Child Care Overview
In Ontario, child care is governed by provincial legislation called the Day Nurseries Act. According to the Act, anyone providing care regularly for more than five children, who are not of common parentage, must be licensed under the Act. If care is provided on a premises for five or fewer children, it is not required to be licensed or to meet any of the regulations of the Act. There are some regulations in the Day Nurseries Act which apply to the provision of care for children with special needs.
Fees for services, whether in licensed programmes or in the independent sector are usually the responsibility of the user. Assistance with fees through child care subsidy is available for families that meet financial and other criteria.
You can obtain personal assistance and information related to your search for child care by contacting Child Care Information Hamilton . It is also recommended that you review the section of this site which contains information on how to choose child care.
Two kinds of licensed child care services exist in Ontario.
Centre-based programs are licensed for groups of children who may range in age from infancy to twelve years. Each centre is licensed to care for a specific number of children based on physical space and allowable group sizes. As a result, licensed capacity varies from centre to centre. The Day Nurseries Act sets out minimum acceptable standards. Licensed centres are inspected to ensure compliance with these standards including staff requirements. Fees and policies in areas not governed by the Act are determined by the individual centre owner or governing body.
The second type of licensed care, home-based child care, is provided in the home of a caregiver who is registered and approved by a licensed home child care agency. The agency administers the service and supervises the home caregiver. Qualified staff from the home child care agency, with training in early childhood education, routinely inspect the homes of caregivers who are registered with the agency. This monitoring and the licensing process ensures that the requirements of the Day Nurseries Act are being met. As in centre-based care, fees and policies not covered by the Act are determined by the individual agency.
Unlicensed or Independent Child Care
In some communities, a registry of home child care providers is available. Caregivers on a registry have chosen to provide information about their service to a central database which can be accessed by parents or others. Registries are not governed by legislation. Each registry establishes its own policies and procedures. In some cases, caregivers must meet standards established by the registry administration. When using a registry to find a caregiver, it is important to identify the criteria for registration and to understand that care arrangements are a private matter between the parent and caregiver.
Every community also has independent caregivers who provide home-based services "independently". That is, they are not required to be licensed and they have not chosen to be listed on a registry. Parents often access these caregivers through newspaper advertisements, community bulletin boards, word of mouth or by referral from friends or relatives. Arrangements for this kind of care are negotiated privately between the caregiver and the parent.
In addition to home-based child care, parents often access other services for their children which meet some of their child care needs. These services are not governed by the Day Nurseries Act and can include: recreation programs, clubs and after-school activities, nanny services, care in your home, and summer camps.
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