Developed after extensive consultation with parents, early childhood development experts, the child-care sector, kindergarten teachers, and school district personnel, the strategy contains seven commitments and 39 action items to ensure integrated and responsive preschool services for children and parents.
New community-based resources, enhanced subsidies for parents, and the piloting of four new early childhood development centres are among the new initiatives being launched to ensure that New Brunswick preschool children succeed.
In the first year, several new investments will be made as part of Early Childhood Strategy Action Plan, 2008-2009, including:
• an increase in child-care subsidies for low-income parents;
• increased funding to support the recruitment and retention of specialized personnel who provide services to preschool children with autism spectrum disorders;
• increased funding for integrated daycare and early intervention services for at-risk preschool children;
• enhanced day-care support for families leaving social assistance for paid employment, or making the transition to work;
• hiring eight new community-based early learning specialists to provide guidance and support to regulated child-care facilities, preschool programs, family resource centres and parents with young children;
• new funding for family resource centres working with at-risk children and families to expand outreach services and increase parenting programs and services;
• increased funding to support special-needs children who require a support worker while attending a child-care facility;
• an increase in wages for regulated child-care staff to build on previous wage enhancements;
• implementation of an early childhood development community mapping model to provide government and communities with information to identify needs, to service gaps, and to assess the effectiveness of programs and services; and
• build on the existing public awareness campaign on the benefits of quality child-care and early learning experiences for preschool children.
In addition, a $13.7-million Early Learning and Child Care Trust Fund has been established to provide training for child-care workers, develop and implement a new early learning and child-care curriculum, and provide financial incentives for the creation of new child-care spaces in the province.
A new early learning and child-care curriculum will also be implemented in all regulated child-care facilities in New Brunswick by September 2009. The French and English experience-based curriculum was developed by the University of New Brunswick and the Université de Moncton.