Day camps: what parents and providers need to know
Learn about the rules for day camps and the penalties if camp providers don’t follow the rules.
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Day camps for children 4 years of age and older
In Ontario, day camps can operate without a child care licence if the program or service:
- operates for up to 13 weeks in a calendar year
- does not operate on school days
- does not operate in a person's home
- only cares for children who are four years or older – or, if the program is offered on or after September 1, for children who will turn four by the end of the calendar year
Day camps for children under 4 years of age
If a day camp wants to offer programming for children who are younger than 4, the camp needs a child care licence, or needs to follow the rules for unlicensed child care.
Unlicensed child care programs at day camps
A camp can offer a separate unlicensed child care program:
- for five or fewer children
- with no more than 3 children under the age of 2
- where children at the unlicensed child care program are separated from the older children enrolled in the day camp
The program for younger children is subject to the rules for unlicensed child care, including the requirement to inform parents and guardians in writing that they are not licensed. This notification must say “This child care program is not licensed by the Government of Ontario.” Providers must keep a copy on file for two years.
Licensed day camps
Day camps for more than 5 children who are younger than 4 years of age require a child care licence and must follow all of the rules set out in the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA) and its regulations for licensed child care.
Day camp providers can choose to obtain a child care licence for their day camp programs for older children, but this is not required under the CCEYA.
If a provider wants to operate a licensed child care program for children under the age of four and a day camp for older children, the two programs must be separate. They can share access to the same premises and facilities (for example, washrooms); however, the two groups of children cannot be combined or mixed and joint programming is not permitted (for example, large group games, lunch).
The Ministry of Education does not have a specific licence for day camps. Day camps that require a licence must apply for and achieve a licence to operate a child care centre, even if they call themselves a day camp.
Penalties if your day camp does not follow the rules
The child care legislation includes authority for a range of enforcement tools, including:
- compliance orders
- protection orders
- administrative penalties
- restraining orders
Failure to comply with the requirements under the CCEYA could result in an administrative penalty of a minimum of $2,000 per child over the maximum number of children permitted under the CCEYA in unlicensed child care. Failure to come into compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements during the application process could result in a program not being issued a licence.
In addition to financial penalties, we publish a list of child care providers (licensed and unlicensed) who have a confirmed violation under the CCEYA. This includes child care providers who have been issued a compliance order, administrative penalty, protection order, and/or have been convicted under the CCEYA.
A person convicted of an offence under the child care legislation is liable for a fine of not more than $250,000, imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both. A person convicted under the CCEYA is also prohibited from providing child care and operating premises where child care is provided.