Difference between a licensed and unlicensed daycare provider in Ontario
A licensed daycare provider is a childcare facility that cares for more than five unrelated children under the age of 10 and meets criteria listed in the Day Nurseries Act and is set out by the Provincial Government. The Day Nurseries Act is the legislation that regulates licensed child care in Ontario. The act sets out the requirements that a licensed child care operator has to meet in order to operate. These requirements help protect the health, safety and well-being of children.
There are several kinds of licensed childcare to choose from, which include home-based childcare, and centre-based childcare. Home-based child care is care provided by a contract individual hired by a licensed agency in their own homes. Centre-based care is care provided by larger facilities and may operate in various locations including schools and churches. Home care has a smaller group size than centre-based childcare. Home care providers can only care for five children in addition to their own children.
There are two types of licenses issued by the Ministry, a regular license and a provisional license and both may have terms and conditions for the childcare operator to follow. Some examples of terms and conditions that a childcare program may require to follow may include hours of operation (half-day programs or 10 month programs), non-compliance with playground safety standards, or not conducting monthly fire drills.
A regular license is issued when the child care program has met the licensing requirements of the Day Nurseries Act when last inspected. A regular license is issued for a period of one year and must be renewed after the next inspection. A provisional license is issued when a child care program has not met all the licensing requirements of the Day Nurseries Act when last inspected. When this happens, the program may be given a short period of time to meet the licensing requirements. If it meets the requirements at the time of the next licensing inspection, the program may be given a regular license. A provisional license will appear in yellow.
The Ministry can suspend a childcare's license if there is a threat to the health, safety or welfare of the children. When this happens, the childcare cannot operate until the operator complies with the "Notice of Direction" from the ministry and the daycare remains closed. If the operator complies with the "Notice of Direction", the suspension is removed and the daycare can re-open.
Unlicensed child care is private arrangements between parents and a caregiver. Sometimes this may be called informal child care. Caregivers who look after five or less children, who are unrelated, do not have to be licensed. Some examples of unlicensed child care may include a live-in nanny, a babysitter, or a friend or relative who cares for children in their own home. The Ministry does not regulate these caregivers and therefore your child's care does not have to meet provincial health and safety standards. Because there are no licencing requirements, it is even more important that you, as a parent, thorughly investigate the provider. You may wish to read our article on how to find the right daycare
which goes over some of the things you should be looking for and be aware of. Consider the Child Care Cost
, as private daycares generally tend to be less expensive than licensed daycare centers.