A guide for parents in Canada

Set up a visit

Once you have decided which child care centres or caregivers’ homes you are interested in, ask to make appointments to visit them. (Note that some programs may not schedule a visit until a space becomes available).

Parents should be aware that no province or territory permits full-day child care centres to operate without a license.
  • Visits can be time consuming, and it may be hard to gauge the quality of a centre or home in one visit. The checklist (What to look for - a checklist) can help you prepare for, and get the most out of your visits. You can use it to help you observe or ask questions during child care visits.
  • Don’t be shy about asking questions. Child care is vital to your child’s well-being, safety and development, and you have a right to expect that it meets a high standard. Whether the child care is in a centre or a private home (even if it isn’t regulated) you still need to—and have the right to—ask questions.
  • A good program with competent and professional staff or caregiver will be happy to answer your questions, will be prepared for your visit, and will have resource materials to help you understand the program.
  • Quality child care has many common features whether it’s provided in a home or a centre. At the same time, there are also differences, and things to look for that are specific to the setting.
  • Although regulated child care is required to meet provincial or territorial standards, it’s still important to remember that these are considered to be minimums. Therefore, you should know what to look for and ask about—no matter what the child care setting.
  • Keep in mind that in unregulated child care, parents have the sole responsibility for assessing the quality of the child care and managing the relationship with the caregiver. Although there is no public oversight, unregulated family child care has characteristics in common with regulated family child care. With this in mind, being aware of the provinces’/territories’ requirements for regulated family child care may be useful as a guideline.