What Kinds of Child Care are Available in Ontario?

In Ontario, there are three basic types of child care.

  • Licensed child care centres (or daycare) are facilities where children from different families are cared for together by qualified staff.
  • Licensed home care is child care provided in a caregiver's home, which is supervised by a licensed agency.
  • Unlicensed child care is child care provided by a caregiver in their home or in the parents' home. The caregiver is selected and supervised by the parent.


In Ontario, all child care centres must be licenced. The Ontario Ministry of Education provides and enforces the licence under provincial legislation called the Day Nurseries Act.

The Act regulates issues such as:

  • Staff qualifications
  • Child to staff ratios
  • Physical space
  • Health and safety
  • Nutrition

Home child care may also be licenced (regulated) in certain situations. Licenced home care means that the caregiver has specific qualifications and is supervised by a home child care agency; this includes the number of children in their care. According to the Act, anyone regularly providing care for more than five children (including their own children under the age of 6) must be licensed.

Home child care with less than five children may or may not be licensed. Licensing only ensures the fulfillment of minimum standards. Whether or not you choose licensed child care, it is very important that you continue to monitor the quality of your choice in child care.

For More Information

  • Introducing Your Child to Child Care - A fact sheet providing tips on how to help your child adjust to child care. From the Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services.
  • Supervision Guidelines – This page contains information about leaving your child home alone and if your child is old enough to babysit. From Durham Children’s Aid Society.
  • Licensed Child Care Directory - Licensed alternatives to family care including child care centres, nursery schools and school age programs. From the Ministry of Education.
  • Types of Child Care – Information about the types of child care available in Ontario. From the Ministry of Education.
Last updated: April 6, 2016 4006025