Who to contact
- Department of Education, Early Learning and Lifelong Learning
- (902) 438-4130
In Prince Edward Island, the Early Childhood Development division of the Department of Education, Early Learning and Lifelong Learning is responsible for licensing and monitoring early learning and child care programs, administering government funding, and providing family support programs. The Schools in PEI division of the Department is responsible for kindergarten.
Finding child care
Facts and figures
- There is a regulated space for 26.6% of children aged 0–12 years. (2019)
- There is a regulated full or part-time centre-based space for 41% of children aged 0–5 yrs. (2019)
- 65% of child care is owned by private, for-profit organizations. There is no publically 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 PEI.
The province offers several resources to support families locate licensed early learning and child care programs in their community.
The Directory of Licensed Early Learning and Child Care Centres includes descriptions of different types of care available and information about programs locations, hours, and age groups served.
The Early Learning and Child Care Registry also helps families locate licensed early learning and child care centres in their community and allows families to join waitlists online.
A guide to quality child care is available to provide tips on what to look for and questions to ask.
Paying for child care
Families are responsible for paying child care fees.
In 2019, a national survey of child care fees found the full-time, monthly median parent fee in Charlottetown (including centre-based and home child care) was $738/mo for infants, $608/mo for toddlers, and $586/mo for preschoolers.
See In Progress: Child care fees in Canada 2019 for a breakdown of child care fees in 37 cities across Canada.
The Child Care Subsidy Program, administered by the Supports and Services division of the Department of Social Development and Housing, provides eligible families with a partial or full subsidy based on a province-wide income test. Find more information, including specific eligibility criteria, in the Child Care Subsidy Policies.
In Prince Edward Island, subsidies can be used in either non-profit or for-profit regulated centres, and family child care. In non- Early Years Centres where the fees are not capped families are responsible for paying a share of the fee.
To apply for subsidy, contact the child care subsidy office at 1-877-569-0546 for more information or to set up an appointment.
An online subsidy calculator is available for families to estimate subsidy amounts.
Note: You must find a child care centre or family home day care for your child before a subsidy can be applied. Applications for the above program are not available online.
Regulated child care
Meeting the regulations is an important basis for quality but is considered to be a minimum in all provinces/territories. High quality centres:
- Go above and beyond minimum standards by, for example, increasing the number of staff or hiring staff with more than required early childhood training.
- Incorporate non-required elements into the program such as community involvement or inclusion of children with special needs.
- Develop their own approach to requirements such as a well-defined pedagogical approach.
On Prince Edward Island, early childhood centres, school-age child care centres and regulated family child care must operate in accordance with the regulations set out in the Early Learning and Child Care Act and Regulations.
Regulations address a wide range of standards: including window sizes, child to staff ratios, and outdoor time. Selected regulations related to program quality are highlighted below.
- PEI has three categories or levels of certification for Early Childhood Educators.
- In full and part day child care centres, centre supervisors and one full-time staff member in each program must have at least a one-year Early Childhood Development diploma or university Child Study degree.
- A child care supervisor must have either a two year diploma or degree program in early childhood education and care or a degree in child and family studies as well as 3,900 hours of experience working with children while holding a certificate.
- 45 hours of approved ongoing training is required every 3 years for all certified staff, not including family home child care providers or school age child care providers.
- In school-age centres, at least one staff person must have completed a 30 hour course related to the care and education of school-age children. If more than one staff person is required, at least one more staff person must meet this requirement.
- In family child care homes, providers must have completed a 30 hour course related to the care and education of infants and preschoolers.
- 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 80 spaces overall.
|Age of child||Indoor staff:child ratios||Outdoor staff:child ratios||Max group size|
|0-under 22 months||1:3||1:3||6|
|22 months-3 years||1:5||1:7||not specified|
|3 years-school entry||1:10||1:15||not specified|
Family child care
The maximum capacity for a regulated family child care home (Family Home Centre) is eight children, aged infant to school age, including the provider’s own children as long as the following ratio is met: One staff person for three infants (under 22 months); one staff for every five toddlers (22 months to three years old); one staff for every ten preschoolers (three to five years old); and one staff person for every 15 school-aged children (six years old or older).
Regulated centres are not required to provide meals (if they’re not provided, children bring them from home). Designated Early Years Centres are required to provide meals. If meals are provided, they must be in accordance with the Canada Food Guide to Health Eating.
There is no minimum outdoor time requirement. A child care centre must provide a minimum of seven square metres of outdoor space for each child enrolled; exceptions may be made to this requirement if adjacent outdoor space is not available.
Child care providers may share outdoor space with another licensed centre as long as the outdoor space is used by one operator at a time.
The supervisor is required to develop and post behavior management policies. The supervisor must also instruct all staff and program volunteers as to the behaviour management policies in effect at the program. Policies must indicate a positive approach to discipline and prohibit any form of physical punishment, verbal or emotional abuse or denial of necessities.
In Early Years Centres operators are required to implement a parent advisory committee.
The regulations require that basic health and safety precautions are 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
- Ensure the safe storage and administration of prescription medication.
PEI adopted a play-based curriculum framework, Relationships, environments, experiences for regulated child care programs in 2012; it is mandatory for Early Years Centres (but not other child care centres) to use it.
The regulations do not address all aspects of quality. For example, the regulations do not address levels of, or strategies for parental involvement.
Unregulated child care
A person may operate a centre without a license if any of the following apply:
- Serving up to five children, including those of the operator, where two may be infants;
- Serving up to six children, including those of the operator, where there are only preschool children or preschool and school-age children;
- Serving up to seven children all in the school-age range, including those of the operator.
Children with disabilities
A child with a diagnosed disability may be eligible for childcare subsidy, regardless of parental employment or education/training enrolment. Find eligibility criteria in the Child Care Subsidy Policies.
Licensed child care centres may apply for a Special Needs Grant to cover the cost of additional staff required to support children with disabilities. The Special Needs Grant helps lower the child to staff ratio in environments with children requiring additional or specific care.
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.