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Early Learning and Child Care in Halton

Research shows the quality of interactions a child experiences in the first few years of life can produce developmental effects that last a lifetime. When looking for child care, it’s important to consider the relationship between the caregiver and the children. For more information on what to look for visit the Child Care Directory and Information Line.

What types of care are available?

In Ontario, licensed child care is regulated by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education provides and enforces the license under provincial legislation called the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA).

There are two licensed options available:
  • Centre-based child care
    • includes child care centres, nursery schools and before and after school programs;
    • are inspected by the Ministry of Education to ensure licensing requirements are met; and
    • must follow specific regulations outlined in the CCEYA, related to child to staff ratios, the physical space, health and safety, nutrition, the program for children and staff qualifications.
  • Home-based child care, contracted by a licensed agency
    • may care for a maximum of six children, including the provider’s own children under age 6;
    • may care for no more than two children under the age of 2;
    • have caregivers that are not licensed by the Ministry of Education, but are contracted by licensed child care agencies; and
    • receive support from a home visitor and participate in professional learning.

Unlicensed child care

In Ontario, unlicensed, informal care is not regulated by the government. The Ministry of Education will investigate all complaints from the public. Unlicensed care may be found in the form of home child care, nannies or babysitters.

Unlicensed home child care

  • may care for a maximum of five children, including the provider’s own children under age 6;
  • may care for no more than two children under the age of 2;
  • are required to provide receipts for payment of services;
  • must inform parents in writing that they are an unlicensed provider; and
  • are not regulated or inspected by the Ministry of Education, unless there are complaints.


  • are exempt from the CCEYA;
  • provide care in the home, on a live-in or live-out basis;
  • may offer child care and other housekeeping services;
  • can be arranged through an agency or privately.

When hiring a nanny, ensure that you interview candidates to ensure the right fit for your family and determine if they have the skills and experience you are looking for. Remember that terms of employment must meet employment standards obligations for minimum wage, vacation time, taxes, EI, CPP and worker’s compensation. Always speak to references and request police and vulnerable sector checks.

For more information