A guide for parents in Canada


Who’s responsible?

Who to contact

  • Ministère de la Famille et des Aînés (regulated child care)
  •   Website
  •   1 855 336-8568 (French only)
  •   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Ministère de l’Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur (services for school-age children and kindergarten)
  •   Website
  •   (866) 747-6626
  •   Email contact form

Child care

Two ministries regulate, oversee and administer child care programs.

The Ministère de la Famille is primarily responsible for child care for preschool-aged children (0 - 4 years), while Ministère de l’Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur has responsibility for before-  and after-school child care (4 - 12 years).

Programs for preschool-aged children are licensed under the Educational Childcare Act and the Educational Childcare Regulation. Before-and after-school child care falls under the Education Act and is not required to be licensed,

Programs are delivered by non-profit and for-profit operators. Centres de la petite enfance are non-profit and are publicly funded, while garderies may be publicly funded or unfunded and are usually for-profit. Other than Indigenous child care on reserves and Inuit lands, there is no publicly delivered child care.


Kindergarten for five-year-olds is a full school-day. Four-year-old kindergarten is being phased in. Children are not required to be enrolled in either kindergarten year.

Finding child care

Facts and figures

  • There is a regulated space for 57.4% of children aged 0 – 12 yrs. (2019)
  • There is a full-time centre-based space for 42% of children aged 0 – 5 yrs. (2019)
  • 20% of regulated child care spaces for 0-12 year olds are in for-profit centres. (2019)
  • All school-age centres are publicly-operated (by school boards); there are no publicly-operated centres for 0-4 year olds.

Quebec provides several types of centre-based and family child care programs for 0-12 year olds:

Non-profit full-day centres for 0-4 year olds are called centres de la petite enfance (CPEs). All CPEs are publicly funded to provide reduced contribution fee child care. Fees are set by the provincial government, .

Garderies are full-day for-profit centres for 0-4 year olds.

  • There are two types of garderies: some garderies are publicly funded to provide reduced contribution fee child care at the same set fee as CPEs.
  • There are also garderies that are not publicly funded to provide reduced contribution fees. Parents can recieve a tax credit for their fees in these centres.

Before-and after-school child care is operated by school authorities to provide child care outside regular school hours for children from age 4 to 12 years. Before- and after-school child care is publicly funded, has set fees and is not licensed.

Family child care provided by recognized home child care providers are overseen by Family Child Care Coordinating Offices (CCCO). CCCOs issues permits (licences) to family child care providers. They are responsible for monitoring individual homes under the regulations on behalf of the MFA. They also coordinate the providers, provide training and equipment, and maintain information for current and prospective parents.Some family child care homes have two caregivers—also managed by CCCOs. .

boy with hands on face making glasses

The Childcare Establishment Locator allows parents to search for regulated child care by region, name, and proximity to home or work address. Search results display whether or not the child care centre or home offers the reduced contribution fee program, spaces for infants, as well as provides a link to inspection reports.

Finding educational child care for your child  provides a list of questions for parents to ask prospective providers over the telephone as well as guidelines for what to look for when visiting a centre.

Paying for child care

Quebec has two tiers of child care centres for children younger than kindergarten-age. These are called “reduced contribution spaces” or “subsidized spaces” and “non-reduced contribution spaces. Reduced contribution spaces include centres de a petit enfance (CPEs), which are al non-profit (sometimes called “child care” in Quebec) and garderies, which are mostly for-profit (sometimes called “day care” in Quebec).

The Quebec government sets parent fees at CPEs and funded garderies; non-funded, or non-reduced contribution garderies set their own fees. Parents using non-reduced fee garderoes may apply for a tac credit from the Quebec government.

The flat fee for children at CPEs and funded garderies, regulated family child care homes and child care outside regular school hours for aged 4 - 12 was $8.85 in 2023; the set fee is adjusted for inflation January 1 of each year.

Some parents using reduced contribution child care are exempt from paying the set fee. This applies to parents of children under 5 years of age (September 30) who are beneficiaries under
the Social Assistance program, the Social Solidarity program, the Youth Alternative Program, the Aim for Employment Program, or the Income Security Program for Cree Hunters and Trappers.

Regulated child care

In Quebec, regulated child care centres and family child care must operate in accordance with the regulations set out in the Educational Child Care Act R.S.Q. cC-8.2. Child care provided through school boards must operate in accordance with the Education Act. R.S.Q., c.1-13.3.

