A guide for parents in Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador

Who’s responsible?

Who to contact

  • Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
  •   Website
  •   (709) 729-5097
    FAX (709) 729-1400
  •   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the overall responsibility for child care has recently moved from the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. This department is also responsible for early childhood learning and development, the K-12 school system, and public libraries. Their objective is to build an educational community in Newfoundland and Labrador that fosters safe, caring, and inclusive learning environments for all children and youth in early childhood settings, regulated child care and family resources centres, as well as pre-school to Grade 12.

The Division of Family and Child Development within the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is responsible for legislation regarding child care as well as for monitoring and licensing child care centres, family home child care and Family Resource Centres.

The Child Care Services Subsidy Program is available for eligible families to help cover full and partial fees for child care. The subsidy program is administered through regional offices of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Finding child care

Facts and figures

  • There is a regulated space for 11.2% of children aged 0-12 yrs (2012)
  • There is a centre-based space for 18.9% of children aged 0-5 yrs (2012)
  • 65% of Newfoundland and Labrador child care is owned by for-profit organizations; most of the remainder are non-profits, while there are also a few  publicly-operated programs.

Parents are responsible for finding and obtaining a child care space for their child(ren); there is no entitlement.

A map of early childhood programs and services is available online. This map provides the location and contact information for child care centres, family child care agencies, and family resource centres. Parents must contact centres directly to register their child or to put their child on a waiting list.

A family child care agency registry is another resource that can be found through Family and Child Care Connections (a community organization) for families in St. Johns and the surrounding area that lists approved (regulated) family child care providers and their contact information in order to help connect parents to providers that best meet their child care needs.

In some parts of NL, regulated family child care providers are individually licensed in which case it may be  a matter of finding them on your own.

Newfoundland and Labrador also has a network of family resource centres in most parts of the province. Programs in these centres may include drop-in playgroups, parenting workshops, and pre-natal support programs. These centres may also be a source of information for families about child care and other children’s issues.

Paying for child care

Parents are responsible for paying child care fees. According to the most recent national data, the average full-time monthly fees range from approximately $773 for toddler care to $783 for preschool.

Data from 2015 for Canada’s largest cities indicates that St. Johns has the second highest infant fess in Canada which cost families $1,400 per month.

There is no information for median fees in family child care.

Subsidies

The Child Care Services Subsidy Program, which is administered by regional child care service offices (see Who is Responsible above), may provide families with a partial or full subsidy based on a province-wide income test. Families already receiving income support are exempt from this and will receive full subsidy. Typically, parents must be working or attending school to receive a subsidy. However, a child may also be referred for developmental reasons.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, subsidies can be used in either non-profit or for-profit regulated centres, licensed family child care, or family child care homes approved by a licensed family child care agency.

Fee subsidies are paid directly to service providers on behalf of eligible parents. There is no minimum user fee but programs may surcharge subsidized parents above the maximum subsidy rates.

Funding for unregulated care may also be available for families on income support who need and are unable to find regulated child care. They may receive $325 for the first child, and $125 for each additional child. The money goes directly to the parent and is the same amount regardless of the age of the child.

For more information on subsidies you can access the Child Care Services Subsidy Manual.

Toddler with hat and horn

Fee subsidies are paid directly to service providers on behalf of eligible parents. There is no minimum user fee but programs may surcharge subsidized parents above the maximum subsidy rates.

Typically, parents must be working or attending school to receive a subsidy. However, a child may also be referred for developmental reasons.

Funding for unregulated care may also be available for families on income support who need and are unable to find regulated child care. They may receive $325 for the first child, and $125 for each additional child. The money goes directly to the parent and is the same amount regardless of the age of the child.

Accessing subsidies

Contact the early childhood learning division for more information on applications for the above programs. They are not available online. 

Note: You must find a child care centre or regulated family home child care for your child before a subsidy can be applied. You will need to let your regional child care services office know when your child will be starting and the program’s daily fees.

Regulated child care

In Newfoundland and Labrador, child care centres must operate in accordance with the regulations set out in the Child Care Services Regulations, 2005, under the Child Care Services Act.

