Types of Child Day Care in Ontario

The last few decades have seen a steady increase in the need for childcare in Canada. An increasing amount of women in the workforce, the need for dual income households, combined with a desire to socialize and educate children before they enter school has contributed to this demand. In fact, Stats Canada reports almost half of Canadian parents use child care, with more than half of those parents relying on these services for children four and under.

Predictably, this need for care has lead to an increase in child care providers, but the influx doesn’t make deciding which type of provider will be best for you and your family easy.

In Ontario, there are four distinct types of child care, and many parents don’t fully grasp the differences between them. That’s why we’re going to help explain your options to you here.

Types of Child Care in Ontario

1) Licenced Child Care Centre

These child care facilities can include full-day care, extended hours care, nursery schools as well as before and after school care. They can operate in many different spaces, including schools, community centres, places of worship and workplaces.

Currently, there are 5,069 licensed centres in Ontario, with 317,868 spots for children ranging from infancy to school-aged.


:: Regulatedby government; centres are held to a standard

:: Inspected at least once a year by Ministry of Education

:: Staff includes professionals trained in early childhood education

:: Kids are placed with kids their own age

:: Activities are designed with child’s abilities in mind

:: Child care fee subsidies are sometimes available

:: Can use child care receipts for income tax credit


:: Often not flexible in terms of schedule: if you have scheduled care for certain days of the week only, that is the only day the provider has a spot for your child

:: Can be more expensive than other options

:: You have to pay for days your child is scheduled to be there, even if s/he is away or sick

2) Licensed Home Child Care

While not licensed by the Ministry of Education, home child care providers are contracted by home health care agencies that are licenced by the Ministry.

These providers care for children ages infant to school age, and may provide full-day, part-day, and/or before and after school care, depending on what the specific caregiver offers.


:: Regulated by the government; homes and caregivers held to a standard

:: Children not separated based on age; allows siblings to be together

:: Small groups

:: Caregivers given support and enrichment opportunities through agencies

:: Subsidies for child care may be available

:: Caregiver may be flexible in terms of schedule, allowing you to vary the days and times your child is with them

:: Caregiver may not require you to pay for days your child was scheduled to be there if s/he is sick or away

:: Can use childcare receipts for income tax credit


:: Can be more expensive than other options

:: Caregiver may not have a scheduled curriculum for children, so may not be suitable if a child is in care with an intention of obtaining a pre-school education

3) Before and After School Care for Schools with All-Day Kindergarten

When there’s enough interest, schools that have full-day kindergarten will often offer before and after school care. These programs are designed to fit within the framework of the school day, providing a combination of guided independent exploration, downtime and play.

Sometimes school boards will directly provide these programs, and sometimes it will be offered by a licensed third-party that works within the school setting. The majority of the programs are licenced.


:: Compliments the school day activities

:: Does not necessitate for the child to be transferred to another place of care

:: Allows for further learning opportunities
:: Subsidies available if program is offered by licensed school board

:: Can use childcare receipts for income tax credit


:: While run in the schools, which are government funded, these programs are not

:: Subsidies not available if program is not licensed

4) Unlicensed Child Care

Unlicensed child care providers offer full-day, part-time and/or before and after school care for children from infancy to school age, depending on the what the specific caregiver offers.

This informal care is not licensed, regulated or monitored by the government or any government regulated agency. It is, however, subject to laws, including the law that states that unlicenced child care providers are not allowed to care for more than five children under the age of six, including their own children. Unlicensed caregivers are also not permitted to operate out of more than one location. Parents or concerned parties can report violations and see if their caregiver has any violations against by contacting the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

The law stipulating the amount of children allowed under the care of an unlicensed provider depend on how many adults are home, so if there is another adult, more children are allowed.

While informal and unlicensed, this sort of childcare is the second most popular form in Ontario, falling just behind daycare centres.


:: Caregiver are often flexible in terms of schedule, allowing you to vary the days and times your child is with them

:: Caregiver may not require you to pay for days your child was scheduled to be there if s/he is sick or away

:: Siblings can be together

:: Often less expensive than other types of childcare

:: Caregivers are sometimes family and/or family friends, so child feels comfortable with provider


:: Not regulated by the government or any agency

:: Homes and caregivers not held to any standard

:: No subsidies available

:: Cannot use childcare receipts for income tax credit

As if being a parent wasn’t tough enough…

It’s a lot to consider, but any parent who is happy with their child care provider will tell you that the success of their arrangement really boils down to their picking what was right for them and their kids. This means they selected a type of child care that worked with their schedule, fit into their budget, complimented their children’s personalities as well as their own objectives for the children’s time spent in care, and most of all, was a place they consider safe to entrust their most precious treasures.

Hollay Ghadery

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