Child Care and Children's Programs

Types of Child Care

Durham Region has a variety of child-care arrangements available to parents.

The options are:

It is important that you consider the selection available to you carefully, and choose the type of care that best meets the needs of both you and your child.

The following is a brief description of each program to help you in making your choice.

Nursery school / Playschools

A nursery school is a program that enrols children from ages two-and-a-half to five years of age, for a half day (two-and-a-half hours) on more than one day in a week. Nursery schools usually operate for 10 months of the year. The focus of nursery schools is to provide a learning environment where the emphasis is often placed on social skills and preschool development.

A nursery school must meet standards set by the “Child Care and Early Years Act” regarding staff/child ratios, program and staff qualifications, safety, behaviour management and nutrition. They must hold a valid license, in order to operate in the community. Subsidy is available through the municipality to those who are eligible.

Child-care centres

A child-care centre provides full-day and/or part-day child care, usually for all 12 months of the year. The hours of care and enrolment age of the children will vary depending upon each individual centre. Child-care centres are designed primarily to meet the needs of students and/or working parents. Provision of lunches and snacks are a part of this service. In a child-care setting, a preschool learning environment is encouraged, along with the opportunity for outdoor play, group activities, etc.

Like a nursery school, a child-care centre must meet standards set by the “Child Care and Early Years Act” regarding staff/child ratios, program and staff qualifications, safety, behaviour management and nutrition. They must hold a valid license, in order to operate in the community. Subsidy is available through the municipality to those who are eligible.

Licensed home child care

Home child care is the provision of care for no more than five children in a private residence. The Home Child Care Agency is licensed under the “Child Care and Early Years Act”. The homes are monitored by qualified home visitors who work with the providers to ensure the varied needs of the children are met. This program often proves to be more flexible in the hours of care available and in meeting the needs of children (newborn through school age). The caregivers or providers, as they are called, are screened and trained by the Home Child Care Agency. The homes are monitored on an ongoing basis, and government standards must be met and maintained. Subsidy is available through the municipality to those who are eligible.

Unlicensed or Informal child care

Unlicensed or Informal child care is provided by a relative, friend or neighbour, or by a private caregiver. There is no license required for this service, and there is no professional supervision. Legally, unlicensed caregivers are permitted to care for a maximum of five children. Subsidy is not usually available for this type of child care.

Ontario Early Years Centres

Ontario Early Years Centres programs are available for parents and preschoolers. They are held in a variety of settings and provide play opportunities for children and, often, organized group sessions for parents. Some programs also offer a toy-lending library service. Parents are expected to remain with their children when using these facilities. These facilities are not licensed.