A guide for parents in Canada

New Brunswick

Who’s responsible?

Who to contact

  • Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
  •   Website
  •   (506) 453-3678
  •   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Early Childhood Services Division of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is responsible for planning, designing, and monitoring all early childhood programs and services.

The Early Learning and Child Care team is responsible for licensing and monitoring early learning and child care facilities as well as monitoring services such as the Day Care Services Program, Early Learning and Care Curriculum, Day Care Assistance Program, and Alternative Child Care Program.

In September 2016, the provincial government released the Child Care Review Task Force Final report, Valuing Children, Families and Childcare, which serves as “a path for creating the right conditions for quality childcare that are accessible, affordable and inclusive, and that support parents’ participation in the workforce." From that report, the Early Learning and Child Care Action Plan, Everyone at their best...from the start, was developed. The action plan called for establishing designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres that commit to working with the government to provide more affordable, accessible, inclusive and high-quality early learning and child care services.

The Day Care Assistance Program is administered by the Department of Social Development and provides financial support for families to access early learning and child care, up to the age of 12.

New Brunswick has introduced a new Designated Centre – Parent Subsidy program for children registered in a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centres.

Kindergarten in the province is a full-school-day program for 5 year olds.

Finding child care

Facts and figures

  • There is a regulated space for 29.1% of children aged 0 – 12 yrs. (2016)
  • There is a regulated full or part-time centre-based space for 28.9% of children aged 0 – 5 yrs. (2016)
  • 62% of child care is owned by private, for-profit organizations, the remainder by non-profit organizations. There is no publicly-delivered child care. (2016)

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

There is a list of approved day care centres available online.

This list allows users to find licensed child care providers by region, and provides location and contact information. Parents are required to contact the program directly to register or place their child on the waiting list.

A Parent's guide to Quality Child Care in New Brunswick is available online as well.


Paying for child care

Parents are responsible for paying child care fees.

The 2017 Child Care Fee Survey, comparing the 28 largest cities in Canada, found the median full-time monthly fee in Saint John for an infant space is $868, $716 for a toddler space, and $694 for a preschool space. See the report for a more detailed look at child care costs nationally.

Toddler with newspapers for recycling


The Day Care Assistance Program can provide families, with an income of $55,000 or less, a partial subsidy based on needs and income test. Fee subsides are paid directly to service providers on behalf of eligible parents and can be used in non-profit, for-profit centres and community day care homes. Parents are responsible for paying an difference between the actual cost of your child care and the actual amount approved.

Find the Day Care Assistance Rate Table for Licensed Care here.

Starting in 2018/2019, New Brunswick will offer financial support for all preschool children in designated early learning and child care centres. Families earning $37,500 or less have access to free early learning and child care services at a designated centre and families earning between $37,501 and $80,000 will receive financial support based on a sliding scale, which considers child care fees, the number of children under the age of five not attending school and the total annual gross household income.

Families using child care services provided by non-designated centres or families accessing after-school child care through designated Early Learning and Child Care Centres will continue to access the Daycare Assistance Program.

Find the Designated Centre – Parent Subsidy Calculator here.

Typically, parents must be working, attending school or undergoing medical treatment to receive a subsidy. However, subsidies may also be prioritized for social assistance clients who are recently unemployed, completed training and actively seeking employment and families who have been referred for part-time care by a Social Worker.

Parents who do not have access to regulated child care (due to a rural location or irregular work hours for example), may be eligible for an alternative child care program which can provide a maximum daily subsidy of $18.50 for infants, $16.50 for children 2-5 years and $9.25 for after-school care.

Accessing subsidies

Regardless of whether you are applying to the Day Care Assistance program or Designated Centre – Parent Subsidy please contact your regional social development office to determine your eligibility.

Regulated child care

In New Brunswick, child care centres, nursery schools, school-age child care centres and approved community day care homes must operate in accordance with the regulations set out in the Early Childhood Services Act (Chapter E-0.5).

Day care regulations can address a wide range of standards - from window size to attendance taking to outdoor time. Several regulations related to program quality are highlighted below.

  • In day care centres, the director or his/her designate or one in four staff is required to have a one-year community college ECE certificate or equivalent.
  • There are no training requirements for community home day care providers or staff working in stand-alone school-age programs. Providers are required to have a Prior Contact/Criminal Record Check.
  • 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 child care centre may have a maximum of 60 spaces overall (unless established prior to 1983 and grand parented under new regulations).

Staff: child ratios and group size in centre-based care
Age of childStaff:child ratioMax group size
Under 2years 1:3 9
2-3 years 1:5 10
3-4 years 1:7 14
4-5 years 1:10 20
5-6 years 1:12 24
6-12 years 1:15 30

The maximum capacity for community day care homes is:

  • Infants: 3
  • 2-5 years: 5
  • 6+ years: 9
  • Combination of ages: 6

Regulated centres are required to provide meals that are in accordance with the Canada Food Guide to Healthy Eating.

Regulated centres must have outdoor play space averaging 4.5 m-squared per child and be able to accommodate 50% of centre-capacity at any time.

Centres and day care homes are required to “provide information on how staff members guide children’s behaviour, discipline approaches used by the facility”. They must forbid anyone to: “Humiliate, belittle or degrade in any way”, “strike, shake, shove, spank, pinch or other measures that produce physical pain”, “withdraw or threaten to withdraw food, rest or bathroom opportunities”.

Non-profit centers are required to be managed by a board of directors whose members include at least two parents of enrolled children.

The provincial regulations require basic health and safety precautions are met. Some examples include:

  • Fire safety and building standards maintained in accordance with standards prescribed by the Fire Prevention Act.
  • Rules and instructions regarding evacuation posted in a conspicuous place.
  • Easy access to first aid supplies stored in an area inaccessible to children.

The regulations do not address all aspects of quality. For example, the regulations do not include a curriculum framework for child care but there are both English and French curriculum frameworks, and centres are required to use the appropriate one. New Brunswick’s Curriculum Framework for Early Learning and Child Care and Le Curriculum éducatif pour la petite enfance francophone du Nouveau-Brunswick set out to provide the foundation for an appropriate and stimulating curriculum for children from birth to five.

New Brunswick’s Department of Social Development is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the curriculum in child care facilities and all child care workers working directly with children under the age of five are required to attend formal curriculum training. They will receive this training through a recognized training institute or through one of the two partnering universities – Université de Moncton or the University of New Brunswick.

Unregulated child care

Community day care homes in New Brunswick are "approved" rather than licensed. However, many day care homes are not approved. A family day care home is not required to be approved if it has five or fewer children under the age of 12 (including the caregiver’s own children under the age of 12).

If all children are between the ages of two and five the maximum number of children is four. If all the children are school age, the maximum number is eight.

It is not legal to operate a nursery school or child care centre without a license.

Children with disabilities

In New Brunswick, children with identified special needs may be referred for Integrated Day Care Services through the Early Childhood Initiatives (ECI) Program. To be identified as special needs, the child must fall into one of three categories: a confirmed diagnosis at birth, developmental issues after birth, or family risk factors.

Facilities providing Integrated Day Care Services to children referred under ECI may receive an average of $3,400/year/child for children aged 2-5 years. The funding may also be used for transportation, materials, equipment and/or additional nutritional needs of the child. Child care providers are responsible for accessing supports through the program on behalf of the child.

New Brunswick has also put in place community based services for children with special needs (CBSCSN) to work with parents/legal guardians in providing the extra-ordinary care and support required to meet the special developmental needs of their severely disabled child. Access more information and check your eligibility online.

There are also services for preschool children with autism spectrum disorder.

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.