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The child care industry primarily consists of businesses that provide daycare services for infants and children. Your daycare can be a home-based operation, or it can be a commercial centre that serves a particular area or community. You can offer several different types of services; the choice of size, location and specific services will depend on you.
Some examples of daycare services include:
- Child care for older children (before and after school care)
- Unlicensed or licensed home-based daycare
- Licensed centre-based daycare
- Licensed child care agency
- Nanny services (work in home of employer as a live-in or live-out nanny)
- Early childhood education services
Caring for someone else's children involves a lot of responsibility and a serious commitment. When the children are in your custody you are responsible, by law, for their safety and well-being.
Some common licences, permits and regulations that may apply to starting your daycare include:
General child care licensing standards
Child care centres and some home-based daycares in Ontario are licensed by the Ministry of Education. You may plan to offer unlicensed home-based child care, however you will need a licence if you:
- Care for more than 3 children under the age of 2 (including your own children)
- Care for more than 5 children over the age of 2 (including your own children under the age of 6)
A licence is also needed for private home daycare agencies that contract individual caregivers who provide child care out of their own homes.
As a licensed and regulated home-based daycare provider, you need to meet provincial health, safety and caregiver training standards including:
- Caregivers must be over the age of 18
- Caregivers for special needs children must have valid first-aid certification
A home visitor will meet with licensed home-based daycare providers on a regular basis to conduct general inspections and provide support.
Additional licensing may be required if you want to care for children with a physical, visual or auditory disability, or if the child has a developmental, communication, behavioural or a chronic medical problem.
If you are planning to provide daycare or childcare services, you can confirm whether you need to be licensed by contacting the Ministry detailing your planned services.
Contact the Ministry of Education:
If you have questions about whether a child care licence is required for your program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
If you have general questions about licensing requirements or the process for applying, please call toll-free: 1-877-510-5333 or email email@example.com.
Types of child care
Home child care and unlicensed child care: how many children are allowed?
Operating a licensed child care program
Child care rules in Ontario
Before and after school programs: what parents and providers need to know
Day camps or summer camps
Day camps, or summer camps, are geared for school age children and offer activities in a community setting where the children return home in the evenings. Day camps are usually run by the week or by the month, in summers or during school breaks.
Under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, a day camp does not require 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 4 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.
Note: Day camps in Ontario serving children younger than 4 years of age do require a child care licence.
Consult the Ministry of Education's web page and fact sheet for more on day camps in Ontario:
If you plan on preparing or serving food as part of the daycare services you provide, the following food safety regulations may apply:
Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC)
If you are running a licensed daycare in Ontario you may be eligible to participate in the CWELCC system. Successful applicants will enter into a service agreement that outlines the amount of funding they will receive and guidelines they must follow to receive funding. The funding is provided to help you reduce your fees for parents.
Unlicensed child care providers are not eligible. This includes:
- unlicensed home child care providers
- authorized recreation programs
- school board-operated extended day programs
Contact the Ontario Ministry of Education:
Find your local service system manager
Canada-Ontario early years and child care agreement