Info|Services: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Choosing child care

Good child care promotes a child’s full development through a happy and safe environment, nutritious food and lots of opportunities for active learning and play with a culturally appropriate program.

It can also help a child develop confidence, creativity, co-ordination, problem-solving skills and healthy relationships with other children.

Most important, it has caring adults who relate well to children and who are concerned about the well-being of children.

Most parents are confused and uncertain when it comes to choosing child care. Finding high quality, convenient and affordable care is an ever-present concern.

There are a number of options to choose from.

Child Care Centres

  • A child care centre is a licensed facility providing care to four or more children in a place other than a family home.
  • The staff/child ratio for child care centres is 1:4 for infants; 1:6 for preschoolers over 18 months of age and 1:8 for preschoolers over age three.

Family Day Homes

  • A family day home is child care provided by an individual in a family home environment.
  • A day home may provide care to four infant; six preschoolers where not more than three are infants or eight preschool children 18 months or older.
  • A family day home providing care to three or fewer children is not required by law to be licensed but does have that option.
  • A home caring for four or more children must be licensed.

When you're choosing child care for your child, look at your options and call around. Visit a number of homes or centres to see what they are like. A list of licensed facilities is available from Child Care Services Unit.


A checklist before your visit:

  1. Is the facility licensed?
     - Licensing ensures adherence to the Child Care Act and its regulations
  2. What is the age range of children attending?
  3. What are the hours of operation, daily and seasonally?
     - Does the facility close down for Christmas or summer holidays?
  4. What is the payment schedule?
  5. Does the price include extras like meals, diapers, special programming
     - e.g. swimming lessons, coverage for professional development days, etc.
  6. Does the program have a parent handbook?


Points to consider:

  • Is the facility licensed?
  • What is the consistency of care (staff turnover)?
  • Are snacks and/or lunch provided?
  • What is the age range of children attending?
  • Are the child/staff ratios met?
  • What are the hours of operation (does the facility close down for Christmas, summer holidays, professional development days)?
  • What is payment schedule?
  • What does price include - meals, snacks, extras like swimming lessons?
  • What will my child be doing during the day?
  • Is there a variety of activities for my child to participate in?
  • Will my child get quiet time?
  • What are emergency procedures?
  • What are the sick policies?
  • What happens if the caregiver is sick?
  • Are there lots of clean, safe toys suitable for my child?
  • Is there a supervised rest period?
  • Will my child get outdoor play?
  • What are policies on toilet training, discipline, nap time?
  • What are the policies for transporting children on field trips or outings?

Visiting the Facility

If you are considering a family day home, you will want to ask about the operator's commitment, e.g. how long has the day home been open and are there any plans to close it in the near future. Consistency is important for your child's well-being and sense of security.

  • Visit the facility
     - preferably at a time when you can see adults and children interacting.
  • Meet with the director operator and ask questions.
     - talk about staffing, the program, environment and parental involvement, as well as discipline methods.

A good child care centre should have a low staff turnover. Ask what training and experience staff have.

The Program

The program is the heart of any centre or family day home. It sets the tone for what your child will be doing during the day.

A good program consists of:

  • Choice of activities - quiet and vigorous
  • Activities that are appropriate to the child's age and developmental level
  • Regular, supervised rest period
  • Play opportunities that give a child a variety of choices such as storytelling, arts and crafts, and outdoor time
  • Regular field trips and outings
  • Are you comfortable with the policies regarding nap time, discipline and toilet training? Ensure no forms of corporal punishment, threats, raised voices, shame or humiliation are permitted. Positive reinforcement ensures that a child's self esteem will grow

Environment and Equipment

Check to see if the facility you are considering is:

  • Bright, clean and attractive
  • Has plenty of natural light
  • Children's artwork is displayed
  • Playground is fenced and free from hazards
  • There are enough toys and equipment for the number of children enrolled

Every child care centre should have activity areas that promote play, creativity and learning. These are some things to look for:

  • Library area - books in a quiet corner with soft cushions or rugs for curling up on
  • Building area with blocks, cars, trucks
  • Dramatic play area - clothes, props for pretend play
  • Quiet area - small table toys, puzzles, play dough
  • Physical activity area - structures to climb on, indoor and outdoor toys

Family day homes do not need to have specific areas set up but should provide the same opportunities for the children.

Equipment should be suitable for the child's age, in good repair and readily accessible to the children.

The Child care Services Unit monitors all licensed facilities on a regular basis. You can ask the operator to see the facility's inspection report.



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