FAQ - New Funding Model for Regulated Child Care Centres in Nova Scotia
Below are some commonly asked questions related to the new funding model for regulated child care centres.
These FAQs will be updated as required to respond to questions brought forward from the child care sector.
Important information related to the Quality Investment Grant and Program Support Funding can be found in the Quality Improvement Grant and Program Support Funding Terms and Conditions.
What is Quality Matters?
Quality Matters is a province-wide assessment program that will be used to determine eligibility for funding for licensed child care centres.
It is based on evidence-based research regarding the importance of quality early childhood education experiences for children, and informed by international practices to support quality improvements in regulated child care centres.
The purpose of Quality Matters is to ensure that eligibility to receive provincial funding for licensed child care centres is directly linked to meeting specific outcomes in the following:
- Compliance with provisions of Nova Scotia’s Day Care Act, Day Care Regulations, and licensing and monitoring activities;
- Accountability for provincial funding, including compliance with the conditions of the Funding Agreement and the accompanying terms and conditions for each of the grants received; specified in the written agreement as well as financial reporting requirements that are established by Education and Early Childhood Development;
- Program Quality focused on four keys elements of quality that are measured through a self assessment and strengthened through a Continuous Quality Improvement process. The elements are aligned closely with Nova Scotia’s Early Learning Curriculum Framework.
What are the four elements of quality?The four elements of quality are:
- Staff Qualifications, Professional Development, Human Resources and Compensation
- Quality, Inclusive Learning Environments
Is there a specific number of violations that result in a chronic non-compliance decision?Chronic non-compliance refers to a situation where a child care facility or family home day care agency has demonstrated at least one of the following:
- repeated violation(s) of the same section(s) of the Act and regulations over a 12-month period or other period as determined by the department
- two or more violations at multiple inspections over a 12-month period or other period determined by the department
The Quality Matters process is not meant to be punitive.
It is meant to help operators engage in a continuous quality improvement process. Licensing Inspection results will only impact the Quality Matters rating for Compliance if the centre has been identified with chronic non-compliance.
Are centres able to retain their license if they lose funding?
Yes. Centres may retain their license even if their funding has been impacted by a Quality Matters rating of “0” or “1”.
It is important to note that the licensee of a child care facility or family home day care agency is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Day Care Act (the Act) and Regulations (the regulations) at all times.
The Compliance and Enforcement Standards identify the steps that are followed when a regulated child care facility or family home day care agency is found to be in non-compliance with the Act and regulations.
Does R1 rating in quality matters mean a loss in funding?
If the centre is missing indicators in one of the areas of compliance or accountability, resulting in a rating of R1, the centre will need to establish an action plan for addressing the deficiencies that have been established.
If, after two years of a rating of R1, a centre is not able to resolve the issues identified, they will be moved to monthly funding and risk having their funding cancelled or suspended if immediate steps are not taken to resolve them.
Will ratings be posted online through Directory of Licensed Child Care Facilities?Not at this time.
Given the requirements under Quality Matters, will additional early childhood development consultants be added?As Quality Matters and other key initiatives roll out, the Early Years Branch will ensure that child care centres are supported through adequate resourcing within the Branch.
What is the link between Quality Matters and curriculum implementation?
There is a strong link between Quality Matters and the Nova Scotia Early Learning Curriculum Framework.
Participation in Quality Matters and implementation of the curriculum framework are key components of the new funding model. Some centres may choose to link their Quality Matters goals with plans for implementing the new curriculum framework.
Are new goals required annually? Will the process reflect the fluidity of centre operations?
The Quality Improvement Plan must be submitted annually and document the centre’s commitment to Continuous Quality Improvement. Continuous Quality Improvement is based on reflective practice and respects the individual needs of centres.
The Quality Improvement Plan will provide evidence of the centre’s progress in meeting their goals and will include timelines for completion.
It is possible that some goals will require several steps that may take more than one year to complete. It is also possible that goals may change. The most important commitment is to the process itself.
