Bright from the Start: Durham Region's childcare and learning
Children from 0 to 12 years old need to be cared for by someone other than their parents or immediate family. The parents may have to work or attend school, or may want their child to play and learn with other children. Childcare, also called 'daycare', can provide this service for children and families.
Durham Region has a variety of childcare arrangements available to parents including nursery schools, play schools, childcare centres, and licensed or informal home childcare. When childcare is licensed, it meets certain health and safety standards established by the government. Although there are many more options available to suit different needs, it is important that you consider the selection available to you carefully and choose the type of care that best meet the needs of both you and your child.
If you require care for your children so that you can go to work, Durham Region has a variety of child care options available. It is important that you choose the type of care that best meet the needs of both you and your child. The following is a brief description of each program to help you in making your choice:
Nursery School / Playschools
A nursery school is a program that enrolls children from 2 ½ years up to and including five years of age, for a half day (2 ½ hours) on more than one day in a week. Nursery Schools usually operate for 10 months of the year. Their focus is to provide a learning environment where emphasis is often placed on social skills and preschool development. They must hold a valid license in order to operate in the community. Subsidy is available through the municipality to those who are eligible.
Child Care Centres
A child care centre provides full day and/or part day child care usually for all 12 months of the year. The hours of care and enrolment age of the children will vary depending upon each individual centre. Child care centres are designed primarily to meet the needs of students and/or working parents. A child care centre must meet standards set by the Day Nurseries Act (DNA) regarding staff/child ratios, program and staff qualifications, safety, behaviour management and nutrition. They must hold a valid license in order to operate in the community. Subsidy is available through the municipality to those who are eligible.
Licensed Home Child Care
Home child care is the provision of care for no more than 5 children in a private residence. The Home Child Care Agency is licensed under the Day Nurseries Act. This program often proves to be more flexible in the hours of care available and in meeting the needs of children newborn through school age. The care givers or providers as they are called are screened and trained by the Home Child Care Agency. Subsidy is available through the municipality to those who are eligible.
Unlicensed or Informal Child Care
This is care provided by a relative, friend or neighbour or by a private caregiver. There is no license required for this service and there is no professional supervision. Legally, unlicensed caregivers are permitted to care for a maximum of 5 child care children. Subsidy is not usually available for this type of child care.
For more information about child care services in Durham, contact:
Region of Durham, Department of Social Services, Children's Services Division
605 Rossland Rd. E.
Whitby, ON L1N 6A3
905-666-6238 or 1-800-387-0642.
For help choosing an option for child care services, visit:
Child Care Fee Assistance:
Financial assistance for child care is available to eligible families in Durham Region. To apply, Parents/Guardians must be: working, attending school, an Ontario Works recipient participating in an approved activity, or, have a child with special needs.
To apply, contact the Region of Durham, Department of Social Services, Children’s Services Division at:
605 Rossland Rd. E.
Whitby, ON L1N 6A3
905-666-6238 or 1-800-387-0642
Children's Services Website
For other information on paying for child care, visit: