Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario (ADCO) Defence Lawyers

Child care/day care operators, like many other professionals in Canada, must be adequately educated, licensed and regulated by the province in which they practice. Each province will regulate their professionals in their own way.

The Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario (ADCO) is an association that regulates licensed  commercial and not-for profit child care programs in Ontario. Members of  ADCO include: licensed health care centres, home child care agencies, Montessori Schools, nursery schools, preschools, private schools and other school-age programs. Each child care and/or day care centre is run independently, mostly as small businesses or as not-for-profit organizations by churches, temples, neighbourhoods or indigenous groups. Membership with ADCO is voluntary and is not a prerequisite for running a child care/day care facility in Ontario.

Licensed child care, day care and home child care facilities must be approved by the Ministry of Education and must abide by, and follow the standards set out in the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014. The Ministry of Education also has the authority to inspect the child care/day care facilities annually to ensure that relevant guidelines and standards are being followed.

All child care and day care centres in Ontario are subject to the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 and the regulations made under it. The Act consists of 8 major portions, including protective measures, licensing, inspections and enforcement, among others. Because each facility is operated independently, different facilities may have their own specific set of rules or practices to follow.

All facilities must also abide by the minimum requirements set out in Regulation 137/15 of the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014. Regulation 137/15 dictates: student to staff ratio, requirements for designated activity and play spaces, health and safety standards, health and medical supervision requirements, nutrition standards, staff qualifications, emergency procedures, that materials for play are accessible, that there are enough in quantity to be shared and are appropriate and are able to promote learning and development, etc.

Legal Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Establishing a Child Care/Day Care Facility
What Child Care/Day Care Operators Should Provide to Parents
What Parents Should Know
Prohibited Practices in Child Care/Day Care Facilities
Children With Special Needs
Regulated vs. Unregulated Child Care
Safety and Cleanliness in Child Care/Day Care Facilities
What Qualifications are Needed to Work in a Licensed Child Care Facilitiy?
Child Care/Day Care Operator’s Duty to Obtain Record Checks
Child Care/Day Care Facilities During Covid-19

Establishing a Child Care/Day Care Facility

To launch a child care/day care facility, one may start from scratch, or purchase an existing licensed facility.

After choosing a location, the applicant must ensure that the area in which the facility will be located is zoned for day care, apply for a license on the Ministry of Education’s online system, and pay the required fees. Following the application,  a program advisor from the Ministry of Education may conduct a site visit to the prospective location to determine whether or not the premises are suitable for a child care facility. The facility must also be inspected by the Building, Fire and Health Departments to ensure compliance and safety. Other procedures that must be followed before a license may be granted include: submitting written approval from the Zoning, Building, Fire and Health Departments, hiring qualified staff and submitting records of qualifications, equipping the facility and submitting a list of inventory, submitting a proposed time table, incorporation papers, list of board members/officers (if any), proposed admissions and medical forms, mission statement, schedule, scope of services, intended age range, daily programs/schedules of activity and educational goals.

What Child Care/Day Care Operators Should Provide to Parents

Childcare/day care operators should provide parents with a handbook containing information about the services that the facility offers, the facility’s hours, fees, etc. Parents should also be provided with written policies and procedures that will be followed in the case that they have any concerns or complaints regarding the facility, in order to be able to have the issues addressed and have an idea of how they will be dealt with.

What Parents Should Know

Child cares and day cares that are licensed by the Ministry of Education will be listed on the Ministry’ website. If there are any concerns regarding the child care provider, whether it is run within a home setting or within a child care centre, these concerns should be relayed to the Ministry of Education Child Care Quality Assurance and Licensing Office. A licensed caregiver is usually associated with a licensed child care operator and facility. Thus, payment for childcare services is typically given directly to the facility rather than the caregiver themself. If the caregiver requests for cash or a cheque to be made out to them directly, this is an likely indicator that they are not licensed with the Ministry of Education.

