Nova Scotia spending $1.45M to help fill early childhood educator vacancies

Money will boost number of early childhood education seats at four Nova Scotia Community College campuses.

NSCC to receive money to expand training by 135 seats over two years

Education Minister Zach Churchill at Play, Learn, Grow Preschool and Family Centre in Bedford, N.S., on Tuesday. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

The Nova Scotia government is boosting the budget of the Nova Scotia Community College by $1.45 million so that four of its campuses can train more early childhood educators.

It's an attempt to train people to help fill the estimated 500 new jobs Ottawa and the province have promised to create by expanding daycare spaces and the pre-primary program in Nova Scotia.

"Affordable and accessible child care and early learning opportunities are services that families across our province want and that they need," Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill said in announcing the news Tuesday at Play, Learn, Grow Preschool and Family Centre in Bedford.

The expansion of training programs will happen this year and next, and will include 135 permanent and temporary seats. This coming school year will see 80 new spaces at the following campuses.

  • 20 permanent seats at the Wagmatcook campus.
  • 30 interim seats at the Burridge campus in Yarmouth.
  • 30 interim seats at the Akerley campus in Dartmouth.

Next year, 25 seats will be added at the Cumberland campus in Springhill and an additional 30 at the Akerley campus.

Trouble filling vacancies

It takes two years to earn a diploma in early childhood education. Those who own or run child-care programs are struggling to find trained staff to fill current vacancies, but Churchill dismissed the suggestion the province should have acted sooner. 

"We are acting soon," he told reporters. "Right now the hiring is actually going quite well."

"This is about looking two, three, four years out and making sure that we have the appropriate amount of people trained to meet the need that's being created for early childhood educators in the province," he said.

Sonia Hage-Cameron, who co-owns the centre where Churchill made the announcement, called it "challenging" to find properly trained early childhood educators. Her centre has been looking to fill a vacancy for six months.

"We have to, of course, advertise on all the possible sites," she told reporters. "There are some new initiatives through immigration that we have explored. And we also have Facebook pages and other centres talk to each other and operators. We're all in the same boat."

Teachers needed

Hage-Cameron said the lack of trained staff means programs are full, and some families have been on a wait list for a year. Still, she praised the province's efforts to train more early childhood educators.

"The biggest thing we need are the teachers to run the programs," she said. "You know we can set up any room we want to, but if we don't have a teacher to run it we can't run it."

Provincial authorities are also going to allow children who attend pre-primary classes this fall to go into before- and after-school programs at elementary schools.

If a program has fewer than eight four-year-olds, it will only need one educator per 15 students, which is the current ratio. Eight or more pre-primary students in a program will drop that ratio to one in 12. During snow days or in-service breaks, that ratio will drop to one in 10.