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Child Care Licensing

This site is designed to support early years professionals and anyone who is interested in learning more about provincial requirements for licensed child care centres.

What is licensed child care?

Under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, child care means the following:

    • The provision of temporary care for a child less than 13 years of age, except when provided in an exempt circumstance.
    • The supervision of a child less than 13 years of age, except when providend in an exempt circumstance

Programs and services that are not considered child care can be found in the legislation and regulation. This includes camps that only care for children aged four and over, nannies or babysitters that provide care to children in the children’s home, care by relatives, private schools that only care for children ages four and over, and programs with a primary purpose of academic or skill-based recreation.

Licensed child care programs must meet and maintain specific provincial standards set out in the regulations. These standards provide for the health and safety, and quality experiences of children.

Licensed child care providers must have a program statement that is consistent with the Minister of Education’s Policy Statement, which sets out How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years as the document to guide programming and pedagogy. How Does Learning Happen? reflects the Province’s view of children as competent, capable, curious and rich in potential and provides a positive framework to support children and families.

Title: How Does  Learning Happen? document cover  - Description: How Does Learning Happen? Ontario's Pedagogy for the Early Years

What are child care centre licensees responsible for?

Licensees are responsible for managing each child care centre they operate, including the centre’s program, finances, and human resources. Every licensee must hire a supervisor for each child care centre to oversee the operations of the program.

How does the Ministry monitor licensed child care?

Staff at the Ministry of Education make unannounced inspections of all licensed child care programs to:

  • Make sure that provincial standards are being met,
  • Issue and renew licences,
  • Investigate complaints, and
  • Monitor licensees who are having difficulty meeting licensing standards.

A provisional licence may be issued when a child care program has not met all the licensing requirements of the regulations. When this happens, the program may be given a provisional license with a short period of time to meet the licensing requirements. A provisional licence does not mean that the children are unsafe or that the program is about to close.

A compliance order may be issued by the Ministry for any contravention of licensing standards. A compliance order is used to identify the failure of a licensee to comply with a particular provincial requirement and order that the non-compliance be corrected through either action or discontinuing a current practice. A protection order may be issued if Ministry staff identify an imminent threat to the health and safety of children. Summaries of protection orders and compliance orders will be posted online.

Licensing inspection summaries for all licensed child care programs are available on the licensed child care website.

This website does not address all the regulatory requirements under the Child Care and Early Years Act. For a complete understanding of provincial requirements, please see the legislation.