Child Care In Toronto
"How much is child care in Toronto?" is probably the most popular question asked by potential immigrants with kids.
Therefore, I will first answer your question and then explain why. Child care in Toronto fee can be between $0 and $1 600 per month per child. Additional children may or may not be free.
It might sound confusing. Here is how it works.
Types of child care centers in Toronto
You have several options. There are 900 official licensed child care centers (sometimes referred to as day care) in Toronto. And there are licensed home child care agencies that work with some 2000 home daycare providers. (You can find more information here: Toronto child care).
You can also find a live-in nanny who would live in your house, or a regular nanny who could either come to your home to look after your kids every day, or you could bring your kids to her home.
Home child care centers in Toronto are run by individuals licensed to provide child care in Toronto. These daycare centers are usually set up in houses or large basement apartments.
They cannot accept more than 5 children per 1 teacher. Sometimes the women (or men) who run home child care centers hire staff and accept another 5 children, but normally no more than that, as there is no enough room in a house.
Day care centers in Toronto can accept children from a few weeks to 12 years old. These distinctions are approximate:
- Infant- 0-18 months old
- Toddler- 18 months to 3 years old
- Pre-schooler - 2.5-6 years old
- School age - 6-12 years old
Not all day care centers accept children of all ages. Some can only accept preschoolers and school age kids (4-12 years old), others only accept toddlers to preschoolers (18 months to 6 years old).
There are not many day care centers in Toronto that are licensed to work with infants. They are supposed to provide 1 teacher per 3 infants (and the ratio of 1 teacher per preschoolers is the official guideline of the child care in Toronto).
If you have more than one child of different ages, it might be challenging to find a day care center that can accept both of your kids, especially if one of them is an infant. Use this Toronto child care locator for more information.
Child care in Toronto for smaller kids is more expensive than that for older kids. Regular child care prices are approximately the same in Toronto, whether it's a licensed day care center or a home day care provider.
Placing an infant in a child care in Toronto can cost from $900 up to $1200 per month(or more in Downtown Toronto). Toddlers would cost you $800 to $1000. Pre-schoolers - $600-$800. And child care for school age kids would cost $350-450.
IMPORTANT! If your child is absent from the child care in Toronto due to sickness or vacation, you have to pay full amount for every day of absence. There is absolutely no way to negotiate. You are paying for the "place" rather than for them taking care of your child!
For families in need, the city of Toronto provides a child care subsidy. The subsidy is calculated based on your family income. The subsidy can vary from 100% to 10%.
If you get 90% subsidy, it means that you will be paying only 10% of the child care costs, and the Toronto Children Services will cover 90% of your child care costs.
It does not matter how many children you have. If Toronto Children Services decide that your share is $ 20 per day, you will be paying exactly the same amount ($20 per day), whether you place one, two or three children in a child care in Toronto.
That means that the share of the Toronto Children Services will actually be much higher if they pay for three of your kids.
To qualify for the Toronto child care subsidy, you must be employed, self employed, or study. You can work full time, part time, on contract, have a permanent job or be self employed. You must prove that you work or attend school at least 25 hours per week.
You could study anything - English as a second language, or to attend a college or a university. In other words, you must be unavailable to take care of your child in the day time.
Also, both parents must be occupied - if one parent does not work or study, he or she is able to look after the children and therefore the family does not qualify.
How to tell if your family is in need? Here are some rough numbers:
If your family income is:
- under $ 20 000 per year - you pay 0%
- $20 000 to 40 000 - you pay 10%
- $ 40 000-50 000 - you pay 30%
Whether you qualify for a subsidy is usually decided based on your last year's total income after you file your taxes. If does not matter for them how much you are earning right now or how much money you have in your bank account. They are not even checking it. For new immigrants, the subsidy is based on the amount of money you brought in Canada.
To apply for the Toronto child care subsidy, you must call 416-392-5437. You can find more information at the official Toronto Children Services webpage.
