Nova Scotians are one step closer to having a more affordable and accessible child care system with the release of the consultation findings and recommendations from the review of the regulated child care sector.
Karen Casey, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, released the report today, March 31, which outlines the challenges for the system and recommendations to improve it. The minister has accepted all recommendations.
“For too long early learning has been misunderstood, ignored and underfunded, despite that the early years are the most important years in a child’s development,” said Ms. Casey. “This review is the first in-depth look at Nova Scotia’s child care sector and it is clear that it is time for a change.”
The review examined the strengths and areas of concern in the sector and makes 18 recommendations in the areas of accessibility of child care for families, affordability of child care programs, quality of programming, support and development of the workforce, and structure and governance of the system.
Highlights of recommendations include:
–- increasing child care options available to families with particular emphasis on how needs vary in urban and rural communities
–- improving access to infant care and to children with special needs
–- updating the subsidy program and making it easier for families to apply
–- improving support for low and middle income families to make it easier for them to access child care
–- setting standards, guidelines, and curriculum that will focus on best practices and on supporting child development outcomes
— improving wages for early childhood educators
–- developing collaborative approaches to solving recruitment and retention issues, in partnership with child care organizations
–- improving funding accountability and reporting requirements to ensure grants are being used as intended
Following the provincial budget, Ms. Casey will release a response to the recommendations.
Ms. Casey shared the findings of the report with Jean-Yves Duclos, federal minister of Families, Children and Social Development, who indicated he looks forward to working with Ms. Casey and her provincial and territorial colleagues across the country on this file.
Supporting children from cradle to career is one of the action items from the ONE Nova Scotia 10 Year Collaborative Action Plan, which emphasizes that children must be supported from the time they are born until they successfully enter the workforce and that early childhood education and development have exceptionally high returns to society as a whole.
More than 7,000 Nova Scotians responded to child care review consultations through the online survey, in addition to focus groups, one-on-one interviews and written submissions.
“I want to thank everyone who responded, the early childhood educators, and the child care service providers for their patience during this extensive process,” said Ms. Casey. “I am excited to move forward and make positive, sustainable changes to the regulated child care system.”
The review of regulated child care follows a review of early intervention programs and a review of the P-12 public education system.
The regulated child care system in Nova Scotia includes 391 child care centres and 207 approved family home and daycare centres.
The review findings and recommendations can be found at novascotia.ca/education.