N.L. announces expanded measures to help child care providers

Education Minister Krista Lynn Howell announced measures to support the creation of more child-care spaces on Wednesday. (Mark Quinn/CBC)The Newfoundland and Labrador government has announced more funding for child-care providers offering spaces for infants, as well as other short-term implementations to support the sector.Education Minister Krista Lynn Howell said the province will fund an additional $30 a day per space for infant care spaces offered by providers participating in the province’s operating grant program, which funds regulated child-care centres and some day homes in Newfoundland and Labrador.The need for more infant spaces was one of four main items that came out of a review of the operating grant. Howell said it’s one of the areas of highest demand. The increase means the province is now funding $101 per infant per day.Two other items Howell said could be addressed in the short term are the continuation of two paid leave days for professional development for child-care providers and expanding the number of statutory holidays a provider can receive funding for to 12.Five additional closure days are also being funded, which providers can use at their own discretion.Howell also announced changes to the funding structure of the operating grant program, saying it will put providers on a more level playing field.Howell said the demand for infant child care is high in the province. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)”Sometimes a centre had an additional inclusion worker or inclusion space and they were able to offer that service, so they were often ranked on a higher tier,” Howell said Wednesday.”But It’s our expectation now that all of our centres will be providing this inclusion space. So everybody will be ranked on the higher tier and receive the funding based on that model.”There are currently 2,206 early childhood learning and child-care spaces in development with various timelines to opening, according to a news release. Over 1,500 $10-a-day spaces have been created since January 2023.Pensions and benefits for ECE part of discussions: HowellWednesday’s announcement comes three weeks after a report from the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour which said that 42 per cent of the province’s early childhood educators are considering finding a new job because of low wages and a lack of benefits.The report also said educators didn’t feel like they were being heard by government, and voiced a desire to have ECE’s become part of the province’s public-sector pension plan.Howell said conversations about pensions and benefits are ongoing.”That’s part of our conversation as we build a workforce and recognize the value that they bring. I think we’ve moved the dial, but there’s still much work to be done,” Howell said.For example, some child-care providers are for-profit, and some aren’t. Some are government-operated, while others are private.”It gets a bit technical, so we wanted to make sure that we actually know what we’re going forward with. And when we apply it to one, it will apply to everybody.”Download our free CBC News app to sign up for push alerts for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. Click here to visit our landing page.

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