Overview

School boards must offer before and after school programs for children four to 12 years old where there is sufficient demand from parents and families.

These programs can be offered by school boards or third party providers, such as a licensed child care centre or an authorized recreational and skill building program provider.

School boards, working with community partners and families, can decide how they will provide before and after school programs.

Programs must be available if there is demand

The availability of before and after school programs in your child's school depends on whether there is sufficient demand and viability for a program. School boards determine sufficient demand at a local level by engaging with community partners, including parents with children who are enrolled or intend to enroll in kindergarten – Grade 6 with the school board.

Information on before and after school programs is provided to parents and guardians in writing and posted on the school board's website.

School boards are required to work with their local service system manager and First Nations to assess if there is sufficient demand and whether a proposed before and after school program is viable.

Factors that can help determine if a proposed before and after school program is viable might include:

  • unmet demand from families for before and after school care
  • whether there are providers who can expand existing programs, or establish new programs in schools
  • whether program costs can be recovered through parent fees

School boards must report their plans

By May of each year, school boards must provide the following information for the upcoming school year to parents and guardians in writing, and post on the school board's website:

  • the fees for before and after school programs
  • the process and approach for determining sufficient demand and viability
  • schools that will and will not offer a before and after school program
  • information on how to apply for financial assistance for before and after school programs
  • notice that if a third party program ceases to operate, the school board will ensure that another program will be available, but the fees, days and times of operation may change

School boards must report their plans to the ministry, including how sufficient demand was determined, which schools are exempt from the program, and details of before and after school programs such as fees, children enrolled, and type of provider.

Fees

Before and after school programs are funded through parent fees. The government does not regulate these fees.

Programs directly operated by a school board must be operated on a cost recovery basis. Fees for licensed child care centres, or authorized recreation programs, are set by the operator.

Child care centres cannot charge parents a waitlist fee for licensed child care and must include information about their fee for services in their parent handbook.

Subsidies

Child care subsidies might be available for children enrolled in licensed child care, an authorized recreational and skill building program or a board-operated program.

Eligible families can apply for a subsidy through their local service system manager.

Fee subsidies are not provided through school boards.

Children with special needs

Before and after school program providers must provide support for children with special needs at no additional cost to parents and guardians. However, the types of support can vary between the school day and the before and after school program.

The funding we give to local service system managers to plan, manage and coordinate child care for their surrounding region includes Special Needs Resourcing (SNR) funding to support the inclusion of children with special needs.

If programs are directly operated by a school board, the program's fees should factor in costs to support children with special needs.

Authorized recreational and skill building programs

The primary purpose of authorized recreational and skill building programs is to provide child care. As a complementary purpose, these programs provide activities that promote recreational, artistic, musical, or athletic skills or provide religious, culture or linguistic instruction. These programs must meet the criteria to operate without a licence in accordance with the CCEYA and its regulations.

Learn more about recreation programs for children.

Who can attend

Children aged four and up can attend authorized recreational and skill building programs. If the program is offered on or after September 1, children who are turning four by the end of the year can attend.

Who can provide these programs

These groups can operate authorized recreational and skill building programs:

  • the local service system manager, a municipality, a school board, a First Nation or the Métis Nation of Ontario
  • a member of YMCA Canada or by a member of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, an organization delivering the Ontario After School Program funded by the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries (MHSTCI)
  • an organization that is recognized by Parks and Recreation Ontario as a HIGH FIVE© accredited organization
  • a Friendship Centre that is a member of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
  • a member of a provincial sport organization or multi-sport organization recognized by the, Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries (MHSTCI) where the program's activities are related to the sport or sports promoted by the organization
  • an MHSTCI agency or attraction
  • a provider authorized by the local service system manager or First Nation provided that the program supports the health, safety, and well-being of children

Please contact your local service system manager, school board, First Nation or the Métis Nation of Ontario for programs offered in your community.

Hours of operation

Authorized recreational and skill building programs can operate without a child care licence for up to three consecutive hours, once a day.

Operating with expanded hours

Some authorized recreational and skill building programs could apply to operate before and after school programs:

  • for more than three hours a day
  • on non-instructional days during the school year

The application process for eligible authorized recreational and skill building providers who wish to operate with expanded hours in a new or existing program is now closed.

