The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is launching a new website which will enable parents to look for licensing violations and conditions on licenses for licensed child care centres in Ontario.
While the website includes fact sheets for parents on questions to ask in finding child care, the database does not include detailed information on operators – specifically whether they are for-profit commercial operators or child care run by non-profit organizations and municipal governments.
One of the most important indicators of quality is whether the operator is a not-for-profit organization or municipal government.
Because 85% of money in child care centres is spent on staff, for-profit commercial operators are less likely to employ trained staff and the staff are less likely to have professional development.
All child care centres must abide by the Province’s Day Nursuries Act which sets out minimum standards for qualified staff and minimum standards for staff-children ratios. Many not-for profit and municipal child care centres exceed the standards set out in the Day Nursuries Act.
Research has shown that overall there are significant differences in quality between commercial for-profit child care and non-profit and public child care. A recent national study “An Economic Perspective on the Current and Future Role of Non-Profit Provision of Early Learning and Child Care Services in Canada” found the same conclusions as other studies – that on average, child care centres are better quality when run by non-profit organizations or municipal governments.
“If the purpose is transparency and parent education, failing to include whether an operator is a commercial for-profit business or run by a non-profit organization or municipal government is a glaring omission for parent education. Non-profit and public child care is one of the most important indicators of quality” said Andrea Calver, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.