Here are some common questions about Children’s Services.

Early Learning & Licensed Child Care

The following information is for parents and guardians about the early learning and child care system in the district of Nipissing.

Click here to download an infographic on the different types of child care programs and age groups that are available.

What does licensed child care mean?

When child care settings are licensed, they are regulated to ensure high standards of safety and quality. This means your children will benefit from a positive atmosphere in a safe environment where staff interact with children in a variety of fun and inviting activities.

The Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) regulates all licensed child care settings. The CCEYA sets provincial safety and quality standards in many areas such as staff-to-child ratios, safe playgrounds, establishing healthy eating and sleeping habits as well as age-specific play areas.

What is the difference between licensed and informal care?

In Ontario, anyone who cares for more than five unrelated children under the age of 10 years has to be licensed by the Ministry of Education. Licensed child care providers have to meet certain provincial health, safety and caregiver training standards.

To learn about the differences between licensed (formal) and unlicensed (informal) child care, visit the Ontario Ministry of Education’s page on Choosing Child Care.

What is the child care and early years act?

The Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 is the legislation that replaced the Day Nurseries Act (DNA) and established new rules governing child care in Ontario.

The Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) regulates all licensed child care settings. The CCEYA sets provincial safety and quality standards in many areas such as staff-to-child ratios, safe playgrounds, establishing healthy eating and sleeping habits as well as age-specific play areas.

What types of licensed child care programs exist?

Child Care Centres – Centre-based programs provide care to a number of children in a specially designed environment. In the Nipissing District, many are now located in schools to help children with the transition to school and to allow families to be in a familiar and easy-to-access environment. Hours will vary offering full day, part day, before & after school programs, weekend or extended evening hours.

Family Home Child Care – This type of care is regulated in the same way licensed child care centres are. An agency contracts with individuals to provide care in their own home. A home visitor makes sure these providers meet the requirements of the legislation and receive adequate training and resources. Hours will vary offering full day, part day, before & after school programs, extended evening hours, holidays and up to 24 hours a day care.

What is an approved recreation program?

Authorized recreation programs are those whose primary purpose is to provide child care but also include, as a complementary purpose, activities that promote recreational, artistic, musical, or athletic skills or provide religious, culture or linguistic instruction.  

Authorized Recreation Programs Fact Sheet

Why registered early childhood educators?

Licensed child care programs employ Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) who study child development, curriculum development and behaviour management. The two-year ECE diploma also includes child care placements.  Early Childhood Educators are also registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators.

Qualified RECEs are instrumental in establishing a warm and stimulating environment for your child.  Home child care centres have carefully screened, approved and supported providers who keep current with early childhood education development issues and trends.

How does the college help inform parents about registered early childhood educators?

The public register informs parents, employers and the public if an RECE is a member of the College. Providing this information assures the public that individuals practising the profession of early childhood education are qualified, competent and accountable.   
The College can help if you want to find out more information about the ethical and professional standards that guide our members, registered early childhood educators. Find out what to do if you have a concern about an RECE. 

You can also read Connexions, the College’s publication and their annual reports online.


Can you describe a typical day in child care?

How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years is a professional learning resource for those working in child care and child and family programs. It supports pedagogy and program development in early years settings that is shaped by views about children, the role of educators and families, and the relationships among them. It builds on foundational knowledge about children and is grounded in new research and leading-edge practice from around the world.

How Does Learning Happen? inspires critical reflection and discussion among those who work with children and their families in early years settings. It includes goals for children, expectations for programs and questions for reflection that provide a starting point for thinking about the types of environments, experiences, and interactions that bring out the best in children, families and educators. It will help to strengthen the quality of early years programs and services across Ontario as we explore together, how learning happens.

What does child care age groupings mean?

Children in licensed child care centres are usually grouped according to their age.

  • Infant: is a child under 18 months of age.
  • Toddler:  is a child from 18 months to 30 months (2 ½ years old).
  • Preschool:  is a child from 2½ years up to and including 5 years old.
  • Junior kindergarten: is a child 3½ years of age or over and up to and including 5 ½ years old as of August 31 of the year, who is eligible to attend junior kindergarten.
  • Senior kindergarten: is a child 4½ years of age or over and up to and including 5½ years old as of August 31 of the year, who is eligible to attend senior kindergarten.
  • School Age: is a child 5½ years of age or over as of August 31 of the year (who is eligible for grade one attendance) and up to 12 years old.

With Mixed Age Groupings, up to 20% of children in one age group can be combined with another age group. This occurs to allow children from one age group to transition into the next older age group and to allow for family groupings.

What are child care ratios?

The Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) sets out child-to-staff ratios that must be followed at all times. The younger the children, the lower the child-to-staff ratio will be.