Eligible providers

The following providers were eligible to apply to operate with expanded hours:

  • a member of YMCA Canada or Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada
  • a local service system manager, municipality or First Nation
  • a Friendship Centre that is a member of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
  • an organization delivering Ontario's After School Program funded by the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries

We will allow a limited number of before and after school spaces to operate with enhanced hours and we will work with providers to monitor and evaluate the impact of enhanced hours on the child care and early years system.

When reviewing applications we prioritize programs that:

  • address gaps and/or parent demand for before and after school spaces by expanding program hours or creating new spaces
  • offer programming reflective of Indigenous and Francophone cultures, histories and perspectives
  • support school boards in meeting their duty to offer before and after school programs
  • support local community need, as identified through consultation with service system managers, school boards, families or other community organizations

Authorized recreational programs that are approved to operate under the exemption:

By applying, providers can seek approval to provide enhanced hours in their authorized recreational and skill building program under regulation 137-15 of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.

Qualifications for program staff

Programs operated by the school board

Board-operated programs are required to have at least one registered early childhood educator (RECE) to lead the program.

Licensed child care centres

Licensed child care centres are required to have at least one qualified staff per age group.

For groups with children younger than nine years of age (kindergarten, primary and junior school groups), the qualified staff must be a registered early childhood educator.

For groups where all children are nine to 12 years of age (junior school age groups, or a primary/junior school age group with only children nine years of age or older), a before school and/or after school program can employ either:

  • a registered early childhood educator
  • an individual with a college diploma or degree in child and youth care; recreation and leisure services
  • a member in good standing with the Ontario College of Teachers

Authorized recreational and skill building programs

If a school board enters into an agreement with an authorized recreational and skill building program to deliver a program, these programs must have at least one adult on-site that:

  • has completed, or is pursuing, a degree or diploma, in child and youth care, recreation and leisure services, or a related field such as social work, psychology, sociology, kinesiology with experience working with children aged four to 12
  • is a member in good standing with the College of Early Childhood Educators or the Ontario College of Teachers

For authorized recreational and skill building programs that are delivering a program on behalf of a school board to meet the duty under the Education Act, programs must have at least one adult that is enrolled in or a graduate of a post-secondary program listed in the before and after school programs: kindergarten to grade 6 guidelines (PDF, 347 kb).

Programming must align with the principles of How does learning happen

Before and after school programming must align with the principles set out under How does learning happen. This is a professional learning resource guide for adults working with children in a variety of settings, including licensed child care centres, before and after school programs and child and family programs.

How does learning happen sets out a shared view of children as competent, capable, curious and rich in potential and includes goals for children, expectations for programs and questions for reflection to guide practice. It is organized around four foundations of belonging, well-being, engagement and expression. These foundations apply regardless of age, ability, culture, language, geography, or setting. They are conditions that children naturally seek for themselves.

Before and after school programs can offer programming and activities based on the needs of the community and participants in the program. This must include active play that is developmentally appropriate and can accommodate fitness levels and interests of students in alignment with How does learning happen principles.

Programs may also provide snacks, academic assistance, arts and cultural activities that promote inclusion, knowledge of other cultures or creative pursuits, and personal health and wellness education (for example, anti-bullying, body image, fostering resilience), among others. Related resources include Think feel act: lessons from research about young children and Think, feel, act: empowering children in the middle years.

Programs can be off school premises

School boards may offer these programs off school premises.

School boards should ensure that appropriate transitions (including transportation to the location, where applicable) are provided to support the safety and well-being of all children.

Travel time, for example pick-up, public transportation and walking, to and from an authorized recreational and skill building program is not counted towards the three hour program limit.

Schools can offer other recreation programs

School boards can also provide other programs. Many schools have programs which serve older children or are offered to meet the needs of a community. For example, there could be programs offered once a week such as tutoring programs, music lessons, or sport activities.

A before and after school program may not be required where there are existing programs and services meeting community demand. Existing programs and services should be considered as part of the criteria to determine sufficient demand and viability.

Requirements for before and after school programs can build on existing programs to help address unmet demand for before and after school programs.

Providers that offer multiple programs

We recognize that many community organizations, including municipalities, offer a range of programs and services.

In many communities, school boards work with one or more organizations that offer more than one support and/or services for students. For example, one provider might offer a nutrition program in the morning and a separate homework program after school. To operate without a licence, these programs must:

All before and after school programs (where one program offers both before and after school care) that care for more than five children must be either:

  • licensed child care
  • authorized recreation provider that has been approved by the Ministry of Education to offer extended hours of care
  • school board operated extended day program
Updated: August 06, 2021
Published: August 05, 2021