Program for Children

Parent Handbook

A parent handbook must be available free of charge to any parent considering whether to enrol their child in the child care centre and/or any parent of a child who receives child care in the child care centre.

Anytime a revision is made to the parent handbook, parents with children receiving care must be notified.

The parent handbook must include the information about the following:

  • The services offered and the ages served
  • The times when the services are offered and the holidays observed
  • The fee for services and the admission and discharge policy
  • Activities off the premises
  • Requirements regarding supervision and policies and procedures for volunteers and students
  • A copy of the policies and procedures regarding how parents' issues and concerns will be addressed
  • A copy of the program statement
  • List of prohibited practices
  • For a child care centre, a statement that the centre has emergency management policies and procedures and information about how parents will be notified if an emergency occurs

Every licensee who establishes or maintains a waiting list must include a copy of related policies and procedures in the parent handbook.

Parent Issues or Concerns

Every licensee must ensure that there are written policies and procedures that set out how parents' issues and concerns will be addressed, including the steps for parents to follow when they have an issue or concern to bring forward to the licensee, the steps a licensee and its employees will use to respond, and when an initial response to the issue or concern will be provided.

Sample Form

Program Statement

Every child care centre must have a program statement that is consistent with the Minister of Education's policy statement. The Minister's policy statement names How Does Learning Happen? Ontario's Pedagogy for the Early Years as the guide for programming and pedagogy in licensed child care programs.

A Minister's policy statement is a statement made by the Minister under the authority of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 about child care and early years programs and services operations. The Minister's policy statement on programming and pedagogy is intended to strengthen programs and ensure high quality experiences that lead to positive outcomes for children in relation to learning, development, health and well-being.

How Does Learning Happen? promotes a shared understanding of children as competent, capable and rich in potential. It sets out broad goals for children and expectations for programs organized around the four foundations of belonging, well-being, engagement and expression. How Does Learning Happen? also describes pedagogical approaches to guide educators and administrators in considering how best to support children's learning and development.

The areas outlined in How Does Learning Happen? provide a starting point in developing a program statement. The ideas and approaches in HDLH are broad and can complement varied philosophies on which programs are based.

The licensee's program statement must include goals to guide programming and pedagogy and the approaches that will be implemented in the program to:

  • Promote the health, safety, nutrition and well-being of children;
  • Support positive and responsive interactions among the children, parents, child care providers and staff;
  • Encourage children to interact and communicate in a positive way and support their ability to self-regulate;
  • Foster children's exploration, play and inquiry;
  • Provide child initiated and adult-supported experiences;
  • Plan for and create a positive learning environment in which each child's learning and development will be supported;
  • Incorporate indoor and outdoor play, as well as active play, rest, and quiet time, into the day, and give consideration to the unique needs of the children receiving child care;
  • Foster the engagement of and ongoing communication with parents about the program and their children;
  • Involve local community partners and allow those partners to support the children, their families, and staff;
  • Support staff or others who interact with children in relation to continuous professional learning;
  • Document and review the impact of strategies on children and their families.

The requirements listed above are interrelated and overlapping. They can be considered holistically rather than as separate items. They are not intended to be used as a checklist but rather to support the development of the program statement and ongoing reflection and discussion in relation to all areas of the program.

For example, when setting up the environment, consider how your policies and practices protect children's health, safety and well-being; the ways the organization of the space and time allows children to make choices and fosters exploration, play and inquiry; and supports children's positive interactions and self-regulation; how parents are included; the ways the cultures, languages, social context of the community is integrated into the program; how you will document the impact of the environment on children, families and staff; and how your documentation will be used to plan and reflect on your programs considering children's interest and development.

The Ministry of Education has developed resources to support you in this journey.

See Think, Feel, Act: Lessons from Research about Young Children for research briefs and videos on topics such as pedagogical documentation, learning environments, brain development, pedagogical leadership, inclusion, parent engagement, and self-regulation.


Section 46 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 – General

Sample Form

Program requirements re activity, rest, sleep, outdoor play, etc.

Children in infant and toddler groups must be separated from other children during active indoor and outdoor play periods.

Each child who receives care for six hours or more in a day must spend at least two hours outdoors each day, weather permitting, unless a physician or parent of the child advises otherwise in writing.

When a program operates only before and after school:

  • Each child must spend at least 30 minutes outdoors each day, weather permitting, unless otherwise approved by a director or a physician or parent of the child advises otherwise in writing.

Every licensee must ensure that the program in each child care centre it operates is arranged so that,

  • Children in toddler and preschool groups who receive care for 6 hours or more in a day have a rest period of no more than 2 hours.
  • Children in toddler, preschool and kindergarten groups are allowed to sleep, rest, or engage in quiet activities based on a child's needs.

Every licensee must ensure that for each licensed family age group it operates is arranged so that,

  • Children 24 months or older but younger than 5 years who receive care for 6 or more hours a day have a rest period of no more than 2 hours.
  • Children 24 months or older but younger than 7 years are allowed to sleep, rest, or engage in quiet activities based on a child's needs.
  • The program and the play activity space reflect the safety and development needs of the children in the group.

Row of six infant cribs


Section 47 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 – General

Connections To How Does Learning Happen?

Consider ways to support children's sense of belonging, well-being, engagement and expression throughout daily routines:

  • How are you capitalizing on opportunities to build connections and positive relationships with children throughout every part of the day, from outdoor play to rest time?
  • How can you respond to the varied needs for sleep and rest of each child?
  • How can your program put more emphasis on outdoor exploration and play that engages the body, mind and senses?
  • How can you increase children's physical activity and decrease the amount of time spent in idle activities?

Policies and Procedures re Program for Children

Written policies and procedures must set out expectations for how child care providers and other staff, students or volunteers will implement the approaches in the program statement. They must also include the list of prohibited practices and set out measures to deal with a breach of the policies and procedures and any prohibited practice (i.e. use of corporal punishment, harsh or degrading measures, deprivation of basic needs, and confinement).

Filing cabinet with drawers section labelled general policies and procedures


Section 49 and 51 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 – General

Sample Form

Connections To How Does Learning Happen?

  • Consider how policies, procedures, and practices reflect and support the goals for children and expectations for programs described in How Does Learning Happen? What areas may need some rethinking? Why?
  • How do my policies and practices support children's interactions, communication, and self-regulation rather than focusing on adults managing children's behaviour?