Funding for Early Learning and Child Care Innovation

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Application period

Current status: Closed

Applicants should not start their proposed projects until:

  • they receive approval of their project from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)
  • an agreement has been signed between the organization and a representative of ESDC

Please note that not all applications submitted under this process will be approved. Funding is limited. It is subject to budget considerations of ESDC and allocation of funds by Parliament.

Decisions are final and there is no appeal process.

Learn more about other funding opportunities

You can apply between October 29, 2020 and January 7, 2021 at 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Note that we will review your application and decide if you will receive funding.

We expect to make funding decisions in Summer 2021.

Description of the funding

Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Innovation is to support organizations exploring new ideas to maximize innovative practices in ELCC services across Canada.

There is more information available on the Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Innovation program page.


We will fund ELCC program and service delivery projects that:


This section describes how we will assess your application to determine its eligibility. Your application must meet the eligibility criteria to be considered.

Eligible applicants

To receive funding, your organization must be one of the following types:

Ineligible applicants include:

Eligible organizations may only submit 1 application, but may consist of more than 1 project. Submit a separate application for each department if you are submitting more than 1 project for the same organization. This includes ELCC agencies, educational institutions, and health and social services institutions.

Note: Organizations in the province of Québec cannot apply for this funding. The Government of Canada is in discussion with the Government of Québec to ensure Innovation funding is available for Québec-based projects. Additional information will be provided at a later time.

Eligible projects

To be eligible for funding, your project must meet all of the following criteria:

How we assess your application

If we determine that your application to be eligible, we will assess it using the following criteria.

Project objectives

Your project must be innovative and addresses a gap or need within the ELCC sector. Your application must clearly describe how your project will:


We will recommend for funding first, project proposals that:


We can further consider projects that:

Project activities, timelines and feasibility

Your application must:

Project results and effects

Your application must describe your project’s outputs, outcomes and indicators.

Project budget

Your application must provide a brief and clear justification of how you intend to expend the funds effectively and efficiently. Your project costs must be reasonable, detailed, and support the project activities.

Steps to apply

Create a Grants and Contributions Online Services (GCOS) account to apply online (if applicable)

To apply online, you need a Grants and Contributions Online Services (GCOS) account. If you do not have one, you will need to create a GCOS account. It may take a minimum of 2 weeks to create your GCOS account. We strongly encourage you to create your GCOS account as soon as possible.

GCOS allows you to:

Follow this link to create a Grants and Contributions Online Services account.

Gather your supporting documents and information

Before submitting your Application for funding, make sure that you have included all of the required documents in your application package. Not doing so could result in rejecting your application from this process.

Apply, submit and track the status of your application online using GCOS

  1. Read the Applicant guide: Funding for Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Innovation to complete your application form. This guide includes details on each question in the form
  2. Complete the Budget detail template (EMP5570)
  3. Apply online using GCOS

Apply by email

  1. Read the Applicant guide: Funding for Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Innovation to complete your application form. This guide includes details on each question in the form
  2. Complete the Application for funding (EMP5523) and the Budget detail template (EMP5570) on your computer or by hand
  3. Print and sign only the appropriate section(s) of the Application for funding
  4. Scan the completed/signed Application for funding pages and the completed Budget detail template pages, then email them to If you are unable to scan them, mail them to us.

Apply by mail

  1. Read the Applicant guide: Funding for Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Innovation to complete your application form. This guide includes details on each question in the form
  2. Complete the Application for funding (EMP5523) and the Budget detail template (EMP5570)
  3. Print, sign and mail the documents to:

Mailing address
Early Learning Child Care (ELCC) Innovation submissions
Coordination Unit Mailstop 402
National Grants & Contributions Delivery Centre (ESDC)
140 Promenade du Portage Phase IV 4th floor
Gatineau QC  K1A 0J9

After you’ve applied

Contact us

If you have questions about this application process, send an email to We will answer any questions sent before January 6, 2021 12:00 pm (EST).

Information sessions

We will hold information sessions. You can participate online or by teleconference. If you are interested, send an email to In your email, specify your preferred language (English or French) and if you need accommodations. We will provide you with the instructions on how and when to attend.


Accessible, affordable and flexible

High-quality early learning and child care that:

Action research

Refers to a process where the "actors" (such as educators and teachers) examine their educational practice by using research techniques. The research is typically a collaborative effort by a team that may work on a local, regional or national scale.

Child care programs

Regulated programs and services that meet standards established or monitored by provincial and territorial governments.

Children with diverse (or varying) abilities

Includes children with any physical, social, emotional, behavioral, or learning abilities that require additional or specialized services or accommodations.

Development of models and tools

Includes service delivery models, program design, and tools to enhance ELCC services.


Embraces differences in culture, racial and ethnic groups, gender, disabilities, age, social, and economic backgrounds.

Early learning

Includes activities designed to support child development and learning for children under 6 years of age. These activities aim to support language, emotional, intellectual and physical development. They can take place in a:

ELCC programming

Includes high-quality ELCC programming empowering young children with a strong sense of identity. It provides educational opportunities and school readiness and contributes to their overall health and wellness from early years into adulthood.

ELCC programs and services

Support direct care and early learning for children in settings including, but not limited to:

High-quality early learning and child care

Provides rich early learning experiences and environments. Views children as capable, competent learners who are full of potential. Recognizes the importance of qualifications and training for the early childhood work force.

Inclusive early learning and child care systems

Respect and value diversity, including but not limited to:

Indigenous communities

Indigenous peoples is a collective name for the original peoples of North America and their descendants. Often, ‘Aboriginal peoples' is also used. The Canadian Constitution recognizes 3 groups of Aboriginal peoples: First Nations, Inuit and Métis. These are 3 distinct peoples with unique histories, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.

Innovative approaches


Non-standard work

An employment arrangement that is different from standard work hours. This includes:

Official language minority communities (OLMCs)

Groups of people whose maternal or chosen official language is not the majority language in their province or territory:

Quality of early learning and child care services

Promotes optimal child outcomes in all aspects of their development. Provides valuable educational and social experiences.

Standard work

Permanent, full-time work, Monday to Friday, in a consistent 8-hour daytime shift. Between the hours of 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Vulnerable children and families

People who are usually physically, mentally, geographically, economically and socially disadvantaged.

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