Start a child care program
Learn how to get a child care licence in Ontario, including how to apply, information on fees and required approvals.
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In Ontario, a licence is required for any child care program that provides care to more than five children younger than 13 years old.
Programs that do not need a child care licence include:
- nannies or babysitters that provide care to children from one family in the children’s home
- relatives that provide care for children
- camps that only care for children four years old and older
- programs with a primary purpose of academic study or skill-based recreation
- private schools that only care for children ages four years and older
Learn more about programs that may not need a licence.
The process to get a child care licence takes approximately four to six months, but this depends on the time it takes to:
- complete renovations
- incorporate a corporation
- obtain a police records check
- purchase equipment
- hire a supervisor and staff
- hire home visitors
- recruit home child care providers
- develop policies and procedures
- obtain all required approvals, such as fire and health approval
Apply for a child care licence
To apply for a child care licence, you will need to:
- register for the Child Care Licensing System (CCLS)
- submit your application and pay your non-refundable fee deposit through CCLS
- gather and submit any required supporting documents through CCLS, for example:
- policies and procedures
- relevant approvals
- floor plans
Learn how to register for CCLS.
Before you apply
Before you apply for a licence, you should:
- review the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA) and Ontario Regulation 137/15 to understand the licensing requirements
- review other resources, such as the:
- contact your First Nation or the local service system manager that is responsible for planning, managing and coordinating child care in your area to learn about:
- child care needs in your community
- opportunities to apply for funding
Note: You do not need to rent or own the child care centre location before applying. However, you must give an address for the proposed location when you apply.
After you apply
After you submit your application, a Ministry of Education program advisor will:
- review your application and supporting documents
- help answer specific questions regarding your application
- schedule a site inspection to check that you are in compliance with all requirements
If you withdraw your application, your initial fee deposit is non-refundable.
To open a child care centre or home child care agency, you must provide proof that the premises complies with:
- the laws affecting the health of residents of the municipality or of the reserve of a First Nation
- any rule, regulation, direction or order of the local board of health
- any direction or order of the local medical officer of health
- zoning and local by-laws
- the Building Code
- the Fire Code
- the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act
You may be able to operate a child care centre from your home if the:
- house has been zoned for child care and approved by the local fire department
- space meets all the requirements set out under the CCEYA, such as adequate outdoor play space
The application and renewal fees you will have to pay depend on how many children you want to provide care for or how many home child care premises you want to oversee. These fees are set out in regulation under the CCEYA.
The tables below show fees for:
- getting a new licence
- renewing a licence
- revising a licence
Child care centre fees
|Maximum number of children||Fee for a new licence||Fee for renewal of a licence||Licence revision fee|
|125 or more||$450||$230||$115|
Home child care agency fees
|Number of premises||Fee for a new licence||Fee for renewal of a licence||Licence revision fee|
|126 or more||$450||$230||$115|
Application review and results
A licence may be issued after you have met all licensing requirements. Before we issue you a licence, we will thoroughly review your application, including your:
- policies, procedures and other required documents
- proof of zoning for the proposed site
- request for director approval for a supervisor or home visitors
We will also conduct a site inspection of the proposed site to assess compliance with requirements before a licence is issued.
If your application is approved
Once a licence is issued, you may operate a licensed child care program according to the rules set out in the CCEYA and its regulations. You will be able to download your licence from CCLS. You must print and post your licence in a location that is clearly visible to parents and guardians at the child care centre or home child care agency head office.
You should also contact your First Nation or your local service system manager to notify them of your licence status.
If your application is not approved
If your application is not approved, we will notify you in writing. You may appeal this decision by requesting a hearing before the Licence Appeal Tribunal within 15 calendar days of receiving the notice of proposal refusing to issue the licence.
If you do not request a hearing, we will carry out the proposal and refuse to issue the licence.
Operating while your application is being processed
Before your licence is issued, you may operate as an unlicensed child care provider and provide care for a maximum of five children including:
- your own children under the age of four
- no more than three children under the age of two
This limit on the number of children applies regardless of how many adults are present at the home or centre. Unlicensed providers may not operate at multiple premises.
Learn about the rules for unlicensed child care providers.
Learn more about operating a child care program after you get your licence
- Learn more about specific requirements for child care centres
- Learn more about specific requirements for home child care
- Learn about the four foundations that are important for children’s wellbeing and healthy development
Additional resources to help you get started, such as sample policies, are available in the “Tools and Resources” section of the Child Care Licensing System.
The Ministry of Education does not provide in-person consultation if you have not submitted an application. If you have general questions about licensing requirements or the process for applying, please call
If you have questions about whether a child care licence is required for your program, please email email@example.com. In your email, include the following information about your program:
- description of the program, equipment and facilities
- hours of operation
- number of children served and their ages
- schedule of activities
- list of other programs offered
- if transportation to or from the program is offered