Photo: Beth Bap Church/Unsplash

A coalition advocating for a universal, publicly funded, not-for-profit early learning and child care system in Nova Scotia has shared its recommendations for what that system should look like in this province.

This spring, the federal government announced it was investing $27.2 billion over the next five years to create a national, community-based quality child-care system in partnership with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners.

On Monday, Child Care Now NS announced it had presented its specific recommendations and considerations for how that early learning and child care system should be rolled out in Nova Scotia.

“Our main message is that Early Learning and Child Care in Nova Scotia needs a complete overhaul in the way it is funded, delivered, and managed,” Child Care Now NS steering committee member Christine Saulnier said in a June 28 media release.

“We made recommendations to government that outlined how the system should be rolled out to ensure that access to current and new child care spaces are universally accessible and affordable while at the same time raising the quality of programs and making them more inclusive and culturally-safe.”

In its June 28 submission to the Nova Scotia government, the coalition notes that it is “critical” to implement a plan that considers the impact on children, families, early childhood educators, and early learning and child care programs in the province.

The coalition believes capital and operational funding is needed to expand full-day, full-year, affordable non-profit child care for everyone under 12, to improve wages and benefits to those working in child care, and to ensure affordable fees for parents.

In response to a request from the provincial government, Child Care Now NS proposed recommendations for Nova Scotia’s plan based on four questions.

Those questions included: how to better support access to more spaces for children provincewide; what should government consider when making policy decisions about who should pay less or more; how to ensure providers give a “universally accessible approach” to all children regardless of ethnicity, language, faith, ability, gender, etc.; and how to ensure a strong, qualified, and stable workforce of early childhood educators.

“Our main message is that the government must be focused on ensuring that the building of this system is evidence-based, transparent and open, with meaningful and ongoing opportunities structured into the system for input from early childhood educators, service providers, parent and community groups, unions, Indigenous communities, and researchers,” the coalition noted at the end of its submission.

Yvette d’Entremont is a bilingual (English/French) journalist and editor who enjoys covering health, science, research, and education.

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