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Program for Children

Parent Handbook

A parent handbook must be available to any parent considering whether to enrol their child in the child care centre and/or any parent of a child who receives child care in the child care centre.

Anytime a revision is made to the parent handbook, parents with children receiving care must be notified.

The parent handbook must include the following information:

  • Requirements regarding supervision and policies and procedures for volunteers and students
  • The services offered and the ages served
  • The times when the services are offered and the holidays observed
  • The fee for services and the admission and discharge policy
  • Activities off the premises
  • A copy of the program statement
  • List of prohibited practices

Every licensee that establishes or maintains a waiting list must include a copy of related policies and procedures in the parent handbook.

Program Statement

Every child care centre must have a program statement that is consistent with the Minister of Education’s policy statement. The Minister’s policy statement names How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years as the document to be used for the purpose of guiding programming and pedagogy in licensed child care programs.

A Minister’s policy statement is a statement made by the Minister under the authority of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 relating to the operation of child care and early years programs and services and related matters. The Minister’s policy statement on programming and pedagogy is intended to strengthen programs and ensure high quality experiences that lead to positive outcomes for children in relation to learning, development, health and well-being.

How Does Learning Happen? promotes a shared understanding of children as competent, capable and rich in potential. It sets out broad goals for children and expectations for programs organized around the four foundations of belonging, well-being, engagement and expression. How Does Learning Happen? also describes pedagogical approaches to guide educators and administrators in considering how best to support children’s learning and development.

The areas outlined in How Does Learning Happen? provide a starting point in developing a program statement. The ideas and approaches in HDLH are broad and can complement and be used together with varied philosophies on which programs are based.

The licensee’s program statement must include goals to guide programming and pedagogy and the approaches that will be implemented in the program to:

  • Promote the health, safety, nutrition and well-being of children;
  • Support positive and responsive interactions among the children, parents, child care providers and staff;
  • Encourage children to interact and communicate in a positive way and support their ability to self-regulate;
  • Foster children’s exploration, play and inquiry;
  • Provide child initiated and adult-supported experiences;
  • Plan for and create a positive learning environment in which each child’s learning and development will be supported;
  • Incorporate indoor and outdoor play, as well as active play, rest, and quiet time, into the day, and give consideration to the unique needs of the children receiving child care;
  • Foster the engagement of and ongoing communication with parents about the program and their children;
  • Involve local community partners and allow those partners to support the children, their families, and staff;
  • Support staff or others who interact with children in relation to continuous professional learning;
  • Document and review the impact of strategies on children and their families.

The requirements listed above are interrelated and overlapping. They can be considered holistically rather than as separate items. They are not intended to be used as a checklist but rather support development of the program statement and ongoing reflection and discussion in relation to all areas of the program.

For example, when setting up the environment, consider how your policies and practices protect children’s health, safety and well-being; the ways the organization of the space and time allows children to make choices and fosters exploration, play and inquiry; and supports children’s positive interactions and self-regulation; how parents are included; the ways the cultures, languages, social context of the community is integrated into the program; how you will document the impact of the environment on children, families and staff; and how your documentation will be used to plan and reflect on your programs considering children’s interest and development.

The Ministry of Education has developed resources to support you in this journey.

See Think, Feel, Act: Lessons from Research about Young Children for research briefs and videos on topics such as pedagogical documentation, learning environments, brain development, pedagogical leadership, inclusion, parent engagement, and self-regulation.


Section 45 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 - General

Program requirements re activity, rest, sleep, outdoor play, etc.

Infants and toddlers must be separated from other children during active indoor and outdoor play periods.

When a program runs for six hours or more:

  • Each child must spend at least two hours outdoors each day, weather permitting, unless a physician or parent of the child advises otherwise in writing.
  • Children in toddler and preschool groups must have a rest period of no more than two hours.
  • Children in toddler, preschool and kindergarten groups are allowed to sleep, rest, or engage in quiet activities based on a child’s needs.

When a program operates only before and after school:

  • Each child must spend at least 30 minutes outdoors each day, weather permitting, unless otherwise approved by a director or a physician or parent of the child advises otherwise in writing.

Row of six infant cribs


Section 47 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 - General


Consider ways to support children’s sense of belonging, well-being, engagement and expression throughout daily routines:

  • How are you capitalizing on opportunities to build connections and positive relationships with children throughout every part of the day, from outdoor play to rest time?
  • How can you respond to the varied needs for sleep and rest of each child?
  • How can your program put more emphasis on outdoor exploration and play that engages the body, mind and senses?
  • How can you increase children’s physical activity and decrease the amount of time spent in idle activities?

Policies and Procedures re Program for Children

Written policies and procedures must be established with respect to the expectations for how child care providers and other staff or volunteers are to implement the approaches specified in the program statement and must include measures to deal with a contravention of the policies and procedures and any occurrence of prohibited practices (i.e. use of corporal punishment, harsh or degrading measures, deprivation of basic needs, and confinement).

A written process is to be established for monitoring the approaches set out in the program statement, as well as any occurrences of prohibited practices, on an ongoing basis.

Filing cabinet with drawers section labelled general policies and procedures


Section 49 and 51 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 – General


    • Consider how policies, procedures, and practices reflect and support the goals for children and expectations for programs described in How Does Learning Happen? What areas may need some rethinking? Why?

    • How do my policies and practices support children’s interactions, communication, and self-regulation rather than focusing on adults managing children’s behaviour?