If we are setting goals with our Quality Improvement Plan, how will we be held accountable? How will you know I’m working on them?Your early childhood development consultant will be touching base with you regularly through site visits, phone calls and written communication to review your progress toward goals and identify any barriers or challenges that may be impeding your progress.
Will I know what my rating is?Yes. The Quality Matters rating will not be a surprise to any centre. Program staff (early childhood development consultants) will be working closely with Licensees and Directors throughout the process.
What training will be provided to the sector? To the early childhood development consultants?
A variety of professional development opportunities are going to be available to all licensees related to the implementation of Quality Matters, the Nova Scotia Early Learning Curriculum Framework and other initiatives related to the 2016 Child Care Plan.
From January – April 2018, licensees will be able to take part in information sessions and view a series of short videos that will clearly outline the Continuous Quality Improvement process.
If a centre is experiencing operational challenges will they use the Quality Improvement Plan to plan for changes to their operations?
Quality Matters is designed to improve the overall quality of the centre. If centre operational challenges are impacting improvements in quality, then the centre’s Quality Improvement Plan may reflect the improvements that need to be made.
However, in cases where there are significant compliance or accountability challenges, separate action plans will be required to document the mitigations and timelines for correcting the issues.
What is the timeline for tying Quality Matters and funding together?
In 2018-19, licensees will be required to become familiar with the Quality Matters program and complete the quality self-assessment tool.
For the 2019-20 grant applications, licensees will be required to submit a Quality Improvement Plan with their applications and will receive their first ratings for Compliance and Accountability.
Will this create an additional administrative burden for centre directors?
There will be additional administrative tasks for centre directors and licensees related to the implementation of Quality Matters.
However, the Quality Matters requirements should easily be incorporated into the day to day work of the centre; in addition, for some centres who already participate in planning and quality improvement, the administration will be very minimal.
Will there be funding available for the quality improvement initiatives?
The funding model has three ‘enablers’ (i.e., funding streams) to help centres to achieve quality outcomes.
All funding provided through the 3 funding streams (Quality Improvement Grant, Program Support Funding and inclusion support) may be used to support centres in the implementation of the Quality Matters program.
What changes will I need to make to my program on January 1, 2018 regarding quality?
From January to March 2018, we do not expect any additional changes to be made to your program.
As a condition of receiving Quality Improvement Grant funding, we are asking that Licensees review the Quality Matters documents with their early childhood development consultant and attend an information session on Quality Matters.
By January 2019, all licensees will need to complete a self-assessment and submit a Quality Improvement Plan.
Will there be forms to fill out for QM?Yes, there are templates that EECD will provide that will guide you through the Continuous Quality Improvement process.
How far back will the audit process review?
The purpose of the audit is to identify if funding provided through the Quality Improvement Grant and Program Support Funding is used for its intended purpose within the terms and conditions of the current agreement.
Centres chosen for an audit will need to provide the appropriate documentation for at least the full quarter for when they received Quality Improvement Plan and Program Support Funding.
However, if the audit process demonstrates a need to reach further back into a Licensee’s funding history with EECD, more than one quarter of information can be requested.
When will random audits start?
In January 2018. The purpose is to reconcile the information provided to department on the Quality Improvement Grant reporting form with the funding a centre receives. It’s not an in-depth forensic audit, but rather to see that the money provided is being used as intended.
Will I receive notice that I am being audited?Yes. Centres will receive written notice that they have been randomly selected for an audit including complete details of the information that is being requested from the department for the audit.
How many centres will be audited each year?Up to five centres per quarter or 20 centres per year will be randomly selected for and Audit. Centres will have 15 days to provide the required documentation.
Fifteen days seems to be a quick turn-around, is this reasonable?The information requested for the audit, such as attendance records, payroll information, correspondence to families, etc., are normally readily available and accessible, particularly with advanced notice provided.
Are the audits carried out by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development or a third-party auditing firm?Audits are carried out by staff within the Early Years Branch.
Will all centres receive an increase of 3% with Program Support Funding?
Going into this new agreement, all centres will receive a minimum 3% increase on their total grant allocation (Quality Improvement Grant and Program Support Funding, when applicable, not including Supported Child Care Grant/inclusion support) over the 2017/18 annual allocation.
