Home childcare regulations in Ontario are being reviewed and, if changes are made there could be effects on local providers, the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR), and the Prescott and Russell Child Care Agency, which oversees public and registered home daycare services in the region.

The Early Years and Child Care Division of the Ministry of Education is proposing to change two regulations under the Child Care and Early Years Act. Regulation 137/15 would be amended to allow an increase of the child to staff ratio for various age groups at public childcare facilities. For example, three employees per 10 children aged zero to 18 months, up to a maximum of 10 children per facility, is currently required. The proposed change would require one staff member per three children aged zero to twelve months and one staff member per four children aged 12 to 24 months,, up to a maximum number of 12 children per facility. For preschool children aged 30 months to six years, the current staff to children ratio is one to eight with a maximum of 16 children per facility. The new regulation would maintain the one to eight ratios but changes the preschool age category to 24 months to five years and increases the maximum number of children per facility to 24.

The second proposed regulatory change is to the two-provider model for licensed, private, home childcare facilities. The current regulation allows for one licensed home provider to care for up to six children and for an additional provider if regulations provide. The ministry is proposing that two providers be allowed to offer home childcare for a maximum of 10 children and not more than five of those children can be under two years of age. Home childcare agencies will be required to provide training for operators of two-provider facilities, and to develop plans for a situation where one of the two providers is unable to work due to illness or for personal reasons.

UCPR Director of Social Services Sylvie Millette said that the Prescott and Russell Child Care Agency will have to make changes to its own policies and procedures in order to comply with the changes in provincial regulations but there will be very few changes for the actual public child care centres it oversees.

Millette said that allowing two providers in the same home facility is positive because it will allow children to interact with two adults during their day. She said another proposal is to have digital inspection documents so providers can more easily file items with the agency so files can be better kept up to date.

The UCPR is submitting comments to the ministry’s review process. Millette explained that due to there being a shortage of staff and qualified personnel in the UCPR’s licensed facilities, there should be more flexibility regarding the qualifications of childcare workers. Currently, the income threshold for parents to qualify for a childcare subsidy in Ontario is $20,000. Millette said that the amount should be reviewed so childcare is accessible to more families.

Millette said that local childcare providers have not shared any comments on the proposed changes with UCPR and agency staff whom the meet with regularly.