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Building Equipment and Playground

Compliance with Health and Safety Standards, Building Code, etc.

Before a licence for a child care center in the community is issued, the applicant must gather documentation to demonstrate that the child care premises comply with:

    • Public health laws for the municipality or the First Nation reserve.
    • Any rule, regulation, direction or order from the local Board of Health or the local Medical Officer of Health that may affect child care.
    • Any by-law under the municipality or band council on reserve or any other law about fire hazards.
    • Any building by-law from the municipality under the Planning Act and any by-law passed by the band council on reserve regulate the construction, repair or use of buildings.
    • Requirements of the Building Code under the Building Code Act, the Fire Code under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, and the
    • Safe Drinking Water Act, where applicable.

When a child care centre is located in a publicly funded school and serves children ages 4 and older, the centre will be considered as part of the school, and the building and accommodation standards and requirements that apply to the school will also apply to the child care centre. These providers are not required to provide additional documentation regarding requirements made through local bylaws regarding the construction, repair, or use of buildings and under the Building Code Act, Fire Protection and Prevention Act.

Counter space with sanitation materials and signage highlighted

REGULATION

Section 12 and 13 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 - General

CONNECTIONS TO HOW DOES LEARNING HAPPEN?

Children, families, and educators are comfortable, safe, and have a sense of over-all well-being when the environment is intentionally designed to meet health and safety requirements.

A safe and healthy environment supports children’s growing independence and ability to explore, tackle challenges safely and learn about the world around them.

Designated Spaces

Child care centres must have space allocated for:

  • Washing, dressing, and toileting
  • Storing toys, indoor play materials, and equipment
  • Storing food
  • Storing required records
  • Storing medical supplies, cleaning materials, and equipment and other hazardous substances
  • Heating and electrical equipment

Medical supplies, cleaning materials, equipment and other hazardous substances, and heating and electrical equipment must be inaccessible to children.

If the child care program runs for six hours or more in a day, it must also have space allocated for:

  • Eating and resting
  • Preparing food, if meals are prepared at the child care centre
  • Storing beds and linen
  • A staff rest area
  • Storing outdoor play equipment
  • Office area
  • Outdoor play

For child care centres located in a school serving children 4 years and older, the centre will be considered as part of the school, and the designated space standards and requirements that apply to the school will also apply to the child care centre.

Entry to child care room with storage space highlighted

REGULATION

Section 15 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 - General

CONNECTIONS TO HOW DOES LEARNING HAPPEN?

When designing the space consider:

How the environment provides comfort and meets children’s needs related to rest, play, and nutrition.

How the environment can support children’s self-care skills and growing independence to promote a sense of competence.

How the staff area can be not only a place for rest but also can support educators in reflection, collaboration and discussion.

For some examples of how to set up the environment in a way that reflects the key ideas of How Does Learning Happen?, see the research brief and video on “Learning Environment” in Think, Feel, Act: Lessons from Research about Young Children

Play Activity Space and Rooms

Every licensee must ensure the play activity space has at least 2.8 square meters of unobstructed floor space for each child in an infant, infant/toddler, toddler, preschool or family age group, and 2.58 square meters of unobstructed floor space for each child in a kindergarten, primary/junior school age or junior school age group.

Exceptions: Infant/Toddler Groups

With director approval, a space requirement of 2.33 square metres will be permitted with director approval where:

A licensee wishes to convert an existing infant or toddler room that was licensed under Schedule 1 prior to September 1, 2017, to an infant/toddler room under Schedule 2, provided there are no renovations to the space – with the exception of renovations to create a separate sleep area.

This exception will remain in place unless the space is renovated or the program is relocated, in which case the space requirement of 2.8 square metres would apply.

A space requirement of no less than 2.33 square metres per child will be permitted if the licensee submitted floor plans for the construction or renovation of a child care centre to the Director before June 1, 2016 and the floor plans were approved.

A space requirement of no less than 2.33 square metres per child will be permitted for school board projects where the child care centre is located in a school and:

    • Construction for an infant or toddler program was approved by the Ministry prior to June 1, 2016 under the Ministry’s policy memorandum 2015: B11 Capital Funding for New Construction of Child Care” (and policy memoranda 2015: B16, or
    • Construction for an infant or toddler program was included in a jointly approved plan submitted to the Ministry prior to June 1, 2016 under the Ministry’s policy memoranda “2012: EL3 Schools-First Child Care Capital Retrofit Policy”, “2012: EL4: Schools-First Child Care Capital Retrofit Policy – Funding and Implementation”, “2013: EY3 Schools-First Child Care Capital Retrofit Policy – Board by Board Allocations for 2013-14 and Policy Updates”.

Infant Room

There must be a separate play activity room based on the licensed capacity for each group of 10 infants under Schedule 1.

The play activity space must be at least 2.8 square metres (30 square feet) of unobstructed floor space for each child based on licensed capacity.

A sleeping area separated from the play activity space must be provided for every 10 infants or less based on licensed capacity.