Quality Improvement Grant amounts may change upward or downward after this initial calculation based on quarterly reports.
Will the 3% increase only be provided for 2018/19?
The 3% increase will be provided upon the initial calculation of Quality Improvement Grant/ Program Support Funding under the new agreement which will end in March 2019.
We cannot commit to out years until the respective Provincial budget planning processes are completed.
Can funding be used to enhance salaries for non-ratio employees such as Supported Child Care Grant staff?
Yes. The priority for Quality Improvement Grant and Program Support Funding is to pay all staff required for ratio the wage floor. However, additional trained staff who received provincial funding in 2017-18 cannot receive a decrease in their wages.
Additionally, licensees can use uncommitted Quality Improvement Grant and Program Support Funding to increase the wages of additional trained staff not required for ratio.
When will details on the new inclusion funding be available?We will provide more details on the inclusion funding early in the new year.
Will the funding calculations for part-day centres be different from full day centres?Yes. Centres with a part-day license will receive 0.5 (half) of the full Quality Improvement Grant calculated amount and centres with a full-day license will receive the full Quality Improvement Grant funding amount.
Is there an allowance for centres who are paying above wage floor to continue this practice?
Centres are strongly encouraged to pay above the wage floor if that is their practice.
An important feature of the Quality Improvement Grant is that 100% of the grant can be directed toward staff wages. Under the Early Childhood Enhancement Grant, licensees could only direct up to 80% of grant funding to wages.
Can we stop paying non-ratio, trained staff at the wage floor?
Non-ratio, trained staff are not required to be paid the wage floor.
However, all staff employed prior to December 31, 2017 who wages were increased through Early Childhood Enhancement Grant and Wage Support Funding cannot receive a decrease in their wages.
Is funding available for centre directors to recognize increased work because of implementing Quality Matters?
Although funding through the Quality Improvement Grant is not directly targeted to directors, the Quality Improvement Grant calculation will take into consideration the training level of the director if he/she has a higher classification than a staff required for ratio.
Additionally, uncommitted funding can be used by licensees to increase the wages of directors if other requirements related to paying the wage floor are met.
Does the new grant calculation allow for mixed age groupings?Yes. The grant calculation provides funding to centres based on their maximum licensed capacity (with an 80% enrolment threshold). If a centre has mixed age groupings, the staff -to-child ratio must be based on the youngest child in the group.
If, as of June 2016, I have a licensed capacity of 30 but an enrolment of 38, how will my funding be calculated?The Quality Improvement Grant will be calculated based on the centre’s licensed capacity of 30.
What if my enrolment does not get above the 80% threshold?
The department will continue to fund your centre as though it is operating at 100% capacity for an additional 6 months. At that time, you will be expected to undertake and document actions to maximize enrolment, with the support of the department.
After an additional 6 months, if your centre continues to struggle to maintain at least 80% enrolment, continued funding at 100% will be reviewed and may be reduced.
If I increased my Licensed Capacity after June 2016, will I get additional funding for that?
No. Centres that increased their licensed capacity after the release of the child care plan in June 2016 were informed that no additional provincial funding would be provided to their centre.
When you apply for the Quality Improvement Grant you may only include staffing information and attendance up to your maximum licensed capacity as of June 2016.
Can funding be used for benefits for staff?Yes. The criteria for paying the wage floor to trained staff required for ratio and ensuring that staff that received an enhancement to their wages from provincial grant funding in 2017 do not see a decrease in their wages must be met first.
Can I use the Quality Improvement Grant and Program Support Funding to provide a wage for the centre director that is higher than the staff he/she supervises, particularly given the focus of leadership under quality and the additional responsibilities required by this role?Yes. Once the conditions of the grants are met, uncommitted Quality Improvement Grant and Program Support Funding can be used to increase the wages of the director.
I am the director but spend some time as ratio staff. Can I count myself in the top-trained staff?Yes. If a director’s classification is greater than another staff that is required for ratio (e.g. Entry Level), the centre will receive a per diem amount based on the director’s training level.
