via the new Quality Matters Program.

Through this investment, it is expected that 250 Centre Directors (70% of all Centre Directors) will participate in training. It is expected that up to 12,250 children in the regulated child care system will benefit from this initiative over three years.

Professional Development: $600,000

During the child care review, child care staff and operators identified inconsistent access to high quality and effective professional development opportunities across the province; there is an over-abundance of professional development opportunities in some areas and a scarcity in others. This has resulted in lack of access for many of the regulated child care centres across the province.

Over 3 years, it is anticipated that family home care providers, early childhood educators, and centre directors within the regulated child care system will have equal access to standardized professional development opportunities that will ensure child care staff in all communities are able to grow their professional practice and learn from each other as well as from those who work in related fields. Professional development will be coordinated and strategic with a focus on new learning frameworks, quality improvement as per the Quality Matters Program, and inclusion.

Training opportunities will be both in-person and online, with a goal of maximizing investment and access. It is anticipated that 75% of staff within the sector will benefit from the training over 3 years.

Investment in the workforce supports the government’s goal to achieve excellence in child care by increasing the capacity of the workforce to deliver high quality programming and thereby enhance children’s learning and development. It also reinforces the Province’s commitment to Nova Scotians that we value children’s early learning environments by identifying the importance of highly-qualified early childhood educators as crucial to the provision of quality experiences and learning environments for children.

Priority #3: Imbedding inclusion in early learning and child care environments

Planned Investment: $11,580,000 over three years

(Multilateral Priority: Inclusion)

Inclusion in child care must begin at infanthood, by offering supports to transition families to regulated child care in settings where children and families feel welcomed, are supported, and can see themselves represented, along a continuum of care that extends to pre-primary to grade 12.

Currently, 1 in 4 children enter the school system with vulnerabilities in one or more development areas. Even with extra supports and remediation programs in school, it is often too late to change the learning trajectories established in early childhood (McCain et al. 2011). Therefore, it is essential that supports begin early.

Recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce: $1,000,000

As part of a strategy to imbed inclusion within the early childhood education system, it is key that children and families are able to see themselves in the child care centres they access.

During consultation, the Province received feedback regarding a lack of Early Childhood Education training opportunities targeted to Indigenous, African Nova Scotian, Acadian, Francophone, Immigrant, Newcomer and rural communities. Within the Francophone community, for example, child care centres have expressed great difficulty in recruiting French-speaking Early Childhood Educators.

For the first time, the Province will provide grants to early childhood education training institutions to develop bursary opportunities focusing on representatives from Indigenous, African Nova Scotian, Acadian, Francophone, Immigrant, and Newcomer communities. The Province will contribute $5,000 per year for up to 2 years per person toward tuition costs. The average tuition fee for one year of study is $6,000.

The Province expects that 100 individuals from Indigenous, Acadian/Francophone, African Nova Scotian, Immigrant, and Newcomer communities will benefit from the bursaries and complete a diploma in early childhood education. The Province will explore the use of a Return-to-Service Agreement with beneficiaries to ensure that trained Early Childhood Educators will remain and work in Nova Scotia.

Inclusion Incentive for Regulated Child Care Centres: $9,000,000

The Province will introduce a new Inclusion Incentive using both provincial and federal funding. This incentive will replace the current Supported Child Care Grant (SCCG), which is currently only accessible to approximately 60% of regulated child care centres. The new incentive will allow centres to support their commitment to build their capacity to provide inclusive programming for children with complex needs and from diverse backgrounds. Funding will support centre investments in the acquisition of resources, capital and infrastructure, and additional staffing to support developmental, social and physical inclusion for vulnerable, low-income children who require specialized supports. Funding will be tied to specific requirements for allocation and outcomes for success, based on a need demonstrated through the utilization of a newly-developed quality assessment tool (Quality Matters).

It is expected that an additional 40% of regulated eligible child care centres will have access to supports for regulated child care centres, ensuring that all centres are equipped to meet the unique and diverse needs of all children and families who access regulated care.

Nova Scotia will report annually on the impact of the incentive within the child care system using qualitative measures.

Enhancing Early Childhood Development Intervention Services: $540,000

Research shows that positive early experiences are essential prerequisites for later success in school, the workplace, and the community. Services to young children who have or are at risk for developmental delays have been shown to positively impact outcomes. (The National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Centre, 2011).