The Ministry of Education has created a useful Ratios Fact Sheet as well as a document covering Family Age Groupings that give further information on staff ratios.

How much does child care cost?

Choosing licensed child care gives children access to quality programming, school readiness and a range of community supports. Though the cost may at first seem expensive, the rates for licensed child care gradually get lower as children get older:

  • Approximately $1,000 per month for an infant
  • Approximately $870 per month for a toddler
  • Approximately $800 per month for a preschooler
  • Approximately $260 per month for school age children (before or after school)
  • Approximately $430 per month for school age children (before and after school care)

A child care fee subsidy may be available to assist eligible families with the cost of their child care expenses.

What type of communications should I expect from my child's caregiver?

Ongoing communication between you (the parent) and the caregiver is crucial to ensuring a successful child care arrangement. After a period of adjustment, your child should be able to make the transition from home to child care relatively easily. The centre should be providing support to you by discussing your child’s development and should recognize the parent as the primary caregiver.

Once you have found a quality program for your child, continue to observe and talk with the supervisor and/or caregiver to ensure that the program continues to meet the needs of your child and your family.

Your respect and trust will help to build a positive relationship with your child care staff or provider. This in turn will benefit your child when he/she is aware that both you and the child care provider have his/her best interests at heart. And you’ll benefit too, from the peace of mind knowing your child is receiving quality care.

What if I have a concern with the care being provided for my child?

It is important for parents to be informed when making decisions about child care.

Child care should be an enriching and satisfying experience for your child. You should always feel confident that your child is in a healthy, safe and happy environment.

If you have concerns about a child care centre, you can contact a DNSSAB Quality Assurance Specialist by emailing quality@dnssab.ca.  

If you have concerns about a Registered Early Childhood Educator providing care to your child, contact the College of Early Childhood Educators to submit a complaint.

If you have concerns or complaints about an unlicensed child care provider, please contact 1-844-516-6263 or use the registry of unlicensed child care violations to find out if your unlicensed child care provider has any violations against him or her.

Parents should be aware that in Ontario, unlicensed child care providers are not regulated by the government. This means they are neither licensed nor inspected. However, the ministry does investigate all complaints from the public about child care providers who may be:

  • providing care to more than five unrelated children without a licence.
  • providing private-home day care at more than one private residence without a licence.

Ministry of Education website: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/concerns.html


Where can I find more resources for parents/guardians?

Click here for an article containing some useful links for further reading about early years and child care.

Quality Assurance

Quality is an essential part of every learning and child care program.  Children’s Services provides supports to professionals working in early learning and licensed child care programs to ensure high quality programs are offered.  

What is Quality Early Learning and Child Care?

Parents know their children and want their children to have the best possible care.  While location and cost are factors that are considered when making child care arrangements, the quality of care is also vital.   Quality early learning and child care programs make children feel safe, supported and provide rich learning experiences that help every child to reach their full potential. It is important for families to visit the early learning and child care program that they are interested in.  Visiting the program allows you to observe the program, ask questions and meet program staff.

How do I find child care that's right for our family?

There are numerous licensed child care programs available throughout the District of Nipissing. In order to find licensed child care program that will work for your family visit Nipissing’s Child Care Registry. This website provides a list of all the available licensed child care locations and programs providing services for children from infancy up to 12 years of age.

Once your name and contact information has been added to the Registry, a licensed child care provider will contact you as soon as a space becomes available.  Some parents can wait for months before they are able to get child care, especially with infants and toddlers.  It is a good idea to register early – even before your child is born.

All of the licensed child care programs in the registry meet government standards for quality and safety.  It’s important to remember that each child care centre is different and that it is worth investing the time and effort to search around and find the services that would best meet your child’s needs.

See also:

4 Steps to Finding the Right Child Care

What questions should I be asking on a first visit to a program?

Listed below are some sample questions to ask when visiting a child care provider for the first time.

  1. What are the hours of operation, what is the procedure for pick-up (i.e. who can pick up your child) and what is the late pick-up policy?
  2. What is the behaviour management policy?
  3. What are the qualifications of staff?
  4. What is the policy on parents visiting?
  5. What is the fee structure and fee payment arrangement? What about sick, vacation and absent days?
  6. Are menus posted reflecting nutritious meals based on Canada’s Food Guide? Are special dietary needs accommodated
  7. What is the policy for sick children? (For the child’s comfort and in order to avoid spreading illness, it is important that sick children be isolated from others until they can be picked up by a parent.)
  8. Is there a parent advisory committee?
  9. How will the centre/caregiver provide the parent with the child’s progress and day-to-day information?
  10. What staff-child ratios are used?
  11. Are staff trained in CPR and First Aid?

