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
  •   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is responsible for child care, early childhood learning and development, the kindergarten to grade 12 school system, and public libraries.

The Division of Early Learning and Child Development within the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is responsible for monitoring and licensing child care centres and family child care homes under the Child Care Act and regulations. The Division of Early Learning and Child Development is also responsible for Family Resource Centres.

The Child Care Services Subsidy Program is available to eligible families to help cover the full or partial cost of 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 13.1% of children aged 0-12 years. (2019)
  • There is a centre-based space for 25% of children aged 0-5 years. (2019)
  • 72% 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. (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 Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Early Learning and Child Care Directory is a searchable database that provides the location and contact information of all regulated child care services, both centre-based and family child care, and family resource centres in Newfoundland and Labrador. Parents must contact centres directly to register their child or to put their child on a waiting list.

 All regulated family child care providers in the St. John's/Metro area, and many of the providers in Corner Brook and surrounding areas, are approved under the licensed family child care agency - Family and Child Care Connections. The Family Child Care Agency Registry provided by Family and Child Care Connections is another resource to help families find regulated family child care providers in St. Johns and surrounding areas. Other family child care homes are individually licensed by the province (instead of through the licensing agency) and may not be included in the registry. Parents must find these family child care providers in their community.

Newfoundland and Labrador also has Family Resource Centres in parts of the province. Family Resource Centres can also be located through the Early Learning and Child Care Directory. 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

Families are responsible for paying child care fees. A 2019 child care fee survey found the full-time, median monthly infant fee in St. John’s is $955 and $660 for preschoolers (including both child care centre and regulated home child care data). The report also includes a breakdown of child care costs in 37 other major Canadian cities.

As part of Newfoundland and Labrador's 10-year child care strategy to address the affordability of child care services for families, the province is offering the Operational Grant Program to licensed programs that lower their rates to $25 a day per child. 

Child care fees at participating licensed child care centres will be reduced to current daily subsidy rates of $35/day for infants, $17.50/day for toddlers, $14/day for preschoolers and school-agers in full day care, and $4/day for school-age children attending after school programs.


Eligible families may receive financial assistance through the Child Care Services Subsidy Program, administered by regional child care service offices.

Child care subsidy may cover the partial or full cost of child care, depending on family income. However, some child care providers may charge higher fees than the maximum subsidy rates and parents are responsible for paying the difference. Fee subsidies are paid directly to service providers on behalf of eligible parents and can be used in either non-profit or for-profit regulated centres or licensed family child care homes.

Families on income support, who have previously completed needs testing, are already considered eligible and do not require further testing.

Typically, parents must be working or attending school to receive a subsidy. However, a child who is referred to child care for developmental reasons may be considered eligible for subsidy whether or not the parent is in the paid labour force or training.

Toddler with hat and horn

Accessing subsidies

Subsidy applications are available online. Contact the child care services office in your region for more information on subsidy applications.

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.

Regulated family child care is also subject to the provincial regulations, which determines the number and ages of children allowed in the provider's care. Family child care is monitored by either the licensing officials at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development or by a licensed agency through regular home visits.

However, most family child care is not regulated.

Regulations address a wide range of standards, including space requirements, attendance taking, and 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

Staff:child ratios and group size in centres
Age of childStaff:child ratioMax group size
0-24 months 1:3 6

18-36 mos (1.5 yrs - 3 yrs)

1:5 10
33-69 months (2.9 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) 1:15 30

Family child care

  • Each home may have a maximum of three infants (2 years old or younger), or seven mixed-age children depending on the ages and numbers of the children. There may be up to two infants and three toddlers (1 years 6 months up to 3 years old) in mixed-age groups. The provider’s own child(ren) in the infant, toddler and preschool age range (up to 5 years 9 months old) must count toward the number of children.
  • Under exceptional circumstances (and with directors’ approval), a family child care provider may add up to two of his/her own children in the younger or older school-age range (4 years 9 months up to 13 years old).
  • 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.

Behaviour guidance policies should be established by the child care service administrator. The policies should recognize developmental ability and set appropriate expectations of children, acknowledge diversity, promote realistic play and behaviour limits. 

The policies prohibit corporal punishment, harsh or humilitating verbal and phsycial treatment, confinement/isolation/restraint of a child, and deprive children of basic needs.

There are no specific regulations for parent involvement. Parents should have access to policies and procedures of the child care service.

  • 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

Newfoundland and Labrador uses the curriculum framework Navigating the Early Years: An Early Childhood Learning Framework. Although use of the curriculum framework in child care centres is not mandatory, it is anticipated that the next Legislation review in 2022 will introduce the framework as the base for the program submitted as part of the license application process.

The regulations do not address all aspects of quality. For example, there are no regulations or standards addressing curriculum or pedagogy in child care, 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 child care service is not required to be licensed if any of the following apply:

  • Operating for less than 10 hours/week;
  • Serving up to three children all in the infant age range (2 years old or younger), or up to four children of which two may be infants. The provider’s child(ren) 13 years old or younger must count towards the number of children.

Children with disabilities

Families in Newfoundland and Labrador are eligible for the child care subsidy if their child has a disability and child care is recommended by a recognized health care professional (regardless of parents’ employment status).

The Inclusion Program is available to regulated service providers to help facilitate an inclusion (for example, hire another staff or purchase special equipment). The level of support depends on the specific needs of the child.

Each of the province’s four regional office has a Child Care Services Inclusion Consultant available to advise and support licensees and providers on how to include children with disabilities.

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.