Durham Region is home to a number of high-quality, reliable licensed child care programs. With more than 300 licensed child care centres, Montessori programs, nursery schools and six home child care agencies, there are a variety of programs to choose from! This article aims to help Grandview Kids’ families make an informed decision when selecting an inclusive and welcoming child care program for their child.
Here are five tips on finding inclusive child care in the Durham Region
1. Find the type of child care that’s right for you
There are different forms of licensed child care available in the Durham Region. These include licensed child care centres and before and after-school programs, Montessori schools, nursery schools and licensed home child care. Each type of child care has its own benefits including a variety of operating hours, qualified registered early childhood educators, part-time or full-time attendance. Programs must adhere to regulations overseen by the Ministry of Education and follow How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s pedagogy for the early years. Licensed programs are monitored annually.
Unlicensed child care also has regulations by the Ministry, including the number of children allowed in a provider’s home. Unlicensed child care Is not monitored as closely as licensed programs. Learn more by visiting the Ministry of Education’s types of child care webpage.
2. See if you qualify for child care fee subsidy
The Durham Region Children’s Services Division, Child Care Fee Subsidy Program helps families, who live in the Durham Region, with the daily cost of licensed child care. To be eligible, parents/caregivers need to be working, going to school, have a special or social need (yourself as the parent or your child) or be receiving Ontario Works. The Children’s Services Division has created an online Fee Subsidy Calculator, which uses your annual household income to estimate how much child care would cost when receiving fee subsidy. Learn more about Child Care Fee Subsidy and its application process; there is currently no wait time for eligible families. Families can receive care based on the date that care is required.
3. Search for licensed child care in your area
Using the Child Care Directory or the Children’s Program Locator interactive map, you can search for licensed homechild care agencies, child care centres and before-and-after school programs in your neighbourhood. The Children’s Services Division has created a video tutorial to help you find child care in your area. The Directory and Program Locator will provide information on the provider’s website, age groups offered, hours of operation, if child care fee subsidy is accepted, and if the building is accessible.
4. Speak with educators about supports available for children with special needs
In the Durham Region, licensed child care programs have the opportunity to enter into an agreement with the Children’s Services Division, which provides the provider to access funds from the Ministry of Education. This is called a Purchase of Service Agreement. Each provider must uphold quality standards known as the Durham Region Operating Criteria, including having an inclusivity statement. As such, providers with a Purchase of Service Agreement are connected to a network of Special Needs Resourcing (SNR) agencies. This network includes:
- Early Learning Inclusion Consultants (ELI) and funds for Enhanced Staffingfrom Resources for Exception Children and Youth, Durham Region.
- Durham Behaviour Management Services.
- Surrey Place Blind Low-Vision program.
- Durham Health Infant and Child Development program.
- Grandview Kids’ Preschool Outreach Program.
Each licensed child care program will work with caregivers and children with special needs to formulate an Individual Support Plan (ISP). This plan will help your child transition into care, receive supports to help them fully participate in the activities offered in the program, and enjoy their time with peers and educators.
Unlicensed child care providers are not able to apply for a Purchase of Service Agreement. This means, unlicensed providers are not monitored by the Durham Region Operating Criteria and do not have the same access to SNR agencies.
5. Ask questions
Choosing a child care program can be a difficult decision. Here are some questions that you can ask the supervisors/directors when choosing the best child care for your child:
- Is your home licensed with the Ministry of Education?
- Is your centre required to follow Durham Region Operating Criteria for quality assurance?
- What are the qualifications and training of the educators?
- What does a typical day look like?
- Do the educators have experience working with children with special needs?
- Does your home or centre have access to SNR services?
- How do you include children with special needs in your programming?
- Are educators trained in first aid or emergencies?
- How can I help support my child’s needs while at child care?
For a comprehensive list of questions, check out the Ministry of Education’s common questions to ask a child care provider online tip sheet.
For Support to find child care placements, families can contact:
Resources for Exceptional Children and Youth, Durham Region, Access Coordinators – Sue or Kristen at 905 427-8862 extension 504.
This blog was written in partnership with The Regional Municipality of Durham, Children’s Services Division. The Children’s Services Division is responsible for planning, funding and managing the early learning and child care sector in the Durham Region. For more information, please visit the Children’s Services Division website.
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