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June 18, 2001
(Health and Community Services)
(Human Resources and Employment)


$36.6 million for early childhood development initiatives

Thousands of children and families in every region of Newfoundland and Labrador will benefit from an announcement made by the provincial government in St. John's today. Gerald Smith, Acting Minister of Health and Community Services and Minister of Human Resources and Employment, Judy Foote, Minister of Education, and Yvonne Jones, Parliamentary Secretary to the health minister, provided details on the first year of a $36.6 million, five-year early childhood development (ECD) initiative. This is the first federal/provincial/territorial comprehensive program under the National Children's Agenda which will build on the solid foundation already in place in this province for children, families and their communities. This province's program, Stepping into the Future, has been designed specifically to meet the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador, and is a result of consultation with early childhood stakeholders.

The new funding will focus on four key areas of action, including: 

1) healthy pregnancy, birth and infancy; 
2) parenting and family supports; 
3) early childhood development, learning and care; and 
4) community supports. 

"Our goal is to help children reach their potential and to help families support their children within strong communities," said Minister Smith. "That is why we are pleased today to be able to make a commitment to early childhood development initiatives which enhance what we already have in place in Newfoundland and Labrador and support the objectives of government's Strategic Social Plan."

"It is known that reaching children early is critical to the development of their literacy skills," said Minister Foote. "This early childhood development initiative goes a long way to promoting early childhood development and achieving our goal of raising the provincial literacy levels, a priority identified in the province's Strategic Literacy Plan."

Specifically, in Newfoundland and Labrador, ECD funding will be spent in the following priority areas:

  • To introduce a Mother Baby Nutrition Benefit for low income families which will incorporate the Mother Baby Food Allowance;
  • To support Early Literacy and Transition to School by funding early childhood literacy programs and pre-Kindergarten orientation sessions;
  • To enhance existing Family Resource Programs and Healthy Baby Clubs, and create new ones;
  • To enhance Child Care Services by increasing the number of subsidized child care spaces, introducing a monetary supplement based on educational attainment for early childhood educators, and increasing supports for family home child care;
  • To strengthen Early Intervention Services for children with developmental disabilities and children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

"These priority areas have been determined after much work within our own provincial government, within other government jurisdictions and in consultation with key stakeholders in the early childhood development community," said Ms. Jones. "I want to express thanks to the community leaders who participated in making this process a viable one."

The Early Childhood Development initiative is an interdepartmental program with regional partners which is led by the Department of Health and Community Services. The funding is a long-term commitment, with an initial funding formula for five years commencing in 2001. Over $5 million of the $36.6 million will be spent in 2001-02.

Media contacts: 
Carmel Turpin, Health and Community Services, (709) 729-1377
Andrea Maunder, Education, (709) 729-0048
Gary Callahan, Human Resources and Employment, (709) 729-4062

Stepping into the future


The Early Childhood Development (ECD) initiative is a unique agreement reached between federal and provincial/territorial governments that recognizes the importance of the early years and the valuable role families and communities play in supporting children. Beginning in 2001, dedicated funding through the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) fund will be available in each jurisdiction to support investments in early childhood development. This initiative marks the first long-term commitment evolving from the National Children's Agenda and will provide an important contribution to the well-being of our youngest citizens. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is proud to be a partner in the development of the ECD initiative. Available funding will build on the current investments in this province and increase access to services for young children and their families. Focusing on the prenatal to age six period, the objectives of the ECD are:

  • to promote early childhood development so that, to their fullest potential, children will be physically and emotionally healthy, safe and secure, ready to learn, and socially engaged and responsible; and
  • to help children reach their potential and to help families support their children within strong communities.
Governments have agreed to reach these objectives through four key areas of action whereby investments will aim to:
  • promote healthy pregnancy, birth and infancy;
  • improve parenting and family supports;
  • strengthen early childhood development, learning and care; and
  • strengthen community supports.

Governments further agreed to being accountable to the public. Work has already begun on a shared framework and the development of comparable indicators. In fall 2001, jurisdictions will report on baseline data and report annually thereafter on the result of their investments.

