Ratios of Employees to Children, Age Grouping and Group Size (Child Care Centres)

Family Age Grouping

On September 1, 2017, an option for a new licensed age group-“family age grouping” (Schedule 4 under Ontario Regulation 137/15) for children 0–12 years came into effect for licensed child care centres. This new group allows children of different ages, whether or not from the same family, to be in the same group in the same play activity room. Schedule 4 may be used alongside one of the centre’s other age groups or, in a centre that has 15 or fewer children, as the only age category in the centre. Schedule 4 is an optional age group that centre’s must add to their license in order to operate under.

Ratios and maximum group sizes

The following applies to Schedule 1:

For every licensed age group, the licensee must ensure that children are placed in groups according to the age categories without exceeding the maximum number of children permitted in a group, or the ratio of employees to children, or the proportion of qualified employees for that group. Whether the children are on the premises or during activities off the premises, these requirements must be met unless otherwise approved by a director.

Reduced ratios

Reduced ratios can only be in effect when children are arriving, leaving or during the rest period. The reduced ratio cannot be less than two-thirds of the required ratio. Ratios cannot be reduced with infant groups or during outdoor play periods for any age group.

  • For programs that run for six hours or more in a day, ratios can only be reduced for up to ninety minutes after the program starts each day and no more than one hour before it ends.
  • For programs that run less than six hours in a day, ratios can only be reduced for up to half an hour after the program starts each day and up to half an hour before it ends.

If fewer than five full-time employees are required to meet the ratios, the supervisor may be counted as a full-time employee. If five or six full-time employees are required to meet the ratios, a full-time supervisor may be counted as a full-time employee for up to half the time a full-time employee is required to be on staff. If seven or more full-time employees are required to meet the ratios, the supervisor shall not be counted as an employee.

The following rules regarding the attendance of adults must be met:

  • Where fewer than six children who are not in a licensed infant group receive child care, there is at least one adult in attendance.
  • Where six or more children who are not in a licensed infant group receive child care, there are at least two adults in attendance.
  • Where fewer than four children in a licensed infant group receive child care, there is at least one adult in attendance.
  • Where four or more children in a licensed infant group receive child care, there are at least two adults in attendance.

These rules do not apply with respect to children in licensed family age groups (see Family Age Grouping section).

Schedule 1 Ratios of Employees to Children and Group Size

Outdoor Play

During outdoor play, standard staff/child ratios apply.

Ratios cannot be reduced during outdoor play periods at any time.

During active outdoor play, children in infant and toddler groups are separated from other children.

Outdoor playground with staff and child highlighted

A ministry director may give approval for a child care centre to use mixed-age grouping for any licensed age group set out in Schedule 1.

Infant Play Activity Room

Place children in groups according to age as set out in Schedule 1.

Staff/child ratios cannot be reduced for groupings of infants at any time.

Infant room with staff and child highlighted

Toddler Play Activity Room

Place children in groups according to age as set out in Schedule 1.

A ministry director may approve mixed age grouping provided that:

  • When more than 20 per cent of children are from the younger age group, the ratio of employees to children and the group size required for the youngest child is used.

During periods of arrival, departure and rest, the staff/child ratio may be reduced to 2/3 of the required ratio.

Toddler room with staff and child highlighted

Preschool Play Activity Room

Place children in groups according to age as set out in Schedule 1.

A ministry director may approve mixed age grouping provided that:

  • When more than 20 per cent of children are from the younger age group, the ratio of employees to children and the group size required for the youngest child is used.

During periods of arrival, departure and rest, the staff/child ratio may be reduced to 2/3 of the required ratio.

Preschool Room with staff and child highlighted

Kindergarten Play Area

Place children in groups according to age as set out in Schedule 1.

A ministry director may approve mixed age grouping provided that:

  • When no more than 25 per cent of the children are three years old, or if the child care is provided on or after the first day of school in a calendar year, will attain the age of three in that year, and all other children are kindergarten children, then the requirements set out in schedule 1 for kindergarten children apply.
  • When more than 25 per cent of children are from a younger age category, the ratio of employees to children and the group size required for the youngest child is used.

During periods of arrival, departure and rest, the staff/child ratio may be reduced to 2/3 of the required ratio.

Kindergarten Room with staff and child highlighted

Primary School-age Play Area

Place children in groups according to age as set out in Schedule 1.

A ministry director may approve mixed age grouping provided that:

  • When no more than 25 per cent of children are kindergarten children, and all other children are primary/junior school age children, the ratio of employees to children and the group size required for the primary/junior school age group is used.
  • When more than 25 per cent of children are from a younger age category, the requirements set out in Schedule 1 for the youngest child in the group apply.