Under the Quality Improvement Grant, even with the additional 3%, I will not receive much more funding. Why?
The key issues that arose during consultation were reflected in the final model: flexibility, more frequent reporting, and a direct link between funding and quality.
The Program Support Funding will be used to ensure that, upon entering into the new agreement, initial allocations will provide a minimum of a 3% increase over the 17/18 total grant allocation.
We anticipate that in addition to the 3% increase, the changes around flexibility and quarterly reporting will enable licensees to maximize the benefits of the funding.
If my centre decides to use preschool spaces for toddlers part-way through the year and as a result, I require (and hire) additional staff to meet ratio, will we get Quality Improvement Grant funding for them?Yes, if total licensed capacity does not change. If there are any changes in staffing between quarters (every 3-month period) Quality Improvement Grant adjustments will be made at the beginning of the next quarter.
Will the Quality Improvement Grant amount I receive in January 2018 be different than the amount of Early Childhood Enhancement Grant funding I have been receiving?
Yes. Because the Quality Improvement Grant Per Diem rates have increased compared to the Early Childhood Enhancement Grant rates, and funding is calculated at your centre’s maximum licensed capacity, the Quality Improvement Grant calculation will be different.
First quarter calculations will ensure that all centres will receive at least the same amount of funding they received in 2017-18 through the Early Childhood Enhancement Grant and Wage Support Funding, plus an additional 3% in funding.
Will centres have to report Early Childhood Enhancement Grant, Wage Support Funding and Quality Improvement Grant separately even though they are all being paid in the same fiscal year?
Yes. All centres will be required to report on how Early Childhood Enhancement Grant and Wage Support Funding were utilized in 2017-18 as per the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Centres will also be required to report on the January 2018 – March 2018 Quality Improvement Grant and Program Support Funding that they have received.
Will centres be required to report on how funding was used for different categories?Centres will be required to submit financial reports that demonstrate how government funds were invested. Priority areas for investment are outlined in the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
Right now, I need to indicate on employee pay stubs how much of their pay is from the Early Childhood Enhancement Grant and Wage Support Funding. Will this need to continue with the Quality Improvement Grant?Yes.
Since additional funding for inclusion is only coming out in April 2018, will the Supported Child Care Grant still be available in January?Yes, Supported Child Care Grant funding will continue status quo until March 31, 2018. Centres that currently receive the Supported Child Care Grant will sign an amending agreement.
What are the parent fee averages based on?Regional parent fee averages are based on the parent fee information submitted in the 2016-17 Annual Report.
What if I increased my fees before the updated parent fee information came out?The updated parent fee averages will be effective January 1, 2018. Any increases before that date will be capped at 3% based on the Average Fee table in the April 2017 Child Care Funding Model Consultation Findings Overview.
The Regional average parent fee for my area seems low. Can I increase beyond 3% if my fees are already greater that 10% above the average?No. However, centres that wish to increase fees above the 3% due to operational pressures can contact EECD in writing with their request and include a rationale for the increase.
If staff upgrade their Classification levels will our centre receive the increased per diem rate?Yes. If there are any changes in staffing classification levels Quality Improvement Grant adjustments will be made at the beginning of the next quarter.
Can funding be used to buy equipment?Yes, uncommitted funds can be used to purchase materials and equipment as long as the purchase supports program quality.
The per diem rates do not match the scale of the increases in the wage floor requirements. Does 100% of the per diem for my level 1 need to be allocated to that specific staff?No. Licensees can reallocate funding if the terms and conditions of the agreement are met.
Why does the department use 260 operating days when calculating the grant?The department has historically used 260 operating days to calculate grants and factors in public holidays.
How does this grant address workforce issues?
The Department is addressing workforce issues through other means.
We are working with our colleagues at the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, our training institutions, and the new Nova Scotia Works Employment Services system, to develop a comprehensive workforce development plan to ensure the ongoing availability of skilled Early Childhood Educators.
To meet immediate needs, we are encouraging operators to reach out to their nearest Nova Scotia Works Employment Services Centre to assist them in their recruitment efforts. Marketing and job fairs are other great tools that we will be supporting in the coming months.