Early Childhood Development Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador

The ECD is a long-term commitment, with an initial funding formula for five years due to start in 2001-2002. Funding for Newfoundland and Labrador is $36.6 million over a five-year period, commencing at $5.2 million in 2001-2002. The fund increases to approximately $8 million by year three and remains stable to year five. 

ECD priorities for investment were determined through consultation and will serve to strengthen existing services and programs currently available in the province. Funding will be incremental and predictable over the five-year period, with some adjustments possible during the implementation process. The following is a brief outline of the ECD initiatives to receive funding throughout the five-year period. The identified funding levels for the 2001-2002 fiscal year are:

  • $210,000 in addition to Mother Baby Food Allowance in the Income Support Program, Department of Human Resources and Employment, to introduce a Mother Baby Nutrition Benefit for expectant women and families with children under the age of one year and incomes below $21,744;
  • $356,831 toward Early Childhood Literacy and Transition to School Program, under the lead of the Department of Education, to enhance early learning experiences for young children;
  • $1.17 million for new and enhanced Family Resource Programs and Healthy Baby Clubs in the province as a means to expand the range of preventive and supportive community-based programs available for young children and their families;
  • $2.2 million to enhance Child Care Services, by increasing subsidized child care spaces, introducing a monetary supplement for Level I and Level II Early Childhood Educators, providing equipment grants for Family Home Child Care, and strengthening the delivery of child care services at regional and provincial levels;
  • $957,500 to strengthen Early Intervention Services for children with developmental delay/disabilities and children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and building on existing home-based early intervention services for young children and families;
  • $286,586 to strengthen provincial capacity to administer the ECD initiative, including on-going consultation with regional and community partners, and communications and evaluation/reporting to the public.
These collective initiatives reflect government's commitment to a number of strategic directions, including:
  • Complementing the directions of the provincial Strategic Social Plan and regional coordination processes to date;
  • Supporting the directions set out in the new Child Care Services Act and Regulations, the new Child, Youth & Family Services Act and Words to Live By: A Strategic Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador 2000;
  • Emphasizing prevention and early intervention services as a preferred service model, and building on the existing network of community-based resources for children, families and communities;
  • Emphasizing a coordinated and strengthened approach to meeting the needs of children and families, by uniting provincial, regional and local interests and resources in pursuit of common goals and outcomes; and
  • Emphasizing community and consumer involvement in the design and delivery of services and programs.

In the summer 2000, the Department of Health and Community Services led an ECD Interdepartmental Reference Group with a mandate to assist in the identification of priority areas for the ECD funding. One of the key activities of the group was the development of a process for involvement of a broader stakeholder group. Stakeholder consultation was held in October 2000 and included input from approximately 80 individuals across the province having interest in the early childhood period. Five key themes emerged from the priority-setting session, as follows
  • look at what is working well and build on it;
  • build on community capacity;
  • focus on childcare programs and services;
  • coordinate and disseminate public information; and
  • support families with special needs.
In addition the group reviewed relevant documents, programs and current research. The priorities for ECD funding were based on the emerging themes of the consultation and the on-going work of the ECD Interdepartmental Reference Group.

The next phase of the ECD initiative will involve implementation of each service component, evaluation design and monitoring of progress. The Department of Health and Community Services will continue to take responsibility for managing the administration of the ECD initiative and will work in partnership with other provincial departments, regional and community partners, and the federal government. The role and input of key stakeholders will be critical during the implementation phase as the design and delivery mechanisms of the funded components are addressed.

For further information on the ECD initiative, please contact:

Project Manager, ECD Initiative
Department of Health and Community Services
Confederation Building, West Block
P.O. Box 8700, St. John's, NF A1B 4J6
(709) 729-2959 (t); (709) 729-5824 (f); (e-mail)

Stepping into the future - Fact Sheet
Child Care Services
Child Care Subsidies:
The Child Care Services Subsidy program provides financial assistance for families to access regulated child care services for their children. Regulated child care services include centre-based and family home child care. Families may utilize child care for a number of reasons including employment and training for parents and developmental opportunities for children. Families who apply for subsidy must meet financial eligibility based on an income test.

