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Child Care

Choosing the right care can be complex. We can help.

You want the best for your child, especially when it comes to their daily care. But the search for child care that meets your needs can be overwhelming. There are many factors you may consider, including  proximity to home and/or work, cost, environment, child’s needs, and quality of care. We’re here to help you navigate the child care system to ensure you find the best option for you and your family.
 
child holding hands and skating inbetween a woman and man at an indoor ice rink


 

On this page


Licensed versus Unlicensed

The Models of Licensed Child Care

Child Care Centres
(Ages 0-4)

Home Child Care (Ages 0-12)

What to Look for and Questions to Ask

Tour

Before- and After- School Programs (Ages 4-12)

How to Register

Sign Up/Join the Waitlist

Subsidy Information

Ontario Child Care Tax Credit

Getting Ready

Need More Help?

 

Licensed versus Unlicensed


Once you’ve determined your needs and wants for child care, you can start exploring options. In Ontario, there are two types of child care, the first is programs that are licensed by the Ministry of Education, and the second is unlicensed home care. Licensed child care is government-regulated and inspected. Unlicensed child care providers, on the other hand, do not receive inspection nor are they required to meet most provincial standards. The ministry, however, does investigate public complaints about child care providers who may be operating illegally.

We’re here to help you navigate licensed child care programs that meet defined standards of quality which are meant to protect the health, safety, and well-being of all children in care.
 
 

The Models of Licensed Child Care


There are three different models of licensed child care in Ontario: child care centres, home child care, and before-and-after school programs.


If you have an infant, toddler, or preschooler:

The search for child care will take some time and research to help you make the choice that's right for you and your family.
 
For children from birth to 4 years old, you have the option to enroll them in either a licensed children’s centre or home child care program.

The Ministry of Education recommends finding at least three care options that you feel would be a good fit. Through research you can then narrow the list down to the program best suited to your family.
 

Child Care Centres (Ages 0-4)
 
Child Care Centres provide care for infants, toddlers, and pre-school children. Types of care include nursery schools, and centres offering full-day and extended care hours.
 
Some of the benefits of licensed child care centres include:
 
  • Government-regulated and inspected
  • Children are with other children their age
  • Staff members include professionals with training in early childhood education
  • The centre has to meet certain standards of care
  • Activities are designed for children at different stages of development
  • A child care fee subsidy may be available
 
Find Child Care Services Near You: 
   
 
Home Child Care (Ages 0-12)

Home Child Care is provided by individual caregivers who are contracted by licensed home child care agencies. These caregivers may care for infants up to school-aged children, and may offer before and after school care or extended hours. Home-based child care programs are routinely inspected by home visitors employed by the contracting agencies.
 
Some of the benefits of licensed home child care include:
 
  • Government-regulated and inspected home that meet specific standards
  • Siblings to be placed together
  • Small group size
  • Child care agencies to provide caregivers professional development opportunities, support and monitoring
  • Standards that must be met by caregivers
  • Child care fee subsidies may be available
 
Find Child Care Services Near You: 
 

What to Look for and Questions to Ask

Start off with a phone interview with the person in charge of the care program, such as a coordinator/manager or home visitor. In our Choosing Child Care: Questions to Ask document, you will find a list of questions, grouped by theme, that you may use in the phone conversation to decide whether you want to follow up with a visit to the child care program:
 

Tour

Once you’ve had a phone conversation, you can decide whether or not the child care option is a good fit. The next step is to plan a visit to each program you’re still considering.

Arrange to visit the child care centre or home child care during the day so you can observe the care in action. During the visit, you’ll want to speak with the caregivers, observe their interaction with the children, and take a close look at the indoor and outdoor environments.

This is your opportunity to make connections between what was discussed in your phone interview and what you’re able to observe within the child care program, to find out as much as you can about day-to-day operations and take plenty of notes.
When assessing a child care program option, consider the following during your tour:
 
  • Are the children happy and interested in their activity?
  • Are the staff warm, responsive, and engaged with the children?
  • Is the location clean and safe?
  • Is there enough space for the number of children?
  • Are there adequate napping and toilet facilities?
  • Are the equipment and furniture in good condition?
  • Are cleaning materials and medications stored out of children’s reach?
  • Is the Ministry of Education license clearly posted?
  • Are there any posted parent communications? (e.g. photos, examples of children’s creations or activities)
  • Are menus posted or available for you to take a look at?
  • Is there an information package you can take away?
 