In 2015, the Province released an Early Intervention Program Review with accompanying recommendations. The review confirmed that early intervention services in Nova Scotia are a critical component at the front end of the early childhood development continuum in providing vulnerable families with the necessary supports to transition children into regulated child care, schools, and the community.

Following the review with accompanying recommendations for system improvements, 17 independent early intervention services organizations were amalgamated into one provincial non-profit organization, Nova Scotia Early Childhood Development Intervention Services (NSECDIS). This amalgamation has resulted in better access to consistent, quality services across the province.

A key recommendation stemming from the review was to improve access to services for Indigenous, Acadian and Francophone, African Nova Scotian, and Immigrant children. To move this recommendation forward, the Province intends to support the Nova Scotia Early Childhood Development Intervention Services organization in recruiting 3 developmental interventionists from Francophone, African Nova Scotian, and Indigenous communities. This investment will increase the number of children supported in these communities by up to 40%, from a current caseload of 265 to an anticipated 335-365, thereby helping more vulnerable children to transition to regulated child care, early learning programs and school entry.

Piloting a Pyramid Model for Promoting Social-Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children: $1,040,000

Early childhood educators have identified challenges in meeting the needs of a growing number of children with complex behaviors. In particular, they have identified the need for greater emphasis on supporting infant and toddler social and emotional learning; to address programming for children with diverse and complex needs; and to address inconsistencies in the strategies used to work with these children and their families. In some cases, centres report not being able to provide care for these children, resulting in a loss of child care for children and their families.

Nova Scotia will invest in piloting an innovative and strategic early childhood development framework, the Pyramid Model, which will support inclusion within the regulated child care system, at 40 sites across the province.

The Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children is a conceptual framework of evidence-based practices developed by two U.S.-based, federally-funded research and training centers: The Center for the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning and the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children. It is designed specifically for use in early learning and child care environments and is intended to create a shift in thinking about challenging behaviour, and to support staff in promoting children’s social-emotional competence and behavioral development.

The implementation of the Pyramid Model will require the development of a team of trainers who will train on the Pyramid Model and practices, as well as inclusion coaches (selected from the team of trainers) who will coach Early Childhood Educators and others on the Pyramid Model and practices. The teams will be recruited via the Province’s existing stakeholder networks.

It is anticipated that this investment will better position child care centres to offer inclusive programming, thereby facilitating increased access to child care for families requiring specialized supports. As a kay component of the Province’s overarching approach to quality and inclusion, the Pyramid Model will create a strong foundation for implementation of the new early learning curriculum framework and the Quality Matters Program.

Over three years, 8 community-based coaches will be recruited to work directly with early childhood educators in regulated child care and early learning programs. Across the province, these 8 coaches will be trained as Master trainers for the Pyramid Model. Approximately 40 child care centres will be identified as Pyramid Model demonstration sites and will work with Master trainers to fully implement the Pyramid model over 2 to 3 years. Approximately 500 staff working in the demonstration sites will become fully trained in the model and results from the demonstration sites will used to inform next steps regarding how to scale the model up to full province-wide implementation. It is estimated that up to 800 children will benefit from the Pyramid Model over the three years of the agreement.

In addition, the coaches will also have some availability to support other child care centres that are not in the demonstration through the provision of resources, consultation and professional development workshops. The goal will be to introduce the principles of the Pyramid model province-wide so that centres not in the pilot can begin to develop a shared understanding of the strategies and principles of the Pyramid Model, ensuring that all centres are building their capacity for inclusion. It is anticipated that, in addition to the 500 educators engaged in the pilot sites, another 500 educators from across the province will have opportunities to participate in workshops and benefit from the support provided by community-based Pyramid Model coaches.

If the pilot is successful, the Province will incorporate the use of the Pyramid Model into other quality measures and roll it out across Nova Scotia. Together with the other capacity-building measures, the Pyramid Model will help to ensure that the system is well-equipped to meet the unique and diverse needs of all children and families who access regulated care, positioning them for success as they move forward into the school system.

