Child Care Spaces

Like the rest of Canada, families in the Northwest Territories face challenges in finding child care spaces for their children. The following is the status of child care spaces, including junior kindergarten and kindergarten.

Learn more about the types of child care.

Although we do not track unlicensed early learning and child care programs, they also provide early learning spaces for children. These programs include unlicensed family day homes (that care for four children or less), out-of-school programs (e.g., after-school clubs), and community-based programs, (e.g., 'Family & Tots' groups). 

Note: For accuracy, we have changed the way we count licensed early learning child care programs to better reflect the number of spaces available for children. We no longer count program spaces that are "on hold" as an available space. As a result, past numbers reported prior to 2023 may be different from 2023 onwards.

We will update this page every six months. This page was last updated on June 7, 2024.

Number of New Licensed Child Care Spaces Created

Under the Canada-NWT Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement and Action Plan, we have committed to creating 300 net new licensed early learning and child care spaces by March 31, 2026 to improve child care access for NWT families. A net increase accounts for both newly opened and closed spaces. Creating 300 net new spaces means we will have created 300 more spaces than have closed.

As of March 31, 2024, 76 net new full-time licensed infant and preschool child care spaces have been created that count towards our goal of 300 net new child care spaces by March 31, 2026. This is an overall increase of four spaces since March 31, 2023.

The chart above displays the number of licensed child care spaces on March 31 of each year. Between March 31, 2019, and March 31, 2024, there has been a net increase of 76 spaces. This means that 76 more spaces have opened than have closed since 2019.

Number of Licensed Early Learning and Child Care Programs

As of March 31, 2024, there were 107 licensed early learning and child care programs in the NWT

The above chart shows the number of licensed programs in each region, sorted by program type. The North Slave had the highest number of licensed programs, with 71, while the Sahtu had the fewest licensed programs with only two. Out of the 107 licensed programs, 66% of them are in the North Slave. The South Slave followed with the next highest percentage of licensed programs, at 16%. The number of licensed programs per region is proportional to the population estimate of each region.

The territory has 66 licensed centre-based programs, including out-of-school programs, compared to 41 licensed family day homes. In most regions, the number of centre-based programs and family day homes are comparable.

View a list of licensed programs.

Communities without Licensed Early Learning and Child Care Programs

There are 14 communities without licensed early learning and child care programs:

  • Colville Lake
  • Dettah
  • Enterprise
  • Fort Good Hope
  • Fort Liard
  • Fort McPherson
  • Jean Marie River
  • Kakisa
  • Łutselk’e
  • Nahanni Butte
  • Norman Wells
  • Sambaa K’e
  • Wrigley

Number of Licensed Child Care Spaces

As of March 31, 2024, there were 1,936 total licensed child care spaces in the NWT.

The above chart shows how many licensed child care spaces were available for each age group in each region. There were 284 infant spaces, 772 preschool spaces, and 880 out-of-school spaces. The North Slave had the highest number of licensed spaces with 1,178, while the Sahtu had the lowest with only 44 licensed spaces. The number of licensed spaces per region is proportional to the population estimate of each region.

Number of Children Enroled in Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten

For the 2023-2024 school year, there are a total of 1,034 children enroled in junior kindergarten and kindergarten classes in the NWT. This is a decrease of 34 enroled students from the previous 2022-2023 school year.

The above chart shows a breakdown of the number of children enroled in junior kindergarten and kindergarten programs, grouped by education body. The three education bodies with the highest enrolment are Yellowknife Catholic Schools (291), Yellowknife Education District No. 1 (180), and the Beaufort Delta Divisional Education Council (173). In contrast, the education bodies with the lowest enrolment are the Dettah District Education Authority (4), Ndilǫ District Education Authority (22), and the Dehcho Divisional Education Council (42). The number of children enrolled in Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten per region is proportional to the population estimate of each region.

The Dettah District Education Authority, Ndilǫ District Education Authority, Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency, Yellowknife Catholic Schools, and Yellowknife Education District No. 1 are all located in the North Slave region of the NWT. The Commission Scolaire Francophone, Territoires Du Nord-Ouest also operates schools in the North Slave and South Slave.