During periods of arrival, departure and rest, the staff/child ratio may be reduced to 2/3 of the required ratio.

Primary school-age room with staff and child highlighted

Junior School-age Play Area

Place children in groups according to age as set out in Schedule 1.

A ministry director may approve mixed age grouping provided that:

  • When no more than 25 per cent of children are 68 months or older but younger than nine years, and all other children are junior school age children, the ratio of employees to children and the group size required for the junior school age group is used.
  • When more than 25 per cent of children are from a younger age category, the requirements set out in Schedule 1 for the youngest child in the group apply.

During periods of arrival, departure and rest, the staff/child ratio may be reduced to 2/3 of the required ratio.

Junior school-age room with staff and child highlighted

Regulation

Sections 7 & 8 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 – General

Connections To How Does Learning Happen?

Grouping children within similar age ranges allows educators to create environments and experiences that are responsive to children's development. Children can interact with others in play, explore ideas and investigate their theories about the world around them. Educators can establish positive responsive relationships with children and their families.

Consider the following questions:

  • How do I know that the environment I am providing for this age group is encouraging the children's sense of inquiry, curiosity, and exploration?
  • How do adults act as co-learners with children in this age group to foster their understanding of the world around them?
  • Recognizing the diverse abilities, experiences and dispositions of children within this age grouping, how can we support all children to feel fully included?

Schedule 4 Ratios of Employees to Children and Group Size

Outdoor Play

During outdoor play, standard staff/child ratios apply.

Ratios cannot be reduced during outdoor play periods at any time.

Outdoor playground with staff and child highlighted

Family Age Grouping

Place children as set out in Schedule 4 and as described in section 8.1 of the regulations.

The family age group can have up to a maximum of 15 children; and no more than 6 children under 2 years of age.

Licensees must ensure that the number and qualifications of employees who provide child care to a licensed family age group are met, whether children are on the premises or during activities off the premises.

  • Classify each child according to his or her age category, as set out in Schedule 4.
  • Determine the total number of children in each age category.
  • For each age category, multiply the number of children in the age category by the ratio set out in Column 2 of Schedule 4 opposite the age category, expressed as a decimal.
  • Find the total of the numbers for all age categories.
  • Round the number up to the nearest whole number.
  • This is the minimum number of employees required to provide child care to the group, unless any of the following applies:
    • If there are more than 6 children, there must be at least 2 employees
    • If there are more than 10 children and 1 or more children are younger than 12 months, there must be at least 3 employees
    • If there are 6 or fewer children, and no more than 2 children are younger than 24 months, only 1 employee is required
  • If 2 or less staff are required, 1 must be a qualified professional. If 3 or more staff are required, 2 must be qualified professionals.
  • For kindergarten and school-age children, additional staff are only needed when these children are attending the program.

Formula for calculating staffing (calculations resulting in a decimal must be rounded up to the next whole number)

Total number of children
per age range
Multiplied by weighting
per child
Number of Staff Required
Enter number of children younger than 12 months Multiply by 0.33 Number of staff
Enter number of children 12 months or older but younger than 24 months Multiply by 0.25 Number of staff
Enter number of children 24 months or older but younger than 13 years Multiply by 0.13 Number of staff
Total number of children   Total number of staff

The formula is to be used in conjunction with the additional requirements listed above.

The staff/child ratio cannot be reduced for family age groups at any time.

Infant room with staff and child highlighted

Regulation

Section 8.1 of Ontario Regulation 137/15 – General

Connections To How Does Learning Happen?

Family age groups play an important role in supporting the unique and diverse child care needs of various cultural and linguistic communities and allow families to keep siblings of different ages together.

There are many benefits to children interacting in multi-age groupings. Educators can encourage relationships and interactions between children of different ages. Older children have opportunities to mentor, assist and show empathy for younger children, building their own sense of competence and leadership. Younger children can learn from older peers as role models and supports in fostering complex play, creative thinking and problem-solving.

Consider the following questions:

  • In recognizing that children develop and learn at different paces, how do I know that the environment I am providing is encouraging opportunities to consider varied abilities and interests?
  • How do adults act as co-learners with children to foster their understanding of the world around them?
  • Recognizing the diverse abilities, experiences and dispositions of children within this age grouping, how can we support all children to feel fully included?

Mixed-age groups

Mixed-age groupings remain the same for the infant, toddler, preschool, and primary/junior school age under Schedule 1.