Summary of investments
Priority Action Investment Intended impacts
Making Childcare more affordable for Nova Scotian families Strategic growth of the regulated child care system: NS will focus growth in communities of need $5,355,000

The Province will better meet the needs of Acadian/Francophone, African Nova Scotian, Indigenous, newcomer, and rural children, by creating:

  • 15 new child care centres
  • 500 new child care spaces
  • 90 new family home day care sites; 50% targeted for infants
Enhancements to the child care subsidy program: NS will change the sliding scale to accommodate more children in the program $13,150,000

Federal investments will enable approximately 1,600 more children to access increased financial support, and save families over $5M annually:

  • 550 children will be eligible to receive maximum subsidy rates and save on average $4.88 per day in child care fees
  • 675 children will be eligible for higher subsidy rates
  • For the first time, part-day programs will be eligible for subsidy, impacting up to 375 children
Supporting quality through workforce development Introduction of a new workplace training model to enable staff within the regulated child care sector to achieve their diploma while continuing to work $1,045,000

Up to 200 people working within the regulated child care sector will be able to engage in a course work leading to a diploma during the day, with pay, because their employers will have access to funding support for substitute staff.

This will have a direct positive impact on quality of early childhood education within the regulated child care sector.
Introduction of a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) initiative to recognize the training and experience of qualified candidates seeking their ECE certification $200,000 At least 140 people without an ECE diploma or degree will achieve recognition for their training and experience within the field of early childhood education and access better wages. This will contribute to meeting future labour market needs within the child care sector.
Leadership development training $1,050,000 At least 250 regulated centre directors will engage in leadership development. This will have a direct impact on the quality of the child care environment for up to 12,250 children in the regulated child care system.
Professional development for staff working in regulated child care $600,000

At least 75% of staff within the regulated child care sector will benefit from access to standardized professional development opportunities that will focus on new learning frameworks, quality improvement, and inclusion.

Having well-trained professionals within the child care sector, as a primary factor in providing high-quality early childhood education and care, will have a direct an positive impact on the 17,000+ children that access regulated child care in Nova Scotia.

Imbedding inclusion in early learning and child care environments Recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce via access to bursaries $1,000,000

100 individuals from Acadian/Francophone, African Nova Scotian, Indigenous, Immigrant and Newcomer communities will complete a diploma in early childhood education because of access to bursaries.

This will contribute to a diverse workforce and ensure that the needs of all communities are met, particularly those with French-language needs, where recruitment has been particularly difficult due to language requirements.

Implementation of an Inclusion Incentive for regulated child care centres that provides funding for capital, additional staffing, and resources that support inclusion $9,000,000

This incentive will result in over 150 more regulated child care centres having access to capital and other supports that will build their capacity for inclusion, ensuring that centres are equipped to meet the unique and diverse needs of all children and families who access regulated care.

This will result in a direct positive impact on children with complex needs, ensuring they receive the necessary supports to transition them to school.

Enhancement of early childhood development intervention services, adding 3 developmental interventionists to extend their reach into more Francophone, African Nova Scotian and Indigenous communities in need $540,000

The number of Francophone, African Nova Scotian, and Indigenous communities supported will increase by up to 40%, from a current caseload of 265 to an anticipated 335-365.

This investment will enable more children from these communities to transition and integrate successfully into regulated child care, early learning programs, and school, therefore better positioning them for success in school, and in life.

Introduction of a Pyramid Model for promoting social-emotional competence in infants and young children through a pilot project with 40 sites across Nova Scotia $1,040,000

8 community-based coaches will be recruited to work with 40 pilot demonstration sites.  Approximately 500 individuals within the regulated child care sector will become fully-trained in the model.  Results will inform province-wide implementation.

This pilot project will build capacity of the regulated child care sector to:

  • Support infant and toddler social and emotional learning;
  • Address programming for children with diverse and complex needs;
  • Consistently apply strategies, developed via incorporating best practices, to work with children and their families.

Tracking for results

The current IT grant management and tracking system was developed on a platform that has not been updated in several years. The strategic direction of the Nova Scotia government, outlined via the priorities in this action plan, will require an updated and integrated system that will allow the Province to track and measure progress through the increased ability to collect and analyze data, and prepare reports. In addition, it will provide new opportunities to the Province for planning purposes, with access to integrated information across multiple program areas.

The Province will be utilizing administrative funding provided through this agreement to support this work.

These investments will ensure that Nova Scotia will meet the needs of NS children and their families, including those from Indigenous, Francophone, Newcomer, Immigrant, African Nova Scotian, rural, and low-income families. The following indicators and targets will be utilized to track and report on results.