After you apply, you have to wait for a long time, sometimes up to a year. As soon as a child care subsidy becomes available, they will call you and make an appointment with you. They will tell you exactly what documents you have to bring to an appointment to prove your eligibility.
Because of the waiting period, Toronto mothers apply for a child care subsidy while they are still pregnant. If you are just moving to Toronto, you should apply for a subsidy as soon as possible, before you find a job. By the time the subsidy becomes available, you will be, most likely, already working.
If you have to place your children in a child care in Toronto before the subsidy if available, you are responsible for covering all the costs. They will not compensate you for the previous months.
Therefore, if you have more than one child, hiring a nanny before you get the subsidy might be a valid alternative. I did hire a nanny for my two children before I received the subsidy, because it was actually cheaper for me.
IMPORTANT! The Toronto child care subsidy is for the residents of the city of Toronto ONLY! If you live in Vaughan, for example, just across the street from Toronto, you do not qualify! If you are not sure whether you are in Toronto or not, check your postal code. It must start with the letter M. If it starts with the letter L - you are not in Toronto, and you need to apply in your city
Which Child care centers in Toronto accept subsidy?
Only official Toronto child care centers and several home child care agencies accept subsidies. If your children attend a home child care center, you have to pay the fees yourself. Certainly, you can place your children in a home child care center in Toronto while you are waiting for a subsidy.
As soon as it becomes available, you can place your children in the official Toronto child care center.
How good is child care in Toronto?
There are many people who are unhappy about child care centers in Toronto, as well as people who are happy. Personally, I think the child care centers are doing what they can in order to provide your children with the best care possible.
Maybe sometimes this can be difficult. In my experience, they are trying to do their best, although I did have a few problems. My two children attended 3 different day care centers in Toronto. They all have their pros and cons.
The most common complaints by parents about child care in Toronto :
- Bad food or no food provided (you have to bring your own food)
- Staff is not attentive to the needs of kids
- Parents don't like the activities in the day care
I can see how some of these opinions can be justified. Here are a few of of the concerns I personally had with 3 child care centers:
- Child care in Toronto #1 - My son was crying a lot and always had a runny nose when I picked him up. They probably didn't wipe the noses of kids all day long.
- Toddlers had to go up and down multiple stairs to go for a walk. Dangerous when so many kids climb stairs with 1 supervising staff!
- Child care #2 - Loved pretty much everything. Except this was a Jewish day care center and they did not give children meat. At all!
- Child care #3 - I like almost everything. Had a couple complaints from my son about one teacher who probably said something not nice to him, but this could be a misunderstanding. It was quickly settled - they called me, explained and apologized. Now he loves that teacher and they are best friends.
What are some activities in child care centers in Toronto?
They play with kids, and teach them. By the time they have to go to school, kids usually are able to read, write and count. By 2 they usually know the alphabet. They do a lot of crafts, they draw and play with play dough. Sometimes they show them cartoons on TV.
Many childcare centers organize various excursions for older kids. They go to parks, libraries, museums or farms. School age kids could go to the zoo or to the Toronto Centre Island. When they go, they ask your written permission. Every child has to wear a bright band or a badge with his or her name, school and a school phone number.
They can go either by school bus or by TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). I usually write MY phone number on my son's arm and instruct him to show it to people if he gets lost, because he did get lost once, but that was with his dad, so child care in Toronto had nothing to do with the incident.
How to choose a good child care in Toronto
Always visit a child care center before you decide to place your child there. This is especially important for home child care centers. They MUST let you in, show you where the kids sleep, eat, play.
They MUST show the menu (if food is provided. Ask to spend the first day or a few hours with your child, to see how the teachers treat the children. Try to talk to parents who already placed their children there.
Child care in Toronto can be scary! I have heard of some home child care centers that did not let parents in. I would never place my children there!. I have a friend who used to work in one home child care center before she decided to start her own.
She told me a few unflattering things about them, one I remember clearly - they wiped all 10 kids with the same paper towel after food! Therefore, make sure you always visit the child care in Toronto before you decide to place your kids there.