License holders in Quebec are inspected once every five years.

Both sets of regulations address a wide range of standards. Several regulations related to program quality are highlighted below.

  • In centres, two-thirds of staff are required to have a college or university early childhood education credential. The credential may be a three year Diplôme d’études collégiales (DEC) or a one year Attestation d’études collégiales combined with three years experience.  
  • Specific training or credentials are not required for centre directors.
  • Family child care providers must hold an early childhood first aid certificate and complete a training program of at least 45 hours pertaining to child development, health, safety and diet issues, organization and leadership in a “life environment”. Providers are also required to take a six hour proficiency course once a year.
  • The regulations relevant to school-age child care does not stipulate any training requirements. Some school boards may require the lead staff to have an early childhood education diploma.
  • 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.

Child care centres (CPEs and garderies)

Each centre may have a maximum of 80 spaces overall.

Staff: child ratios in centres
Age of childStaff:child ratio
0-17 mos 1:5
18 mos - < 4 yrs 1:8
4 yrs - < 5 yrs 1:10
5 yrs + 1:20

Family child care

  • Providers are permitted to care for up to six children (including the provider’s own children) under 9 years with no more than two under 18 months.
  • If the provider is assisted by another adult (group family child care), they may care for nine children (including provider’s own children), with no more than four children under 18 months.

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

Children in child care centres must be provided with an outdoor play space of 4 metres squared per child no more than 500m from the facility and accessible during operating hours. At least 1/3 of the maximum capacity of the centre must be able to play in the outdoor space at any time and adequate fencing must be in place.

Programs are required to provide outdoor play opportunities on a daily basis.

“Childcare providers may not apply degrading or abusive measures, use exaggerated punishment, denigration or threats, or employ abusive or disparaging language that could humiliate or frighten a child or undermine the child’s dignity or self-esteem.” - Educational Childcare Act.

A non-profit child care centre’s board of directors must be made up of at least seven members, 2/3 of whom (minimum of five) are parent-users or future parent-users of the centre. At least one board member must come from the business, institutional, social, education or community sectors, and no more than two shall be staff at the centre.

A garderie’s licence holder must set up an advisory committee made up of five parents and consult with the parent committee on all aspects of the care the children receive in the centre, particularly with respect to implementation of the educational program, services provided and how complaints are processed.

The composition of the boards of directors of family child care coordinating offices are determined by the type of organization.

The regulations require some basic health and safety precautions to be met.

  • In case of a serious illness/accident, necessary medical assistance and parents must immediately be called and the child must be isolated from the group (under supervision of an adult).
  • Service providers must ensure they have written authorization by a parent before administering medication to a child, medication must be labeled and stored in a reserved place.
  • A first aid kit must be available at all times.

A curriculum framework is available for providers: Accueillir la petite enfance: Le programme éducatif des services de garde du Québec. The curriculum framework is only provided in French. The curriculum framework is not compulsory but all CPEs and garderies and recognized home childcare must provide an educational program.


Unregulated child care

Home child care service that is not recognized by a Child Care Coordinating Office (CCCO) may care for no more than six children, including the provider’s own children under 9 years of age, with no more than two children under the age of 18 months.

School-age child care provided in public schools may be exempt from licensing.

As of May 1, 2018, persons who are not recognized by a CCCO or who do not hold a permit issued by the Ministère who provide or wish to provide child care services in a family setting must meet certain conditions other than the number of children such as to obtain an attestation stipulating the absence of any impediment for the person providing child care services and for each person living in the home where child care services are provided.

Jardins d’enfants (nursery schools) operating before October 25, 2005 may be exempted from licensing. After that date, day care permit is required.

Haltes-garderie (stop-over centres) providing occasional or temporary child care for parents who are on site are not required to be licensed.

Children with disabilities

The Quebec objectives strongly favour inclusion though admission to a program is at the discretion of the centre or provider.

Admission for a child with special needs to a regular child care program is at the discretion of the CPE, subsidized garderie, or home child care provider.

To support this initiative, the government provides a one-time grant of $2,200 and an additional $43.19/day/child in addition to the regular operating grants for centres including children with a disability. There is also an additional assistance measure put in place for the inclusion of children with a significant disability.

Non publicly funded garderies do not receive funds to support children with disabilities.

For more information visit Childcare services accessible to disabled children.

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 Sunday, 26 November 2023 19:55