Families and caregivers

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Types of child care

Families and caregivers can choose from licensed home-based child care, licensed centre-based child care or unlicensed child care. Families and caregivers can also register for licensed before and after school programs. 

Licensed child care

Licensed child care programs are offered in centres, homes and schools. 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
  • Language.

Before and after school age care

Some families may need care before and or after school. Many schools that offer kindergarten to grade six also have before and after school programs

Register for a before and/or after school program using the City of Ottawa Child Care Registry and Waitlist.

Learn more by contacting the school or visiting the school board's website:

Health and safety inspections for licensed child care centres

Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education provides a list of inspections for licensed child care centres and homes.

Ottawa Public Health

Ottawa Public Health inspects all licensed child care facilities to:  

  • Ensure food safety requirements are being met 
  • Improve infection prevention and control (IPAC) practices
  • Reduce the risk of infection.  

Inspection reports are available for each centre.

Unlicensed care

Some families may choose to send their child(ren) to unlicensed home child care. Families should be aware that unlicensed caregivers are not regulated. This means they are not licensed or inspected. Because unlicensed caregivers are not regulated, they are not required to meet the same provincial standards as licensed centres or homes. It is up to families to research, choose and monitor their child care arrangements. Child care fee subsidies are not available for unlicensed care. Child care spaces at unlicensed homes are also not eligible for the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care program.

Unlicensed providers may not operate in multiple locations. They must inform families in writing that they are not licensed. 

Child care complaints and violations

The Ministry of Education is responsible for administering and enforcing the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.

If you have concerns about your child's care, you can make a complaint about a child care provider. And the Ministry of Education provides a Registry of Child Care Violations under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.

Licensing reports for all centre-based licensed child care programs are available on the provincial licensed child care finder.

    Find the right child care and/or early years program

    City of Ottawa Child Care Registry and Waitlist
    An online system that allows families to apply for licensed child care. Families can find a list of child care providers, including those who participate in the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care System. Eligible families can also apply for a child care fee subsidy to help with child care costs
    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
    EarlyON Child and Family Centres
    Centres offer free, high-quality programs for families and children from birth to six years old. You can learn and play with your child, meet people and get advice from early childhood professionals
    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
    Licensed Home Child Care Network of Ottawa
    For families who may be interested finding licensed home care
    Indigenous-led child care
    Learn about Indigenous-led organizations that offer culturally relevant licensed child care programming

    Learn about municipal child care

    The City of Ottawa operates ten Municipal child care centres licensed by the Ministry of Education under the Child Care and Early Years Act. They offer centre-based care for children 18 months to 5 years old. Municipal child care centres are part of the Canda-Wide Early Learning and Child Care System. 

    They offer:

    • Services in English or French
    • Qualified staff who provide educational programs with indoor and outdoor activities
    • Nutritious meals/snacks based on Healthy Eating and Active Living Guidelines from Ottawa Public Health.

    Eligible families and caregivers can apply to Child Care Registry and Waitlist for help to pay for child care costs.

    Resources for families

    Provincial resources

    Child Care and Early Years Act 2014
    Provincial Act to foster the learning, development, health and well-being of children and to enhance their safety
    Child care rules in Ontario
    Know the rules your child care provider must follow.
    How does learning happen? Ontario's Pedagogy for Early Years 
    Learn about the four foundations that are important for children's well-being and healthy development.
    College of Early Childhood Educators 
    Find out more information about the ethical and professional standards that guide registered early childhood educators.

    Healthy living and family support

    Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa 
    Committed to protecting the children and youth in our community from abuse and neglect
    Ottawa Public Health  
    Information about local public health programs and services in support of 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.
    Parenting in Ottawa 
    Information about becoming a parent, pregnancy, immunizations for children, breastfeeding/chestfeeding and resources for infants, toddlers, children and youth. Partnering with Ottawa Public Health, they also offer parenting drop-ins, home visits and prenatal services.
    Community Health and Resource Centres 
    Programs and services to meet the needs of the community. Many locations offer free services to support low-income residents in multiple settings and languages. Accessible programs and services are available.

    Children with special needs

    Ministry of Children and Youth Services 
    Provides families with information about infant hearing programs, speech and language programs, infant development and more
    Children’s Inclusive Support Services 
    An organization that works with licensed child care providers to offer resources to support children with special needs.

    Other resources

    Help with child care costs costs 
    Child care fee subsidies help families with the cost of licensed child care. The City of Ottawa prioritizes individuals that are in most need
    Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care System (CWELCC)
    Families may be eligible for child care fee reduction if their child care service provider participates in the CWELCC System. Families should contact their child care provider for fee reduction information. 
    EarlyON Child and Family Centres
    Offer free, high-quality programs for families and children from birth to six years old
    Ottawa Neighbourhood Study 
    Provides detailed demographic information on Ottawa neighbourhoods and the people who live there
    Ontario Child Benefit 
    A Provincial program that provides help to low-income and moderate-income families.
    Canada Child Benefit
    A tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help with the cost of raising children under 18 years old.