Earn a Qualified
Early Childhood Education Diploma
Best Start was launched in 2004 as a plan to strengthen healthy development, early learning and child care services during a child’s first years. As part of this plan, a regulatory college of Early Childhood Educators was created to monitor and support professional standards of practice among child care practitioners.
The objective of the Early Childhood Educators Qualifications Upgrade Program is to financially support individuals studying in the field, working in home or centre-based agencies, Ontario Early Years centres, Parenting and Family Literacy centres, Head Start programs, or in publicly funded schools, to obtain a ECE diploma and become eligible to apply for membership with the College of Early Childhood Educators (CECE).
Financial support is available to eligible applicants in the form of an education grant, travel grant, and training allowance. We are still accepting full-time and part-time applications for the fall 2017 semester. We will begin accepting applications for the winter semester as of December 4, 2017.
What type of financial assistance is available through the Early Childhood Educators Qualifications Upgrade program?
The following types of financial assistance are available through this program:
- Education Grants are available to cover tuition fees related to a recognized Early Childhood Education diploma.
- Travel Grants are available to assist Education Grant recipients with daily commute expenses incurred to attend classes or to complete the placement component of their program.
- A Training Allowance of up to $5,000 per semester for full-time studies and up to $300 per course for part-time studies is available to assist education grant recipients with living expenses and other additional costs incurred while pursuing a recognized Early Childhood Education diploma. Full-time and part-time students working 30 hours or more per week are now eligible to receive a book allowance of $150.00 per course up to a maximum of $500.00 per semester, as part of the training allowance.
Do I have to work for a minimum period of time within an eligible agency before I can apply for financial assistance under the Early Childhood Educators Qualifications Upgrade program?
Yes. You must work within an eligible agency in Ontario for at least 12 months before you are eligible to apply for financial assistance. The eligible agencies are as follows:
What if I changed employers, will the program consider my total employment period within eligible agencies for the purpose of the 12 month eligibility period?
Yes. The total period of time that you have been employed within eligible agencies in Ontario will be considered toward the 12 month eligibility period.
Is financial assistance available to staff who work part-time?
Yes. Financial assistance is available to full-time and part-time employees working within an eligible agency.
What if I completed an Early Childhood Educator program before being hired, can I apply for reimbursement of my tuition through this program?
No. This program is to support individuals presently working in the field who want to upgrade their qualifications.
I am currently employed within an eligible agency and am also enrolled in a qualifying program. Can I receive funding?
Yes. You can apply for funding related to the courses that you have not yet completed, provided that you meet the eligibility criteria.
Will the program consider courses offered at colleges outside of Ontario?
No. Since there are a number of program delivery options available in Ontario, this program will only consider applications for programs offered within this province.
Are the fees related to apprenticeship training eligible under this program?
No. Apprenticeship fees are not eligible; however, if you intend on pursuing the additional course work required to obtain your Early Childhood Education diploma, you can apply for an education grant to cover the tuition fees related to those courses.
Are university programs in the field of Early Childhood Education or other related college programs eligible for financial assistance?
No. This program is to support individuals working within the regulated child care system in Ontario who want to earn their Early Childhood Education diploma.
Is the Early Childhood Education diploma offered through Mothercraft eligible under this program?
Yes. This diploma is eligible for financial assistance.
If I want to apply for credit towards my diploma through the Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process, can I apply for financial assistance towards the related fees?
No. PLAR fees are not eligible for financial assistance under the Early Childhood Educators Qualifications Upgrade program.
I am currently taking ECE courses at a recognized college in Ontario to obtain my College of Early Childhood Educators – Letter of Equivalency, are these courses eligible for financial assistance under the program?
Yes. These courses are eligible under the program.
Can I terminate my employment in order to return to school full-time in an approved program?
Yes, however we would suggest that you apply for funding and wait for confirmation of approval, prior to terminating your employment. Please review the “How to Apply” section of the program guidelines for details regarding this process. If you are approved for a grant, you will be asked to sign a legal agreement stipulating that you will return to work in the regulated child care system in Ontario. The requirements will vary depending on individual circumstances. Please contact the Program Administrator for more information.