Infant room with floor dimension highlighted

Infant/Toddler Room

There must be a separate play activity room based on the licensed capacity for each group of 12 infant/toddlers under Schedule 2.

The play activity space must be at least 2.8 square metres (30 square feet) of unobstructed floor space for each child based on licensed capacity. Unless exception applies (see above).

A separate sleep area is required for children in the infant/toddler group if there are children younger than 12 months and when the group requires cribs or cradles.

Two or more licensed infant/toddler groups may use the same sleeping area provided no more than 12 children sleep in the room at any time.

Toddler Room

There must be a separate play activity room based on the licensed capacity for each group of 15 toddlers under Schedule 1.

The play activity space must be at least 2.8 square metres (30 square feet) of unobstructed floor space for each child based on licensed capacity.

Toddler Room with floor dimension highlighted

Preschool Room

There must be a separate play activity room based on the licensed capacity for each group of 24 preschool children.

The play activity space must be at least 2.8 square metres of unobstructed floor space for each child based on licensed capacity.

Preschool Room with floor dimension highlighted

Kindergarten Room

There must be a separate play activity area based on the licensed capacity for each group of kindergarten children.

The play activity space must be at least 2.58 square metres (approximately 28 square feet) of unobstructed floor space for each child based on licensed capacity.

A ministry director may approve less than 2.58 square metres for a child care centre located in a school as long as the room or area is used by the school for children the same age as the licensed age group.

Kindergarten room  with floor dimension highlighted

Primary School age Room

There must be a separate play activity area based on the licensed capacity for each group of primary school age children unless otherwise approved by a ministry director.

The play activity space must be at least 2.58 square metres (approximately 28 square feet) of unobstructed floor space for each child based on licensed capacity.

A ministry director may approve less than 2.58 square metres for a child care centre located in a school as long as the room or area is used by the school for children the same age as the licensed age group.

School-age children often share space arrangements with community centres and schools. Where possible, such programs should include at least some exclusive-use space.

Primary school-age room with floor dimension highlighted

Junior School age Room

There must be a separate play activity area based on the licensed capacity for each group of junior school age children unless otherwise approved by a ministry director.

The play activity space must be at least 2.58 square metres (approximately 28 square feet) of unobstructed floor space for each child based on licensed capacity.

A ministry director may approve less than 2.58 square metres for a child care centre located in a school as long as the room or area is used by the school for children the same age as the licensed age group.

School-age children often share space arrangements with community centres and schools. Where possible, such programs should include at least some exclusive-use space.

Junior school-age room with floor dimension highlighted

Family age Room

There must be a separate play activity room for each family age grouping.

The play activity space must be at least 2.8 square metres (30 square feet) of unobstructed floor space for each child based on licensed capacity.

No separate play activity area is required to accommodate children of different ages. Licensees will need to ensure spaces are responsive to the safety and development of children enrolled.

A separate sleep area is required if there are children younger than 12 months of age and when the group requires cribs or cradles.

REGULATION

Section 16 and 17 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 – General

CONNECTIONS TO HOW DOES LEARNING HAPPEN?

Adequate play activity space helps to ensure there is flexibility for movement and opportunities for connections and relationships. Play activity areas provide rich environments and allow for investigation, exploration, and positive interaction.

When designing a play activity room, consider:

  • How can children and families be engaged in shaping the play activity room?
  • How can the space be arranged to allow children to make choices?
  • How can the space accommodate children’s varied needs for independent play, small group interactions, active and quiet experiences?
  • In groups where there are children of varied ages and abilities, consider types of materials that can be used in many different ways, for example, materials that encourage construction and exploratory questions like, “How does this feel?”; “How does this go together?” “What can I make with this?”

Play Materials, Equipment and Furnishings 

Play Materials

There must be enough play materials to serve the licensed capacity and enough variety so that play materials in active use can be rotated regularly.

Play materials must be available and accessible to the children throughout the day and be appropriate each child’s learning and development.

Play materials should allow the children to make choices and to encourage exploration, play, and inquiry by design.

All equipment must be maintained in a safe and clean condition as well as kept in a good state of repair.

Child care room with couch and bookshelf

Equipment and Furnishings

There must be a change table or counter space next to a sink suitable for dressing or changing the diaper of one child at a time in every licensed infant room, infant/toddler room, toddler room or family age room.

Every licensed preschool group in a Schedule 2 child care centre, must also have a space suitable for dressing or changing the diaper of 1 child at a time and access to a sink.

A cradle or crib is required for each infant in a Schedule 1 child care centre, and each child under 12 months in a licensed infant/toddler group or family age group.

Each child who is 12 months or older but younger than 24 months, and who receives care for six hours or more, needs a crib or cot that complies with any written instruction from the child’s parent, in a licensed infant/toddler group or family age group. There must be one cot for each child in a toddler group who receives care for six hours or more. Each child in a preschool group, as well as any child in a licensed family age group between 2 and 5 years old, and who receives care for six hours or more, needs a cot unless otherwise approved by a director.

