The Ontario government has announced reforms to before and after school programs to support working families and improve child care options.
“The changes we are announcing today are important as they will help ensure working parents can return to the workforce as we make progress containing the pandemic,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “We are making child care more affordable for parents, improving safety for children, and reducing red tape for child care operators.
Lecce noted access to affordable programs is limited. For instance, before and after school programs delivered by non-profits like the Boys and Girls Club are restricted to operating no more than three hours per day, limiting the ability for these programs that are often lower cost to serve working parents.
The minister added the government is committed to doing everything it can to reduce the burden on parents during the pandemic.
The changes, which take effect on March 8, will:
- Exempt certain authorized recreational providers from their three-hour operating limit, improving access to select before and after school programs for families with school-age children.
- Enhance health and safety protections in licenced child care settings, such as requirements to support contact tracing by local public health, new requirements for home-based child care and updates to the safe storage of potentially poisonous and hazardous items.
- Reduce regulatory/administrative burden on child care operators by removing redundant and unnecessary requirements for all providers. These include the removal of duplicate requirements related to the collection of children’s emergency contact information, allowing records and documents required by the regulation to be kept in digital format, and no longer requiring licensees to seek ministry approval for children 44 months and up to bring their own meals from home.
banner image via Atrium Health