A guide for parents in Canada


Who’s responsible?

Who to contact

  • Department of Education
  •   Website
  •   (867) 975-5600
  •   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Nunavut, the Department of Education is responsible for child care programs (up to age twelve) and kindergarten.

The Division of Early Learning and Child Care, in the Department of Education, licenses and funds non-profit child care centres and family day homes that abide by the Nunavut Child Day Care Act.

The Department of Family Services provides Daycare Subsidy (DS) to families that require assistance paying fees when enrolled in education or training opportunities. 

Finding child care

Facts and figures

  • There is a regulated space for 11.8% of children aged 0 – 12 yrs. (2019)
  • There is a regulated full or part-time centre-based space for 22% of children aged 0 – 5 yrs. (2019)
  • All regulated child care is non-profit.

Parents are responsible for finding and obtaining a child care space for their child(ren); there is no universal entitlement to a child care space in Nunavut. 

Parents must contact child care centres directly to register their child or put their name on a waiting list.

Paying for child care

Parents are responsible for paying child care fees.

According to a 2019 Child Care Fee Survey the median monthly fees in Iqaluit for infants is $1300 and $1213 for toddlers and preschoolers. See the report for median monthly child care costs in 37 other major Canadian cities

The Daycare Subsidy (DS) Program, which is administered by Income Assistance, may provide families with a partial subsidy based on a territory-wide needs test. Parents must be attending school or work outside the home to be eligible for a subsidy or have a child with a disability for whom child care is recommended by a recognised health care professional.

toddler with stuffie

Fee subsidies can be used in both regulated and unregulated child care settings as well as full and part-time spots. Subsidies are paid directly to regulated service providers on behalf of families. For unregulated care, the subsidy is paid to the parent based on an invoice signed by the child care provider. An unregulated provider may be a relative of the child being subsidized.

Please contact your community Income Assistance Worker or local licensed childcare centre to receive the Daycare Subsidy application form. 

Regulated child care

In Nunavut, day care centres, nursery schools, after-school care and regulated family day homes must operate in accordance with the Nunavut Child Day Care Act (legislation or law), and the Regulations (explanation of legislation). Their purpose is to set minimum standards that ensure the quality care, instruction and supervision of children.

Regulations address a wide range of standards - from window size to attendance taking to outdoor time. A number of regulations related to program quality are highlighted below.

There are no minimum training requirements in any child care settings in Nunavut.

Caregivers in all regulated settings must be at least 19 years of age and have a first-aid certificate and a clear criminal record with regard to offences respecting a child.

In regulated family child care, providers are not required to have any training but should have an awareness of early childhood development theory.

  • Staff:child ratios address the number of staff required per number of children. 
  • Group size is the number of children, usually of one age group, that stay together throughout the day in a defined group – often a room.
  • Family child care homes have a specified number of children by age.

Staff child ratios address how many staff there must be for a group of children in any given room.

The maximum group size is the number of children of one age group that stay together throughout the day in a defined group – often a room.  

Child care centres

Maximum ratios and group sizes in regulated centre-based care
Age groupStaff:child ratioMax group size
 0-12 mos  1:3  6
 13-24 mos  1:4  8
 25-35 mos  1:6  12
 3 years  1:8  16
 4 years  1:9  18
 5 years  1:10  20
 Mixed age group 0-24mos  1:4  8
 Mixed age group 2-5years  1:8  16
 Mixed age group 5-11 yrs  1:10  20

Family child care

Regulated family child care homes can have a maximum of eight children under 12 years, including the provider’s own children with the following restrictions: No more than six of the children may be younger than five years old, no more than three children may be younger than three years, and no more than two children may be younger than two years.

Regulated centres are not required to provide meals. When meals are provided they must be in accordance with the Canada Food Guide to Healthy Eating.

Every operator shall provide daily outdoor play activities for each child and provide safe outdoor play space.

Where the outdoor play space is adjacent to the child care facility, the operator shall ensure: a minimum of 5 m² of play space is provided for each child; and the space is fenced if the surrounding environment is potentially hazardous to children.

Every operator must develop, post and circulate to staff and to parents/guardians a written discipline policy. An operator shall ensure that no child is subject to any form of physical punishment, verbal or emotional abuse, and/or the denial of any physical necessity.

The legislation requires non-profit programs to have boards of directors with at least 51% parent members. If there are for-profit programs, they are required to establish and confirm in writing with the Director of Child Day Care Services a plan for involving the parents or guardians of children attending the centre in the operation of the program.

The regulations require some basic health and safety precautions to be met. Some examples include: a written procedure for emergency evacuation, daily written record summarizing incidents affecting health, safety, or well-being of staff or children, available first aid kit and first aid manual, medications stored in a locked place, written permission obtained before staff can administer medications to children, and a centre-specific written policy and procedure regarding serious occurrences (i.e., injury, death) must be provided.

There is currently no curriculum framework in Nunavut. A framework and action plan for early childhood development is in development.

The regulations do not address all aspects of quality. For example, there are no regulations or standards addressing curriculum or pedagogy in child care in Nunavut.

Unregulated child care

Family home day care facilities (care provided within the private residence of the operator) are not required to be regulated if they have four or fewer children, including the operator’s own children up to 12-years-old. It is not legal to operate a nursery school or child care facility without a license.

Children with disabilities

Families in Nunavut are eligible for the child care subsidy if their child has a disability and child care is recommended by a recognized health care professional.

Regulated and unregulated child care providers may also apply to receive funding from the Healthy Children Initiative under Supportive Child Services. Supportive Child Services provides extra support on an individual basis for children requiring intensive support or specific assistance. This may include supported childcare or enable children to attend centre-based early childhood programs.

See Do you have a child with a disability or special need? for more information on provincial/territorial supports for children with disabilities in child care.

Last modified on Tuesday, 02 February 2021 11:19