Operating child care and early years settings

All child care and early years settings must:

  • meet all operational requirements set out under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA) (for example, ensure that all existing staff to child ratios are maintained)
  • meet all enhanced health and safety requirements set out by the Ministry of Education and the local public health unit, where applicable
  • ensure staff are trained on all enhanced public health and safety protocols

Learn more about the rules and requirements for operating a child care program in Ontario.

How child care is operating

Licensed child care centres and licensed home-based child care services are open and must follow all public health and safety measures.

Camps that operate over the summer can open if they follow the safety guidelines (PDF).

Health and safety measures

Child care and early years providers must:

  • Create a covid 19 (coronavirus) response plan: All child care and early years settings must have a plan in place if a child, parent, staff member, volunteer, student on educational placement or child care provider is exposed to covid 19.
  • Practice physical distancing: Children and staff or providers must stay in group sizes outlined in the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 and should not mix with other groups of children.
  • Wear a mask and eye protection: All staff and providers, including volunteers and students on educational placement must wear medical masks inside a child care setting. Staff working in close contact with children who are not wearing masks must use eye protection. Children in Grades 1 and above must wear non-medical or cloth masks indoors. Children do not need to wear masks outdoors and physical distancing is strongly encouraged between groups outdoors.
  • Screen for symptoms: Everyone must screen for symptoms of covid 19 everyday before they enter the premises using the provincial screening tool or a screening tool designated by the local public health unit. Anyone experiencing a covid 19 symptom (not related a covid 19 vaccine) or feeling unwell must stay home. Home child care providers feeling unwell cannot offer service.
  • Log daily attendance: Child care and early years providers must keep daily records of everyone entering the premises to help support contact tracing.
  • Clean frequently: Child care and early years providers must thoroughly clean the space, toys and equipment frequently and regularly, according to public health advice. This includes following appropriate regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette (for example, covering your mouth and nose to cough).
  • Parents and visitors are allowed: Parents and visitors are allowed to enter the premises and must follow all health and safety protocols for screening, masking, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. The number of visitors indoors should be limited to ensure appropriate physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Create child care drop-off and pick-up protocols: Child care providers must establish drop-off and pick-up protocols that facilitate physical distancing.

Local public health units have the authority to proactively close child care and early years settings in their areas.

Speak to your provider if you have questions about their health and safety procedures.

Ontario intends to introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for all publicly-funded school board employees, and staff in private schools as well as for all staff in licensed child care settings for the 2021-22 school year, with rapid antigen testing requirements for staff who are not immunized against . Learn more.

Get child care

If you are a parent or guardian interested in accessing child care, contact a child care provider to get more details.

We recognize it may be difficult for some families to find child care. We will continue to work with partners to support access to child care.

Child care and early years providers and agencies

We depend on the authority and discretion of service system managers to:

  • plan, manage and coordinate child care within your region
  • make decisions about access to child care that best support the needs of your community

We have developed operational guidance to support the early years and child care sector on operating during the covid 19 pandemic:

If you're a child care or early years provider, you can call your local consolidated municipal service manager or district social services administration board for more information.


Updated: August 17, 2021
Published: July 08, 2021