The subsidy program has grown significantly in recent years with a current budget of over $5 million annually. Early Childhood Development funding will provide a further increase of $1 million in 2001-2002 and will grow to $1.3 million over the course of the five-year funding period.

Early Childhood Educators - Educational Supplement: The province recognizes the important contribution of trained Early Childhood Educators in their role of providing quality care to young children. The Child Care Services Act and Regulations require that staff who work within licensed child care centres meet minimum educational qualifications for the level of responsibility each staff member holds. Financial support for individuals currently employed, who require educational upgrading, has been funded by the province by way of subsidized courses.

Substantial Early Childhood Development funding will be provided in the form of an educational supplement to Early Childhood Educators with Level I and/or Level II certification working within licensed child care centres. The cost of this initiative will be $790,000 in 2001-2002 and increase to an annual amount of approximately $1.8 million by 2004. The details of the program administration will be developed based on consultations with relevant stakeholders.

Equipment Grants to Family Home Child Care: The province now has the ability to regulate family home child care. This provision within the Child Care Services Act is an important element in the evolution of child care in this province and contributes to the range of child care services available for families. Appropriate play materials and resources are important in any child care service. In recognition of this, the province reinstated annual equipment grants to licensed child care centres through the National Child Benefit Initiative. Early Childhood Development funding provides the opportunity for regulated family home child care providers to access equipment grants. The cost of this initiative will be $20,000 in 2001-2002 and growing to $70,000 in year three.

Professional Support: Access to professional support on child care services is an important resource at community, regional and provincial levels. Individuals and community groups often rely on Health and Community Services personnel to provide an array of professional services related to programming and administration of child care. Commencing in fiscal year 2001-2002, funding of $400,000 will further strengthen child care professional supports in the province. 

For more information, call: (709) 729-2668.

Stepping into the future - Fact Sheet
Family Resource Programs and Healthy Baby Clubs
Family Resource Programs:
Family Resource Programs are positive examples of community-based initiatives that provide a variety of programming for young children and their families. Programs are often delivered from resource centres, offering information and activities for children and family members. Programs are designed with participants in mind and aim to strengthen the capacity of partners and communities to provide supportive learning environments for all involved.

Currently the provincial government provides $1.15 million to eight Family Resource Programs in Newfoundland and Labrador. These programs add to the array of existing Family Resource Programs in the province made possible through various other funding sources.

Early Childhood Development funding will see the establishment of new programs in the province and increased support for existing programs. Early Childhood Development funding for 2001-2002 is $845,000 and will increase substantially in Year 2 as programs evolve. The new programs will be located in areas of the province where need, interest, and community capacity are demonstrated. A process for the selection of areas for new sites will be identified later this year utilizing existing data and in consultation with regional community partners.

Healthy Baby Clubs: Healthy Baby Clubs are pre- and post-natal support programs designed to promote healthy pregnancy and birth. Programs include a mix of peer and professional supports to expectant women and women with newborns who may require increased support. Programs provide information and positive strategies on ways to achieve and maintain healthy lifestyles. Healthy Baby Clubs currently operate from several existing Family Resource Programs in the province and are funded by various sources.

During fiscal year 2001-2002, $325,000 of Early Childhood Development funding will go toward enhancing Healthy Baby Clubs in five family resource programs operating in the province, including:
  • Kilbride to Ferryland Family Resource Centre
  • Vista Family Resource Centre (Bonavista and associated communities)
  • Dover and Area Family Resource Centre
  • Tree House Family Resource Centre (Deer Lake and associated communities)
  • Northern Peninsula- Labrador Straits Family Resource Centre
For more information on these Early Childhood Development initiatives, call: (709) 729-2959.