Play materials, equipment, and furnishings must be in a safe and clean condition at all times.

There must be adequate storage available for all play materials.

Outdoor play equipment

REGULATION

Section 19 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 - General

SAMPLE FORMS

Infant Room Disinfecting Schedule

Toddler Room Disinfecting Schedule

Preschool Room Disinfecting Schedule

CONNECTIONS TO HOW DOES LEARNING HAPPEN?

Consider ways that How Does Learning Happen? can support decision-making in terms of the types of equipment, furnishings and play materials provided, for example:

  • How do the play materials and equipment demonstrate an understanding of each child as competent, capable of complex thinking, curious and rich in potential?
  • What possibilities for complex thinking and creativity are offered through the materials?
  • How can the space be arranged to foster positive interactions and collaboration among children?
  • How do the materials and equipment challenge children to take manageable risks that will foster a sense of competence and mastery?
  • Are the play materials and equipment accessible to children throughout the day?
  • Are the play materials and equipment provided appropriate to support the learning and development of each child in the room?

Consider ways to use diapering and washroom routines as a time for connecting with children, engaging in communication and responsive interaction.

First or Second Storey

In order to ensure safety and ease of access, each room used by infant, toddler, infant/toddler, preschool, kindergarten or family age groups, or for the use of by children with special needs, must be on or below the second storey, unless otherwise approved by a ministry director.

Entry door to childcare centre

REGULATION

Section 20 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 - General

Lighting, and Temperature 

Artificial illumination in each play activity room must have a level of at least 55 dekalux.

The temperature must be at least 20 degrees Celsius.

Child care window facing outside

REGULATION

Sections 21, 22 and 23 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 - General

CONNECTIONS TO HOW DOES LEARNING HAPPEN?

The window glass provides an opportunity for children to connect their indoor and outdoor worlds and exposes children to natural light.

Consider ways to support children as they develop connections and theories about what they observe and notice outside throughout the day and seasons.

The quality of the lighting and the temperature of the room help ensure children’s and educators’, well-being, health and comfort.

Outdoor Play Space 

For child care centres that operate for 6 hours or more a day, outdoor play space must be at least 5.6 square metres (60 square feet) for each child based on licensed capacity, unless otherwise approved by a ministry director.

A playground must be provided that is at ground level and next to the centre unless otherwise approved by a ministry director.

Outdoor play space must be designed so that the staff can maintain constant supervision of all the children.

Space must be designated for storage of outdoor play equipment.

Each fenced outdoor play space is limited to 64 children.

If the playground is used by infant, infant/toddler, toddler, preschool or family age groups the fence must have a minimum height of 1.2 metres (4 feet).

Fencing must be in good condition and it must not present any danger for children, e. g. no splintering, no rust, no sharp ends or edges. There should be no gaps between the fence and building structures to avoid injuries and form a safe boundary.

The playground must have one or more gates that are securely closed at all times, unless otherwise approved by a ministry director.

When a child care centre is located in a school and serves children 4 years and older, the centre will be considered as part of the school, and outdoor play space standards and requirements that apply to the school will also apply to the child care centre.

Every child care licensee shall ensure that any outdoor play space, fixed play structures and surfacing under those structures that is constructed or renovated on or after August 29, 2016 meets the requirements set out in the Canadian Standards Association standard CAN/CSA-Z614-14, “Children’s play spaces and equipment”.

Every child care licensee shall ensure that a playground safety policy is developed that reflects the Canadian Standards Association standard CAN/CSA-Z614-14, and indicates the roles and responsibilities of employees regarding safety on playgrounds. Licensees must also ensure that daily, monthly and annual inspections of the outdoor play space, fixed play structures and surfacing are conducted in accordance with the Canadian Standards Association standard CAN/CSA-Z614-14. Additionally licensees must ensure a plan is developed on how issues or problems identified in a playground inspection will be addressed and a playground repair log must be maintained.

Outdoor play space with tricycle

REGULATION

Section 24 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 - General

SAMPLE FORMS

Daily Playground Inspection

Monthly Playground Inspection

Playground Repair Log

Playground Injury Log

CONNECTIONS TO HOW DOES LEARNING HAPPEN?

Safe and stimulating outdoor spaces support children’s active exploration, play, and inquiry. When designing outdoor spaces, consider:

  • How can the outdoor space provide opportunities for complex exploration and inquiry?
  • How can the outdoor space support children’s connections with the natural world and to their community?
  • How can outdoor play space provide an appropriate amount of independence that reflects a view of children as competent and capable to foster children’s growing sense of competence and mastery?

Bodies of Water

In licensed home child care, no child under six years old can access any standing or recreational body of water on the premises. Children over the age of six in that home child care must have a lifeguard present who meets the requirements of the Health Protection and Promotion Act at all times if they are allowed access to a pool or body of water. The licensee must have written policies and procedures regarding children’s use of and access to the body of water.

REGULATION

Section 30.1 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 - General