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

As of 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. You can find the Action Plan 2018-2019 Annual Report here.

The Day Care Assistance Program is administered by the Department of Education and Early Childhood 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 32.3% of children aged 0 – 12 yrs. (2019)
  • There is a regulated full or part-time centre-based space for 35% of children aged 0 – 5 yrs. (2019)
  • 65% of child care is owned by private, for-profit organizations, the remainder by non-profit organizations. There is no publicly-delivered child care. (2019)

Families are responsible for finding and obtaining a child care space for their child(ren); there is no universal entitlement to a child care space for children in New Brunswick.

There is a child care facility search tool that helps parents find licensed child care centres in New Brunswick. This search tool 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

Families are responsible for paying child care fees. 

The 2019 Child Care Fee Survey, comparing the 37 largest cities in Canada, found the median full-time monthly fee in Saint John for an infant space is $868, $738 for a toddler space, and $664 for a preschool space. The survey also included median fees for Moncton and Fredericton.

See In Progress: Child care fees in Canada 2019 for a breakdown of child care fees in 37 cities across Canada.

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 subsidies 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 the difference between the actual cost of their child care fees and the actual amount approved for subsidy.

A Day Care Assistance Rate Table for Licensed Care and a Daycare Assistance Program Calculator are available for families.

As of 2019, New Brunswick offers financial support under the Parent Subsidy Program for all children 5 years and under 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. 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.

A Designated Centre – Parent Subsidy Calculator is available for families.

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.
  • Staff must be at least 16 years of age and they should be supervised by one primary staff who is 19 years of age or older.
  • Staff must have first aid training, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation certificate, and criminal record check/vulnerable sector check.
  • Staff who do not hold at least a one year Early Childhood Certificate must successfully complete the Introduction to Early Childhood Education course (30 hours of curriculum training, 60 hours of introduction to early childhood).
  • A child care home provider must hold a one-year ECE certificate or complete the Introduction to Early Childhood Education course (30 hours of curriculum training and 60 hours of introduction to early childhood). Child care home providers must have first aid and CPR training, and a Prior Record Check and Criminal Record Check/Vulnerable Sector Check.
  • There are no qualification requirements for staff working in stand alone school-age programs.
  • 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 2 years 1:3 6
2-3 years 1:5 10
3-4 years 1:8 16
4 years and older (not in school) 1:10 20
School age 1:15 30

The maximum capacity, including the provider’s own child(ren) under 12 years old, for regulated early learning and childcare 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.

Although centres are required to provide meals for the children, parents may bring food from home that is labelled with the child’s name. 

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 20% of 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.

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. The use of these curriculum frameworks are only mandatory for New Brunswick Early Learning Centres.

New Brunswick’s Department of Early Learning and Childcare Services 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.

The regulations do not address all aspects of quality. For example, although there are both English and French curriculum frameworks for early learning, the implementation of these frameworks is not addressed in current regulations.  A policy for the implementation of the New Brunswick early childhood curriculum framework is being developed.

Unregulated child care

Early learning and child care homes in New Brunswick are individually licensed. However, child care homes are not required to be licensed if serving up to five children of mixed ages (0 - 12 years old), including the provider’s own child(ren). Of those five children, one must be school-aged and no more than one can be infant. 

The maximum number of children is two if all children are 0 - 24 months old, four if all children are 2 - 5 years old, and eight if all children are school-aged (5 years old or older).

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 eligible for the Enhanced Support Worker Program (ESWP). The ESWP provides funding to licensed child care providers to have an additional support worker to support children with disabilities and/or additional needs. 

Eligibility for the ESWP requires parents to be working or in school/training, the child is enrolled in a licensed child care centre, the child demonstrates a high need for support services. To apply for the ESWP an application form must be filled and submitted. You can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the toll free number at 1 833 453-6645 for any further enquiries.

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.