The application for travel grant asks me for the name of the agency where I will complete my placement. What if I don’t have this information at the time of application?
If the information regarding your placement is not known and you wish to apply for a travel grant related to expenses incurred to attend classes, you should submit your application as soon as possible. You can provide the information regarding your placement at a later date. It is important to remember that expenses incurred prior to receiving approval from the Program Administrator will not be eligible for reimbursement. It generally takes approximately 4 weeks to process an application once all the required information has been submitted.
What happens if I’m approved for financial assistance?
A letter is sent to you when your application has been approved by the Program Administrator. The letter is accompanied by a Grant Assistance Agreement which specifies the terms and conditions for the provision of financial assistance, as well as a Confirmation of Payment Instruction form so that you can receive payment through direct deposit. After you have signed the agreement, you will return all of the documents to the Program Administrator and a copy will be returned to you for your records, once finalized.
How is my grant calculated?
The education grant is based on your tuition fees, minus any other grants or awards; excluding OSAP.
The travel grant is determined by multiplying the kilometre rate of $0.41 per kilometre by the return distance between the applicant’s home address and the educational institution or placement location, and then by the number of days of the classes or placement.
The training allowance is based on the number of courses you are taking per semester. The maximum training allowance is $5,000.00 per semester for full-time studies and $300.00 per course for part-time studies.
Can I apply for all three grants?
Yes. You can apply for the education grant and travel grant. All approved education grant recipients (full-time and part-time) are automatically assessed for a training allowance and therefore no application is required for the training allowance.
When can I expect to receive my grant payments?
For full-time studies, grants are payable in 2 payments. The first at the beginning of the academic year and the second payable mid-year, once the applicant submits a transcript for their first semester. For part-time studies, grants are payable at the beginning of every semester. Payments are only made once the program administrator receives your signed Grant Assistance Agreement.
Is the grant funding taxable?
Grant recipients will be issued a T4A slip at the end of every calendar year in which they received payment. For more information, please visit the web site of the Canada Revenue Agency.
Are faxed applications accepted or do I have to mail originals?
Yes. Faxed, mailed, and emailed applications are accepted.
What happens if I’m approved for a grant and then I withdraw from my studies?
It is your responsibility to inform the Program Administrator immediately if you withdraw from your funded course(s) and or program. If you withdraw from your studies, you are required to repay the education grant, as well as any travel grant and or training allowance received for the withdrawn course(s). If you fail to advise the Program Administrator of your course withdrawal, you will be liable to repay the grant, plus interest and you will be ineligible to apply for any further grants.
What happens if I’m approved for a grant and I fail or do not complete a course within the program?
Once you are approved for funding, you are responsible for ensuring that you meet all academic requirements to continue in and successfully complete your funded course(s) and or program. If you fail or do not complete a course, you are required to repay the education grant, as well as any travel grant and or training allowance received for the failed course(s).
What is considered full-time studies?
To be eligible to receive funding for full-time studies, you must be considered a full-time student by your educational institution, and you must carry at least a 60% course load during the semester.
What happens if I receive full-time funding and receive course exemptions during the semester?
If you receive 1 or more course exemptions during the semester in which you are receiving funding, you must inform the grant Program Administrator immediately. If your course load drops below 60%, you will be considered a part-time student and will be required to repay any education grant, travel grant and or training allowance received for the exempt course(s).
Please note that if you terminated your employment to pursue full-time studies and are now considered a part-time student, you must secure employment with an eligible agency to be eligible for additional funding under the program. If you fail to advise the Program Administrator of your course exemptions, you will be liable to repay the grant, plus interest and you will be ineligible to apply for any further grants.
Where can I go to get more information about the Early Childhood Educators Qualifications Upgrade program?
Additional information on the Early Childhood Educators Qualifications Upgrade program is available from the website or by calling the toll free number, at 1-866-989-9299.
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