If your child is in – or ready for – school:
 
Before- and After-School Programs (Ages 4-12)

Before-and-After School Programs are provided primarily within elementary schools, for children from kindergarten age to 12 years old.
 
These school age programs, licensed by the Ministry of Education, operate before- and/or after-school as well as during non-instructional days, such as professional activity (P.A.) days and school holidays.
 
Your child’s before- and after-school program would likely be determined by the school which they attend.
 
For schools within the Thames Valley District School Board and London District Catholic School Board, your child’s designated home school is determined by your primary place of residence. For tools to determine your child’s home school, or alternative schooling options available to you, visit the School Age page.
 
If your child is attending a school from Conseil scolaire catholique Providence or the Conseil scolaire Viamonde, they have six location options for before- and after- school programs. View their before- and after-school program information [external link] for more details and to download the registration form. 
 
If you will require child care before and/or after school, visit your school board’s website or connect with your child’s school directly to see available child care programs.
 
Some programs may be offered through children’s centres.
 
Find Child Care Services Near You:
   


How to Register


Sign Up/Join the Waitlist

In order to request the child care that best suits your family, you simply need to complete an application through the London and Middlesex Region Child Care Waitlist [external link].

Also known as the One List, the London and Middlesex Region Child Care Waitlist [external link] is an online portal that eliminates the need to contact multiple child care organizations to complete multiple applications. Through this single application process, you can request child care through any of the licensed child care, school-age, home-based and nursery school programs in the City of London or County of Middlesex.

You may apply to as many child care programs as you like. Availability of child care will be dependent on the type, location, and details of the care you have requested.

When a space is available, you will be contacted by the child care organization.


Subsidy Information

The City of London and Middlesex County operate a child care subsidy program to provide financial assistance to eligible individuals and families by reducing a portion of their licensed child care cost.
   
You can apply for the Child Care Fee Subsidy directly through the Child Care Waitlist online application, or separately here.
 
You may also be interested in visiting the Ministry of Education’s ‘Find and Pay for Childcare’ website to learn more about how to find quality child care.


Ontario Child Care Tax Credit

The Ontario Child Care Tax Credit supports families with incomes up to $150,000, particularly those with low and moderate incomes. Find out if your family is eligible by visiting the Ontario Child Care Tax Credit website. 

Ontario Child Care Tax Credit [external link]

 

Getting Ready


You’ve done it! You’ve submitted your application for child care by joining the London and Middlesex Region Child Care Waitlist [external link].
 
If a space is not immediately available at your desired location, use this time to prepare your child for child care once a space becomes available.
 
If you child is under 6 years old, one option is to participate in drop-in playgroups, where your child can interact with other children and get comfortable being around adults.
 
EarlyON programs offer free, drop-in play activities for families and children up to 6 years old. Early childhood development professionals are available to offer advice. EarlyON programs are available at a variety of community locations, including within Family Centres. French programming/programmes ON ya va, are also available for children and families. Visit our Program Calendar to find all drop-in playgroups.

Libraries are also a great source for children and family programs. Both the London Public Library and Middlesex County Library offer a range of programs for young children, such as storytime, songs, rhythm, and movement.
 

Once you have secured a child care space, there are a couple things you can do before starting care:
 
  • Visit the child care program with your child to meet the caregivers and the other children to help them get familiar with the environment.
  • If going to child care means a new schedule, such as waking up earlier or eating breakfast at different times, start this new schedule several days before attending care.

In the first few days or weeks of care:
 
  • Work with the child care staff on a plan for dropping off your child to ease the transition
  • If you can, start care gradually. As your child becomes more settled, gradually increase the time your child is in care until it reaches a full day.
  • Connect with the child care staff to check in and see how your child is doing.
  • Do your best to pick your child up at the time you said you would.


Need More Help?


Community Connectors are fundamental to helping London families get connected to services and supports. In every Family Centre, families are greeted by a knowledgeable, friendly Community Connector who helps them connect seamlessly to more opportunities that help them be successful in all aspects of their lives.

Contact or visit a Family Centre to speak with a Community Connector.

MLHU Telephone Support for Families
Available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm, call 519-663-5317 to speak with a Public Health Nurse from the Middlesex-London Health Unit about questions or concerns about parenting, or caring for your infant or child.

Telehealth Ontario
Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential service you can call to get health advice or information. A Registered Nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In a medical emergency, call 911.

Toll-free: 1-866-797-0000

Toll-free TTY: 1-866-797-0007