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How To Choose A Child Care Centre print

Finding good child care takes time, patience and planning. Visit many child care settings and compare. Remember, you are buying a service. There are no bargains, only options. For more information about finding quality child care, contact the Child Care Support Line at (905) 830-9487 or 1-888-703-KIDS (5437). Your local Family Resource Program may also be able to provide assistance.

Ontario.ca provides this very helpful page to assist parents:  Find and pay for child care

  • Parents should be shown through the entire facility or home, and allowed to see the child care service in operation. This will also give parents a chance to see how their child responds to the new environment.
  • Watch the children. Are they happy, playing, interacting with teachers, exploring materials or equipment?
  • Watch the caregiver or teacher. Do they look directly at the children and use a normal tone of voice? Do they respond to each child?
  • Visit the kitchen. Look at, or ask to see the menus. Meals should be well balanced and appealing to children. Do the children have regular snacks? What are they?

What to ask at the Interview?


  • how will holidays be handled, theirs and yours
  • what supplies are parents responsible for (diapers, sunscreen, etc.)
  • what is the cost and how often is payment to be made
  • are receipts issued
  • is payment required if the child is ill or on holidays
  • how much notice is required before ending the agreement

Health and Hygiene:

  • what is the ill child policy
  • when is cleaning and housework done
  • are there procedures for administering medications

The Caregiver:

  • how long has this service been provided, and is it intended as long term
  • ask to see credentials, license
  • list of several references (check them)

Safety Features:

  • what is the child/caregiver ratio
  • will additional adults or children be present during lunch, after school
  • what rules and limits are set for the children
  • how would a misbehaving child be dealt with
  • does the caregiver have comprehensive liability insurance in case of an accident
  • are emergency telephone numbers posted
  • what are the emergency and fire procedures
  • are there back up people in place in case the caregiver has an emergency


  • what are the routines, programming
  • are there TV viewing rules
  • are the children taken outside daily
  • what type of activities are available to the children
  • is the outdoor play supervised

What to Look for at the Centre or Home

  • a child-friendly environment
  • a place for each child’s personal belongings
  • furniture arranged in play areas to allow for small areas for privacy
  • an open space to sit comfortably to eat meals and snacks
  • a fully equipped washroom (step stools etc.)
  • toys and play materials placed where the child can make his own selections
  • an area to nap or rest quietly
  • a variety of age-appropriate toys and materials
  • child-sized furniture and equipment
  • accessible and safe outdoor play space
  • a place where a child can be isolated and supervised if ill
  • adequate light
  • carpeted floor that provides a soft, comfortable area to play or sit, and reduces noise
  • diapering area that is disinfected after each use

What Safety Features to Look for

  • children are supervised at all times
  • no dangerous objects (broken bottles, toxic plants)
  • no loose steps, railings, sharp corners
  • outdoor playground or yard is securely fenced
  • electric outlets are secured with safety plugs
  • windows and screens have locks
  • all equipment meets safety standards
  • smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are present
  • the bathroom door lock can be opened from the outside
  • medicine cabinet that locks, and safe storage of cleaning supplies, tools and other hazardous materials
  • the caregiver is certified in CPR and first aid
  • a clean and safe environment
  • all toys and equipment are sanitary and in a good state of repair
  • current criminal reference checks available for anyone over 18 who is normally in the house
  • covers over pipes and radiators

For more information and written resources to help you choose child care call The Child Care Support Line 1-888-703-KIDS (5437).