Ontario Child Care

Dated: August 16 2023

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Ontario Child Care

Child care in Ontario: Types, cost, and tips for newcomers to Vaughan

Moving to Vaughan and starting a new life is exciting! If you’re a newcomer with kids, child care is probably at the top of your mind. The desire to balance cost, service quality, convenience, and availability can, at times, make finding an appropriate child care arrangement challenging, especially for newcomer parents.

In Ontario, options for child care are varied and range from nannies, daycare centres, home daycares, and preschool programs, to before and after school services. Child care services may be regulated or unregulated.

Regulated child care services; include centre-based full-day child care, home child care, school-aged child care, and in most provinces, nursery schools and preschools. These are monitored, licensed, and regulated by provincial and territorial authorities.

Unregulated child care services are provided either in a family child care home (a caregiver’s home) or in the child’s own home. If using this service, as a parent, it is your sole responsibility to assess the quality of child care provided, manage the relationship with the provider, and to find a new provider if there’s any issue with the arrangement.

Here’s a brief regulatory overview of some child care options.

Full-day child care centres

Unlicensed centres are illegal in Canada. However, in some regions, private schools, religious schools or others that include very young children may be exempt from licensing.

Part-day child care programs includes nursery and preschools

School-age child care programs

Some before and after-school programs, summer and holiday programs/camps for young school-aged children are not required to be licensed (including some that operate in school premises).

Kindergarten – offered by provinces/territories

In most provinces, kindergarten is part of the public school system and therefore, regulated by the provincial government.

Regulated family child care 

In several provinces, regulated family child care is “approved” rather than regulated. Most family child care is not regulated, monitored or approved. No province/territory requires all family child care homes to be regulated, so long as they don’t exceed the maximum number of children.

Unregulated family child care 

Home child care – provided in caregiver’s or child’s home and includes “nannies” or “sitters”)

Unregulated family child care providers do not need a license, aren’t inspected or monitored, and are not required to meet specified regulations for training, physical space or other features.

Budgeting and planning for child care costs

In Ontario, finding affordable child care can be a real challenge, primarily because of limited availability. Being aware of the costs and planning your finances accordingly is essential to settle in smoothly. 

Key definitions:

  • Infant: Children under two years of age.
  • Toddler: Children between 18 months to three years of age.
  • Preschool-age: Children between two-and-a-half years to kindergarten age (age four or five, depending on the province).

How much does child care cost

The average daycare costs in Ontario are around $70.00 a day up to $1,800 a month and it all depends on the province you move to.

Key highlights for child care costs

  • There are four provinces where at least half of the child care spaces are at a provincially-set fee: Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador. 
  • Infant, toddler, and preschool-age child care in Toronto is the most expensive, with a monthly median cost of $1,866, $1,578, and $1,250 CAD, respectively. 
  • Markham, Mississauga, Oakville, Richmond Hill and Vaughan, all cities in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) follow with the highest median fees for infant care. The cities with the lowest fees for infant care are in Quebec (Gatineau, Laval, Montreal, Longueuil, and Quebec City), where the median fee is the provincially-set fee of $181 CAD a month. 
  • Winnipeg is the next most affordable city – an infant space there is at a provincially-set fee of $651 CAD a month.

Child care waitlists and waitlist fees

In most cases, since the availability of child care spots is limited, many centres across the Ontario have a waitlist – which is usually very lengthy. Due to long waiting times, many families get on the waitlist even before the child is born. In many places, these waitlists may require parents to pay a fee (ranging between $50 to $200 CAD or higher) to have their child placed on the waitlist. Since each centre has its own list, parents may have to pay multiple waitlist fees while waiting for a spot to become available. 

Tips for planning for child care costs

  • Budget your expenses: List your monthly costs and have a fair estimate of your expenses. Use the Arrive cost of living calculator to plan your finances and be prepared.
  • Apply for grants: For families with children, the federal government offers a grant called the Canada Child Benefit (CCB). This grant provides a tax-free monthly payment to all eligible families living in Canada to assist with the cost of raising children under age 18. There is an additional grant for children who qualify for the disability credit.
  • Consider subsidies: Each province has different criteria, limits, and care options for child care subsidies. Reach out to your nearest newcomer settlement centre, and they will be able to guide you. 
  • Evaluate the cost of private care versus a full-time daycare: While both options are expensive, private care (e.g. hiring a nanny) may prove to be slightly more cost-effective if you have two or more kids. 

How to find a child care option that works for you

  • Start with your city’s website and the province’s Ministry of Education website (search for Child Care Services). Both websites will provide a list of licensed centres in your neighbourhood. For informal, unlicensed daycares, check community centre bulletin boards or talk to other parents or community leaders.
  • Consider the location (close to your home, work, or school) and take into account the days and times when you’ll need child care. Inquire about the hours of operation. 
  • Evaluate the environment – is it welcoming, safe, and child friendly? 
  • Inquire about the number of children they care for. 
  • Ask if the provider is licensed, regulated, and/or monitored by the government. Check their qualifications.
  • Check if the staff is trained in providing emergency first aid.
  • Confirm if they provide receipts for payments made. 
  • Ask about fees. 

Finding a child care option that works for your unique situation takes a lot of effort and demands financial readiness. Being aware of how the child care system works in Ontario and educating yourself about the available options and their costs will ensure you are well-prepared to find an option that’s a good match for you and your kids.

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Fiore Malatesta

About Passionate Realtor, Avid Investor, Loving Husband, and Father of 2 Beautiful Boys.
In today's market you need a passionate, Vaughan local advisor that can help you navigate the home buying and....

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