See Also:

Common Questions to Ask a Child Care Provider

What is Play Based Learning?

Children are naturally curious about the world. They actively explore their environment and the world around them through play. By exploring ideas and language, manipulating objects, acting out roles, or experimenting with materials such as blocks, natural items, playdough and paint – these are some of the ways children learn through play.

What does Quality Assurance look like during COVID-19?

Prior to the presence of COVID-19, the Children’s Services Quality Assurance team would conduct site visits to each licensed child care and EarlyON centre in the Nipissing District. At this time, they are unable to visit the sites physically, however the team has made the decision to move forward with Virtual Site Visits through the online platform Zoom.

Click Here to learn more.

Child Care Subsidy

Fee subsidy offers an essential support for many families, helping them balance the demands of a career and family while working, pursuing education or participating in a training program. Here are some common questions about child care subsidy.

You can also download the Fee Subsidy Flyer by clicking on the buttons below.

Fee Subsidy – English   Fee Subsidy – French

Am I eligible for child care fee subsidy?

In order to be eligible for child care subsidy, each parent must complete an income tax return every year. Eligibility for fee subsidy is based on the family’s net income, shown on line 236 of your most recent Revenue Canada Notice of Assessment. The following table gives an example of the monthly amount that the family would have to contribute to child care costs.

If the actual child care costs exceed the parental contribution amount then you may be eligible for fee subsidy.

How is the parental contribution calculated?

Fee subsidies are available across a broad range of income levels. Families with an adjusted annual income of up to $20,000 are eligible for full fee subsidy and no calculation of a parental contribution is required.

For families with adjusted annual income above $20,000, the parental contribution is calculated based on 10% of their adjusted income over $20,000.

For families with adjusted annual income above $40,000, the parental contribution is calculated at 10% of the amount over $20,000 up to $40,000 plus 30% of the amount over $40,000. For example:

The income test is designed such that parents pay the monthly parental contribution as calculated above in each month that their child(ren) need child care regardless of the number of days of child care per week.

The monthly parental contribution is calculated by dividing the annual parental contribution amount by 12. The daily contribution amount is calculated using the following formula: (Monthly parental contribution) / (Days of care per week x 4.35)
How are absent days allocated?

Although children are expected to attend the Child Care centre in accordance with the approved hours and days of care, Children’s Services recognizes that planned and unforeseen absences will occur throughout the year.  The allotment of absent/vacation days is intended to support parents in meeting their child and family’s child care needs.

If child care fee subsidy is approved for a child enrolled in child care five (5) days per week to begin care in January, twenty-four (24) absent days are allocated for the year.  However, if child care begins during any other month (other than January) or if a child is enrolled less than five (5) days per week, the absent days allotted will be prorated.

Example of prorated circumstances:

  • If child care fee subsidy is approved for a child enrolled in child care five (5) days per week is approved for fee subsidy in the month of August, ten (10) absent days are allocated for the remainder of the year;
  • If child care fee subsidy is approved for a child enrolled in child care three (3) days per week, fourteen (14) absent days are allocated for the year;
  • If child care fee subsidy is approved for a child enrolled in child care for PD days, breaks and summer six (6) absent days are allocated for the year.
What if my circumstances change?

You must report changes to your Children’s Services Representative immediately to determine your continued ongoing eligibility for child care subsidy if your circumstances change for any reason, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Marital status or family size
  • Employment or schooling status (including change in hours of employment)
  • Enrolment in an educational program (including dropping or adding courses)
  • Changes in residence – if you move or change your phone number
Please note: You must file an income tax return each year, respond to all letters, and submit information by the deadline given.
What if my income is reduced before my annual review?

If you will be experiencing a decrease in adjusted gross income (line 236 of your Notice of Assessment) of 20 percent or more within the calendar year, you may be eligible for a decrease in your child care contribution. Contact your Children’s Services Representative to determine if your decreased adjusted gross income impacts your assessed contribution amount.

What if I fail to report changes in my circumstances?

If you fail to report any changes that may impact your child care subsidy, Children’s Services reserves the right to recover overpayments.  An overpayment is the difference between the amount of Fee Subsidy paid on behalf of the Applicant(s) less the amount that actually should have been paid according to their circumstances.

For further information regarding the Fee Subsidy Overpayments and Recoveries policy, please contact ChildrenServices@dnssab.ca.


What if I don't agree with a decision related to my fee subsidy services?

Children’s Services has established a complaint resolution and appeal process to address complaints and disputes related to fee subsidy in order to provide services that are fair, equitable, transparent and addressed in a timely manner.  

