Types of child care

Learn about the types of child care in Ontario.

Licensed private-home day care

Individual home caregivers are not licensed by the Ministry of Education, but are contracted by private-home day care agencies. The ministry issues licenses to these agencies. Licensed agencies then screen, select and sign contracts with home caregivers.

These home caregivers may care for infants, toddlers and pre-school aged children. They may also offer before-and-after school care for children.

There are approximately 16,142 children enrolled in private-home day care as of March 31, 2014. 

Benefits

  • Government-regulated and inspected
  • Children of the same family may be placed together
  • Child care agency provides assistance, support and monitoring
  • Caregiver has to meet certain standards of care
  • Small group size
  • Child care fee subsidy may be available

Home visitors

Home visitors work for private-home daycare agencies. They screen and monitor home caregivers affiliated with a licensed agency. Home visitors may have training in early childhood education, child development and/or family studies.

They check that a home is safe before children are enrolled and conduct routine inspections to ensure caregivers are following provincial rules, as well the agency’s policies and procedures.

Home visitors can also help families find a home caregiver that is affiliated with a licensed agency and meets their needs.

Home visitors can help caregivers by:

  • developing programs for children at different stages of development
  • providing advice about nutritious meal planning
  • helping choose toys and equipment that are safe and suitable

Inspections

At least once per year, the Ministry of Education inspects private-home daycare agencies, and some home child care locations, to ensure they meet the licensing standards.

Licensed child care centre

Licensed child care centres care for infants and toddlers, as well as pre-school and school-aged children.

They include nursery schools, full-day and extended hours care, and before-and-after-school programs.

Child care centres operate in a variety of locations including workplaces, community centres, schools and places of worship.

There are 5,069 licensed child care centres across the province with 317,868 spaces. 

Benefits

  • Government-regulated and inspected
  • Children are with other children their age
  • Staff members include professionals with training in early childhood education
  • The centre has to meet certain standards of care
  • Activities are designed for children at different stages of development
  • A child care fee subsidy may be available

Inspections

At least once a year, the Ministry of Education inspects child care centres to ensure they meet specific provincial health, safety and developmental standards.

Kindergarten before- and after-school care

Where there is sufficient demand, schools that offer full-day kindergarten also offer before-and-after-school programs. These play-based programs complement the regular school day with a mix of exploration, guided independent activities, quiet times and outdoor play.

School boards may offer before-and-after-school programs directly, or through licensed third-party providers that offer programs in a school setting. The majority of these programs are licensed, except for some operated by school boards.

Unlicensed care

In Ontario, unlicensed, informal care is not regulated by the government. These unlicensed caregivers are not inspected by the Ministry of Education, and are not required to meet provincial standards. However, the Ministry of Education does investigate all complaints from the public about child care providers who may be operating illegally.

5-child rule

Unlicensed caregivers must follow rules under the Day Nurseries Act, the existing legislation governing child care in Ontario. This legislation restricts the number of children an unlicensed provider can legally care for.

Anyone who cares for more than 5 children must be licensed.

This limit on the number of children applies regardless of how many adults are present at the home and unlicensed providers may not operate at multiple premises.

Updated: April 21, 2015