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Types of child care

Parents can choose from licensed home-based child care, licensed centre-based child care or Informal (unlicensed) child care. Also find out about school age care.

Licensed child care

Licensed child care programs are offered in homes and in centres. These programs are licensed by the Ministry of Education and must meet specific provincial standards that provide for the health, safety and developmental needs of children.

Learn more about licensed home-based child care.
Learn more about licensed centre-based child care.

Search for licensed child care by:

  • Location;
  • Type of program (home-based or centre-based);
  • Age-group; and
  • Postal Code.

This provincial website also gives the results of inspections conducted by the Ministry of Education for any licensed child care home or centre.

Informal (unlicensed) care

Informal child care arrangements are made between the parents and a caregiver, such as a neighbour, relative or friend. Parents should be aware that informal caregivers are not regulated. This means they are neither licensed nor inspected. As a result, they are not required to meet provincial standards. It is up to parents to research, choose and monitor their child care arrangements. Child care subsidies are not available for informal care.

The Ministry of Education provides a Registry of Unlicensed Child Care Violations for reported violations. For example, a violation could be too many children in care or not following the approved ages in care.

Learn more about informal care by visiting the Child Care Providers Resource Network of Ottawa.

School age care

Learn about care for children attending elementary school such as before and after school hours, at lunch, during school breaks and on days when schools are closed. Many full-day kindergarten programs offer before- and after-school programs. 

To get information on attendance boundaries, visit the school board websites:

Find the right child care

City of Ottawa Child Care Registry and Waitlist – An online system that allows parents to apply for licensed centre-based or home-based child care; low income parents can also apply to the Waitlist for a child care subsidy fee. Find the list of providers that have opted in to the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) System.

Ministry of Education  – Learn about child care choices in Ontario, how to find a child care provider, how to prepare your child for child care and much more.

Ontario Early Years Centres – Find a centre in Ottawa where children up to the age of six and their parents and caregivers can take part in programs and activities together.

School Boards – Ottawa-Carleton District School Board , Ottawa Catholic School Board , Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario , Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est.

Families attending the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board for English as a Second Language, Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada or Literacy and Basic Skills classes can get free-on-site child care .

Licensed Home Child Care Network of Ottawa  – For people who may be interested in providing licensed home care, or for parents interested in finding licensed home care.

The New Child Care and Early Years Act “What Providers and Parents Need to Know” - Answers key questions about how the changes under the new Act will affect licensed and unlicensed child care providers in Ontario.

Resources for parents

Quality indicators for early learning

Ministry of Education - Ontario's Pedagogy for Early Years  - How does learning happen?

College of Early Childhood Educators 

Child Care and Early Years Act 2014 

Healthy living and parenting

Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa - committed to protecting the children and youth in our community from abuse and neglect

Ottawa Public Health  - Provides public health programs and services to Ottawa individuals and communities while advocating for public policies that make our city and its residents healthier. Includes a wealth of programs and services like access to health and dental care; mental and emotional health; nutrition; sexual health; pregnancy and babies; and much more 

Community Health and Resource Centres 

Parachute  - A national, charitable organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives 

Children with special needs

Ministry of Children and Youth Services  - Provides parents with information about infant hearing programs, speech and language programs, infant development and more

Children’s Inclusive Support Services  - Provides resources and funding so that children with disabilities enrolled in licensed programs may get the extra help they need

Other resources

Ottawa Neighbourhood Study  - Provides detailed demographic information on Ottawa neighbourhoods and the people who live there

Canada Child Benefit – A tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age