Nova Scotia child care centres are getting the help they need to hire, and keep, qualified staff. Community Services Minister Judy Streatch made the announcement of almost $5 million in extra funding today, March 7, in Halifax. “The province is moving forward on its commitment to improving and expanding child care across Nova Scotia,” said Ms. Streatch. “This funding is available to all licensed child care centres to help enhance staff salaries and benefits which will, in turn, provide a foundation for recruitment and retention of staff.” The child care operating grant is a key part of the Early Learning and Child Care Plan and is available to licensed commercial and non-profit full-day child care centres. Centres will receive $8 per day, per occupied space, for infants, and $3 per day, per occupied space, for children 18 months old to school age. The grant will replace the salary enhancement, equipment, infrastructure, and infant care grants that had been issued to non-profit child care centres. The child care operating grant is about $54 million of the $130-million plan. “Wages for child care workers are a critical factor in the competitive recruitment and retention of my staff,” said Bronwien Richardson, director of Dutch Village Child Care. “This funding could also help develop a staff pension program or increase their vacations, improving the lives of these coveted and appreciated employees.” Licensed, full-day child care centres have until April 10 to submit their child care operating grant applications. More information and the application form can be found at: www.gov.ns.ca/coms/families/elcc.html . A 10-year, made-in-Nova Scotia, child care plan was announced in May. The Early Learning and Child Care Plan will add more day-care spaces, increase subsidized spaces, and provide support for the province’s child care sector.
Students who are struggling in school will have more opportunities to learn in creative ways and develop skills that will help prepare them for good jobs and higher education. The province is providing $125,000 to the Bridge Centre for Arts and Technology, which uses after-school programs including ceramics, dance, spoken-word and digital arts to engage students who might otherwise consider dropping out of school. “Every student has unique strengths and challenges, and in Kids and Learning First we committed to help every student succeed,” said Education Minister Ramona Jennex. “The Bridge Centre is a valuable resource for students along with the support they receive in schools. We’re pleased to help provide more opportunities for our youth.” The centre, located in downtown Dartmouth, offers programs for students in Halifax and Dartmouth. The organization has an agreement with Halifax Regional School Board where students must attend class in order to take part in the centre’s programs. The province has also committed to help Bridge Centre work with industry and post-secondary partners to offer skills and career training for young adults who are out of school. “Nova Scotia offers many exciting prospects for young people who are trained in skilled trades and technology,” said Marilyn More, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. “We look forward to working with the Bridge Centre to help prepare youth for good jobs here at home.” Bridge Centre chair David Graham welcomes the provincial support. “We have hit a number of critical milestones in recent months, but none as critical as this transitional funding from government,” Mr. Graham said. “This will allow us to launch regular programming early in 2013.”