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Licensing: Standards, legislation and inspections

Licensing: Standards, legislation and inspections

In Ontario, anyone who cares for six or more unrelated children under the age of 10 must be licensed by the Ministry of Education. This includes home-based child care and centre-based child care.

Licensed child care programs must meet and maintain specific provincial standards set out in the Day Nurseries Act. These standards provide for the health, safety and developmental needs of the children.

At least once a year, staff of the Ministry of Education make unannounced inspections of all licensed child care programs to:

  • make sure that provincial standards are being met
  • issue and renew licences
  • investigate complaints
  • monitor operators who are having difficulty meeting licensing standards.

Licensing reports for all home-based and centre based licensed child care programs are available on the licensed child care finder.

What happens during the inspection of a child care centre?

The licensing inspector spends time in the program and interviews program staff to make sure the child care program meets the government's licensing standards:

  • Policies and procedures

  • Building and accommodation

  • Equipment and furnishings

  • Playground

  • Records

  • Staff and group size

  • Nutrition

  • Program activities

  • Health and medical supervision

What happens during the inspection of a private-home day care agency?

Staff of the Ministry of Education inspect private-home day care agencies to make sure they meet provincial standards in the following categories:

  • Policies and procedures

  • Behaviour Management Policy and Procedures

  • Records

  • Staff Qualifications and Numbers

  • Children Enrolled

  • Program

Private-home day care agency providers are not licensed directly. Instead, the ministry licenses private-home day care agencies. Licensed private-home day care agencies then contract individual caregivers who use their own homes to look after children. Caregivers are screened, approved and monitored by home visitors. These home visitors work for the home child care agency.

Completing the inspection checklist
The licensing inspector will complete a checklist that details each licensing standard. For each standard or requirement, the inspector will note if the program is in compliance on the date of inspection or not in compliance on the date of inspection.

After the inspection, the inspector reviews the checklist with the operator or supervisor and discusses any standards or requirements that the program did not meet. The inspector gives the operator up to 10 days to meet the requirements. The inspector updates the licensing report to note which requirements were met before the licence was issued.

Regular licence

A child care operator will be issued a regular licence once all requirements are met. A regular licence may be issued for a period of up to one year. Visit the licensed child care finder to see recent licensing inspections for local child care programs.

Provisional licence

A provisional licence is issued when a child care program has not met all the licensing requirements of the Day Nurseries Act. When this happens, the program may be given a short period of time to meet the licensing requirements. A provisional licence does not mean that the children are unsafe or that the program is about to close.

If, at any time, an inspection shows that there may be a threat to a child's health, safety or welfare, the ministry will take immediate steps to protect the well-being of the children in care. If a child's well-being is in danger, the ministry would be required to contact a Child Protection Agency. For an annual inspection, the licensing inspection summary would inspect based on building and accommodation; equipment and furnishings; health and medical; terms and condition; nutrition; playground; policies and procedures; program; records and staff.

The Ministry of Education can suspend a program's licence if there is a threat to the health, safety or welfare of the children. When this happens, the program must remain closed and cannot operate until the operator complies with the "Notice of Direction" from the ministry.