Prohibited Practices in Child Care/Day Care Facilities

  • Any form of corporal punishment
  • Physically restraining a child for the purpose of punishing the child, or as a replacement for supervision.
    • Physical restraint will be allowed where it is for the purpose of preventing the child from injuring themselves or others. However, this must only be used after all other means have been exhausted, and only if the risk of injury is imminent
  • Locking the doors/exits of the facility for the purpose of confining a child – unless in the face of emergency and is a part of standard procedure
  • Using inappropriate language to verbally abuse a child
  • Depriving a child of food, water, washroom, clothing, and other basic needs
  • Physically abusing a child or forcing them to drink or eat against their will

Children With Special Needs 

When caring for children with special needs, child care/day care operators should create personalized support plans for the child. This plan should include an introduction of how the facility will support the child and help them to participate meaningfully in the facility’s activities and a description of any forms of support, aid, modifications to the curriculum or other activities that will be offered/made to accommodate the child’s needs. This plan should be made with the advice of the parent and the child (if the child is of appropriate age) and any other health professional who has worked with the child.

Regulated vs Unregulated Child Care

Child care/day care facilities that are licensed by the Ministry of Education must follow government regulations regarding staff qualifications, children to staff ratio, hygiene and cleanliness standards for the facility, behaviour management, and more. Caregivers who are not licensed by the Ministry of Education, in turn, are not bound by such regulations. Licensed child care/day care facilities may operate on a smaller scale, allowing children to form relationships with their caregivers, provide meals for children, offer extended hours, have staff on board  who are trained in the profession, and offer facilities, activities and education that are able to promote childhood development. Choosing between licensed and unlicensed caregivers depends on the parent’s own preference for what is best for their child.  Please note, an individual who is not licensed by the Ministry of Education may not hold out, either expressly or implicitly, as being a licensed caregiver.

Safety and Cleanliness in Child Care/Day Care Facilities

The physical environment under which children are receiving care should always be safe and clean. Facility operators must always ensure that children are not put at risk and make sure that the facility meets the following standards: a proper operating license, all staff are trained in first aid and CPR, a first aid kit is easily assessable, fire exits are marked, escape routes are clear, the facility is secure from unwanted entry, the playground is safe and fenced, electrical outlets are capped, computers and other digital mediums are monitored and supervised when being used by a child, etc.

Hygiene, especially among children, must be upkept to reduce the risk of disease and to ensure personal health and safety. Some measures to take to ensure cleanliness include: regularly wiping down and/or disinfecting toys and other equipment, encouraging children to wash their hands and covering their face when sneezing or coughing, emptying garbage cans regularly, keeping the kitchen clean, staff handling food have the proper food handling certification, making sure the playground is free of litter, etc. If there are concerns regarding the safety or cleanliness of a child care/day care facility, a parent can speak with the childcare/day care operator directly or contact the Ministry of Education Child Care Quality Assurance and Licensing Office.

What Qualifications are Needed to Work in a Licensed Child Care/ Day Care Facility?

A supervisor in a licensed child care/day care facility must be a member of the College of Early Childhood Educators and have at least of 2 year of experience as a licensed child care professional  appointed by the director, or, based on the director’s opinion is competent to plan and direct the child care centre, being in charge, and overseeing the staff. Other qualified employees should also be members in good standing with the College of Early Childhood Educators or otherwise appointed by the director. Where the children are a junior school age, employees who have diplomas/degrees in child and youth care, recreation and leisure services or are members in good standing with the Ontario College of Teachers, are also deemed qualified employees.

Child Care/Day Care Operator’s Duty to Obtain Record Checks

Every child care/day care operator has a duty to obtain an initial record check from every employee (prior to the start of their employment) as well as from any volunteer or student who will be working in the child care facility before their placement begins.

Child Care/ Day Care Facilities During Covid-19

During the Covid-19 pandemic, most child care centres remain open, but  must strictly adhere to provincial guidelines regarding safety and health protocols to ensure children’s’ safety. Parents themselves must also ensure that they are doing the best they can to keep their families safe, and check their children’s temperatures and symptoms daily before sending them to the child care/ day care facility.

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