Priority Action Indicator(s) Targets Annual report
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Making child care more accessible and affordable for Nova Scotian families Strategic Growth of the Regulated Child Care System

Number and percentage growth in regulated child care centres

Number of new spaces, including the proportion of spaces in the not-for-profit and commercial sectors

Number and percentage of spaces in rural and vulnerable communities, by community: Acadian/Francophone, African Nova Scotian, Indigenous and New Comer communities

Number and percentage of growth in new family home day care sites

Number and percentage of sites for infants

Number of new infant spaces in child care centres

15 new regulated child care centres in communities that demonstrate need; 4% increase

500 new spaces; 250, or 50%, to be in rural and/or vulnerable communities

35% increase in the number of family home day care sites, equating to 90 new family home day care sites; 50% to be targeted for infants

150 centre infant spaces

Yes Yes Yes
Enhancements to the Child Care Subsidy Program

Number of children and percentage change in those receiving the maximum subsidy

Number of children impacted by change to subsidy scale

Total amount of money saved by low-and middle-income Nova Scotian families due to change in turning point and change in subsidy scale

Number and percentage of part day subsidized spaces

An additional 550 children, will receive the maximum subsidy; this will raise the percentage of children receiving maximum subsidy from 66% to 80% of children

An additional 675 children will be impacted by the change to the subsidy scale

Of the existing 1,877 part-day spaces, 20% will be eligible for subsidy, equating to 375 part-day spaces that will be subsidized

Changes to subsidies will result in approximately $5 million dollars in combined savings for all Nova Scotian families in the subsidy program, and impact 1,600 children in the province.

Yes Yes Yes
Supporting quality through workforce development Implementation of a Workplace Training Model

Number and percentage of staff with Early Childhood Education (ECE) diploma and/or participating in professional development or training.

Number of educators with international credentials and/or other recognized training and experience that are recognized as trained in NS.

200 additional child care staff will complete an ECE diploma, raising the percentage of staff trained from 50% to 67% of the current staff required for ratio

140 child care staff will complete the Recognition of Prior Learning Process and become recognized as trained in NS

No Yes Yes
Leadership and Specialized Training for Directors Number and percentage of Directors participating in professional development or training 250, or 70%, of Directors will have post-diploma training in leadership/management No Yes Yes
Professional Development Opportunities for Early Childhood Educators Percentage of staff participating in professional development At least 75% of all child care staff required for ratio will engage in PD opportunities, including those related to the Quality Matters Program and the Early Learning Curriculum Framework Yes Yes Yes
Strengthening inclusion practices and services in early learning and child care environments Recruitment and retention of staff from diverse populations

Number of training grants provided to people from diverse populations

Number of individuals by community: Indigenous, Acadian/Francophone, Immigrant, and Newcomer communities.

100 individuals will benefit from bursaries to allow them to earn their Early Childhood Education diploma No Yes Yes
Inclusion incentive for regulated child care centres

Number and percentage of regulated providers accessing the inclusion incentive

Number and percentage of regulated providers creating play spaces, and/or using new tools and resources to enable them to adopt inclusive practices

100% of regulated centres who are eligible to access provincial funding will access the inclusion incentive, increasing this percentage from 60% who currently access funding for this purpose

100% of regulated providers who access the inclusion incentive will add play spaces, and/or use new tools and resources to enable them to adopt inclusive practices

Yes Yes Yes
Enhancing Early Childhood Development Intervention Services

Number of children with additional support needs participating in early learning and child care programs

Percentage growth in caseload of children from vulnerable communities supported

Up to 100 additional children will have support through Early Childhood Development Intervention Services

The percentage of children from vulnerable communities served will increase by up to 40%

No Yes Yes
Pyramid Model Pilot

Number of Pyramid Model Coaches recruited

Number and percentage of child care centres participating in PD specific to inclusive practices

Number of child care centres who have implemented Pyramid Model via pilot

Number of individuals fully trained to implement the Pyramid Model

8 Pyramid Model Coaches will be recruited

100% of provincially-funded child care centres will participate in PD specific to inclusive practices

40 child care centres will become demonstration sites and fully implement the Pyramid Model

500 individuals will be fully-trained to implement the Pyramid Model

No Yes Yes
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