Applicants should first discuss the concern with their Children’s Services Representative (CSR) in order that the decision can be explained in detail and/or seek a possible resolution to the dispute.  If there is not resolution, the Applicant must submit an appeal letter, signed and dated, to the attention of the Supervisor or designate, within ten (10) business days.   

Child Care Fee Subsidy Appeal Form

Where can I find Licensed Child Care Services?

Nipissing’s Child Care Registry is the easiest way to find early learning and child care programs throughout the District of Nipissing.  In order to find licensed child care program visit Nipissing’s Child Care Registry. This website provides a list of all the available licensed child care locations and programs providing services for children from infancy up to 12 years of age.

Once your name and contact information has been added to the Registry, a licensed child care provider will contact you as soon as a space becomes available.

What documents do I need to bring to my fee subsidy appointment?

Please bring the following documents to your Fee Subsidy appointment:

  • Most recent Notice of Assessment or Canadian Child Benefit Notice
  • Confirmation – Reason for service (e.g. Employment, Education or Special Needs referral for child or parent)
  • Identification for each family member (Health Card not accepted)
  • Custody Agreement (if applicable)
How long do I have to wait for a fee subsidy appointment?

When calling to complete a fee subsidy application, if your child has already secured a child care space, a subsidy appointment will be booked at this time.  Typically, you can expect an appointment within 3 days.

How long does it take to determine my eligibility for fee subsidy?

Eligibility will be determined once verification is completed by your CSR.  The time it takes to verify your application will be dependent on how quickly all of the required information is submitted to your CSR.  

How often do I need to update my file?

On at least an annual basis, your child care subsidy file will be reviewed and you will be required to submit requested documents in order to determine your continued eligibility.

While receiving child care subsidy, your caseworker will work with you to make sure you get the service and supports you need. If you still have unanswered questions, please contact your caseworker.

What if I no longer require fee subsidy?

Children’s Services is obligated, through the service agreement with the early learning and child care centre, to pay two weeks’ notice of child care fees from the date that services are no longer required, provided that another child is not waiting to fill the space you no longer require.

You are responsible to give two weeks’ notice to the child care centre and advise your Children’s Services Representative immediately should you no longer require child care services.

What if my child has special needs?

If your child has special needs, please have a health or social services professional complete the following Special Needs Referral for Child Care Fee Subsidy form and bring it with you to your appointment.

Special Needs Referral Form

Special Needs Referral Form (French)

Special Needs

Families with children with special needs face unique challenges accessing early learning and child care services that meet the needs of their children. Here are some answers to common questions we receive.

What do special needs resourcing supports include?
  • Regular visits to programs
  • Early identification and intervention
  • Individual consultation

Provide support to early learning and child care professionals to facilitate the full participation of an individual child requiring additional supports in order to ensure his/her success within the program.

Individual consultation is a collaboration between the SNR, family and the child care staff to support the development of individual program plans/goals, adaptations and teaching strategies for an individual child with extra support needs. SNRs can provide modeling and coaching to child care staff to help them develop their skills to work with individual children and by supporting the transition into care and service coordination. Resources can be provided and appropriate referrals for additional services specific to an individual child can be made, including referral for Enhanced Funds, Occupational Therapy or Behaviour Therapy Consultation Services. SNR staff will provide ongoing documentation of child’s progress and support given through progress reports and a written visit summary at the end of every visit.

  • Program consultation

Build the capacity of early learning and child care program to support the inclusion of children requiring additional supports.  Special Needs Resourcing Consultants can provide support and recommendations to the early learning and child care program through observations, environmental assessments and providing strategies for adaptations to meet the needs of every child in the program.

  • Suggestions for program adaptations
  • Professional Learning Opportunities

The Inclusion Support Program supports the training needs of the early learning and child care programs across the District in order to enhance knowledge and build capacity.  Special Needs Resource Consultants or other community special needs resourcing professionals can deliver professional learning opportunities to professionals working in early learning and child care settings on a variety of special needs issues to further broaden knowledge in specific areas.

  • Referrals
  • Support with service coordination
  • Enhanced Funding

Enhanced Funding are additional funds to provide short term enhanced staffing so that regular program staff can implement strategies to include children with extra support needs in the program. Enhanced staff does not count as part of the regular child care ratios.

Request for enhanced staffing can be arranged through the Special Needs Resourcing Agency providing services to your early learning and child care agency.

Do I have to pay additional fees in order to receive special needs services or supports for my child?

Parents are not required to pay more for extra staffing or support their child may need.

Are there any other resources that can support my family?

There are many other local programs and services to help children with special needs and their families. Please refer to this website for additional information to help support you and your family.

Additional Resources & Supports:

Please note: the information on this website is intended to be used as a guide and is subject to change. It does not reflect all policies and procedures of the Children’s Services Department.

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