The New Brunswick government has released its Early Learning and Child Care Action Plan with wage increases for workers, improvement grants for learning centres and a provincewide registry for parents to access.
The document entitled “Everyone at their best… from the start” is part of a $71-million joint federal-provincial investment to improve early learning and child care in New Brunswick.
Quality grants totaling $7.5 million will be doled out to facilities along with a one-time $4.7-million quality improvement grant which will go toward revamping indoor and outdoor learning environments, equipment and materials.
A previously announced investment of $28 million will go toward funding wage increases for trained early childhood educators, taking the hourly wage from $16 to $19 by 2022-2023.
Those child-care spaces that opt into the program will be designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres, with the government aiming to transition more than 300 under that banner by 2020.
“We believe that this approach brings lots of change but it is to the benefit of the operators, the educators and most importantly, the parents,” said Brian Gallant during the announcement at Garderie L’Envolee in Fredericton on Tuesday.
“This is a major change to the way that we’re approaching child care. We believe it’s going to ensure that there are more spaces, the right type of spaces for families, improve quality,” he said. “And probably the most important factor — it’s going to ensure that people can afford to send their children to child care.”
Perhaps the biggest change will see the creation of an all-encompassing child-care registry that will serve to assist parents searching for a facility that has space for their child.
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“Instead of having hundreds of daycare operators having their own registries,” Gallant began, “having the one registry, that’s going to be able to help families and the government know what’s needed out there and what’s available out there will be to everyone’s benefit including the daycare operator themselves.”
Gallant indicated the roll-out of services has already started in the Saint John and Edmundston region with more areas commencing soon.