Stepping into the future - Fact Sheet
Early Intervention Services for Children with Disabilities
Early Intervention Services:
Home-based early intervention services for young children with developmental delays and disabilities has been demonstrated to make a significant difference to child development outcomes and improve quality of life factors for families. The province currently supports an array of services and programs for children with disabilities. Early Childhood Development funding will build on professional and para-professional home-based early intervention services to families of children with developmental delay/disabilities and behavioural concerns.

Specifically, the initiative will support seven new Child Management Specialist positions throughout the province, a Developmental Psychologist position at the Janeway Child Health and Rehabilitation Centre, and provincial consultation services. This increased regional and provincial resource capacity will support children and families wait-listed for early intervention services. Funding will also provide direct resources to families of children with Autism who require home therapy to further assist their children.

Autism Services: Increased funding will build on the Autism Pilot Project currently available in the province, absorbing the current wait-list for these services and supporting a comprehensive Autism Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador. It is estimated the new funding will increase services to children with Autism to 65 in 2001-2002, and 95 children per year commencing in 2002-2003. 

Overall, funding will focus on providing additional supports to existing programs and build on the current infrastructure. Start-up funding in 2001-2002 for these combined services is $957,500 and will increase in subsequent years.

For more information regarding this initiative please call (709) 729-3550.

Stepping into the future - Fact Sheet
Early Childhood Literacy Programs and Transition to School
Early Childhood Literacy Programs:
Words to Live By: A Strategic Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador 2000 states that "all children will benefit from access to high quality early childhood programs which contribute to their physical, intellectual, social and emotional well-being". Early childhood educators have stressed the importance of age-appropriate language and play to later literacy development.

At present, early childhood literacy programs are mostly offered on an ad hoc and/or short-term basis throughout the province. The Early Childhood Development initiative will strengthen the capacity for delivery of early childhood literacy programs.

Transition to School: This initiative will provide increased support for children and families prior to the Kindergarten year. The Transition Year Program will help children and families become comfortable with the school environment during the pre-Kindergarten year. This initiative is seen as an important step in assisting parents in their distinct and valuable roles of supporting children's education and literacy development. 

Combined with increased support for Early Childhood Literacy Programs, the Transition Year Program will build on the continuum of initiatives and services available from birth to school entry to provide young children and families with the best possible start on the road to lifelong learning.

Work has already begun on the transition year model and details concerning both initiatives will be available by the fall 2001. These combined initiatives will receive approximately $360,000 of Early Childhood Development funds in fiscal year 2001-2002.

For more information, call (709) 729-6185.

Stepping into the future - Fact Sheet
Mother Baby Nutrition Benefit

The Early Childhood Development will invest $210,000 in the fiscal year 2001-2002 to provide funding to see the introduction of a new nutritional benefit that will be available to all low-income expectant mothers and families with children under the age of one year. The purpose of the allowance is to provide extra funding to support the additional nutritional needs during pregnancy and throughout the child's first year of life. 

Presently, for families/single women in receipt of Income Support, the Department of Human Resources and Employment provides a Mother Baby Food Allowance of $45 a month to expectant women which is continued until the child's first birthday. There are currently approximately 1,450 recipients in receipt of this benefit across Newfoundland and Labrador, at a cost of approximately $780,000 per year.

Beginning in the fall 2001, this nutritional supplement will be moved out of the Income Support Program and, when combined with the Early Childhood Development funding, will provide a benefit of $45 per month to all single expectant mothers or low-income families with children under the age of one year with income less than $21,744 annually. This income level matches the maximum income parameter of the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit. 

Families in receipt of Income Support presently receiving the Mother Baby Food Allowance will continue to receive the same amount paid separately through the MBNB. The advantage for these families is that when they leave Income Support, they will continue to receive this extra benefit. Details on how to apply for this benefit will be announced in the coming months.

Expanding the Mother Baby Nutritional Benefit outside of the Income Support will mean an additional 500 to 600 low-income families will be eligible for this benefit.

For further information please feel free to contact Work Info Network 1 800 563-6600 or if calling in the St. John's area call (709) 729-6600.

2001 06 18                                                           10:30 a.m.

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