Some family child care is subject to regulations as well and is either directly monitored by the licensing officials from the ministry or by a licensed agency that monitors multiple family child care homes, both through regular home visits. 

However, most family child care is not regulated.

Regulations address a wide range of standards - from space requirements to attendance taking to outdoor time. A few regulations related to program quality are highlighted below. Child care services and family child care agencies are inspected by an inspector at least once a year.

  • In child care centres, one staff person with each group of children is required to have a one-year post secondary certificate in early childhood education for the age group in which the staff is assigned
  • All other staff who are included in the centre’s staff/child ratio must have Entry Level certification (30 – 60 hour course), with the exception of infant programs, where the minimum qualification is a one-year certificate in infant care.
  • Regulated family child care providers are required to have a 30-60 hour entry level certification course and 30 hours of professional development every three years to keep certification valid.
  • Centre supervisors must have a two-year diploma in early childhood education in the age groups for which the centre is licensed and two or more years experience working with children in those age groups.
  • Staff:child ratios address the number of staff required per number of children.
  • Group size is the number of children, usually of one age group, that stay together throughout the day in a defined group – often a room.
  • Family child care homes have a specified number of children by age.

Child care centres

Each centre may have a maximum of 60 spaces overall.

Staff:child ratios and group size in centres
Age of childStaff:child ratioMax group size
0-24 months 1:3 6
25-36 mos (2.1 yrs – 3 yrs) 1:5 10
37-69 months (3.1 yrs – 5.9 yrs) 1:8 16
57-84 (4.9 yrs - 7 yrs)
and attending school
1:12 24
85-144 months (7.1 yrs – 12 yrs) 1:5 30

Family child care

  • Each home may have a maximum of six children including the provider’s own children not attending school full-time. There may only be three children under three years, and only two under two years old.
  • Under exceptional circumstances (and with directors’ approval), a family child care provider may add two school-age children if she has two children of her own who are younger than school-age.
  • With director’s approval, a seventh child may be added for a maximum of 1.5 hours per day, or for a maximum of 12 continuous hours once a week. Providers may care for three children under two years if there are no other children being cared for at the same time.

Providers in all types of regulated child care in Newfoundland and Labrador are required to provide meals that are in accordance with the Canada Food Guide to Healthy Eating.

  • Centres operating for more than four hours a session must have access to an outdoor play area on-site, surfaced, enclosed, of a size and equipped in the manner “determined by the minister”.
  • Centres operating for four or fewer hours a session must have access to an outdoor play area which, if it is on-site, shall conform to the above requirements.

The regulations require some basic health and safety precautions to be met. For example, providers are required to:

  • Have accessible emergency contact information
  • Have and practice an evacuation plan
  • Report “unusual occurrences” (i.e., accident or injury) to the ministry consultant
  • Enforce hygienic diapering procedures and ensure the safe storage and administration of prescription medication

The regulations do not address all aspects of quality. For example, there are no regulations or standards addressing curriculum or pedagogy in child care, behaviour management policies and practices, or parent involvement.

Newfoundland and Labrador has developed a number of manuals to guide quality in centre-based child care. The guidelines included in the following manuals are suggested but not regulated:


Unregulated child care

A family child care home is not required to be regulated if it has four or fewer children less than 13 years old (including the caregiver’s own children under 13). If all the children are under 24 months, the legal maximum is three children.

It is not legal to operate a part-day nursery school or child care centre without a license. However, unregulated group programs are allowed if they do not receive more than six children for not more than nine hours a week, or for an unspecified number of children for not more than six hours a day for fewer than eight weeks in a 12-week period.

Children with disabilities

The child care fee subsidy program enables families to become eligible for a subsidy if their child has been diagnosed with a developmental disability (regardless of parents’ employment status).

Otherwise, parents of a child with a disability pay regular fees.

Supports are available to service providers to facilitate inclusion (for example, hire another staff or purchase special equipment). The level of support depends on the specific needs of the child.

Each regional office has a Child Care Services Inclusion Consultant available to advise and support licensees and providers on how to include children with special needs.

A manual on inclusion, Child Care Services Inclusion of Children with Special Needs Policy Manual is available online.

See Do you have a child with a disability or special need? for more information on provincial/territorial supports for children with disabilities in child care.