What role does the City of Ottawa play in Child Care and Early Learning?

    The City of Ottawa, through the Children’s Services service area, is responsible for the planning and management of licensed child care and early years programs and services for children from 0 to 12 years old in Ottawa. This includes: 

    • Setting a strategic roadmap to ensure services are responsive to the needs of families 
    • Supporting child care and early years service providers in licensed centres, homes and schools 
    • Supporting Ottawa EarlyON Child and Family Centres to offer free, high-quality programs for families and children from birth to 6 years old
    • Administering the child care fee subsidy program
    • Managing the Child Care Registry and Waitlist
    • Implementing the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Program
    • Plan and implement child care and early years programs and services  

    What is the Child Care and Early Years Service System Plan?

    The Service System Plan (SSP) establishes the foundation and road map for building a system of early learning and child care services in Ottawa that focuses on increased access, affordability, quality and inclusion (formerly referred to as “responsiveness”). The plan acts as the guide for priorities, actions, and system improvements benefiting children and families and responding to local needs across the city of Ottawa.

    Why is the City reviewing the Child Care and Early Years Service System Plan now?

    The previous SSP was approved by City Council for 2019-2023 and is now being updated for 2024-2028, as required by the Province. These updates are important to ensure we are responding to local needs and strengthening the local child care and early years system to ensure children get the best start in life.

    Since the approval of the 2019-2023 plan, the Province has updated their guiding priorities to include a fifth element: Data and Reporting. This will help ensure that CMSMs’ work is guided by evidence-based decisions. The Province has also renamed Responsiveness to Inclusive to better reflect the goals.

    How can I get involved in the Child Care and Early Years Service System Plan update?

    The City of Ottawa is interested in hearing from those with experience using licensed child care and/or early years programming in Ottawa, those who may currently be waiting for a space, and families who may seek care for their children in the future. Currently, the City is conducting a survey to collect feedback from residents. Those looking to learn more can also email ChildrensServices@ottawa.ca.

    How will my feedback contribute to the Child Care and Early Years Service System Plan?

    All of the feedback received will be reviewed and analyzed to provide Children’s Services with a broader understanding of the child care and early years community’s perspectives, needs, and concerns. Community input ensures that decisions related to the SSP are well-informed and take into account a diverse range of experiences.

    Where will I be able to find the Child Care and Early Years Service System Plan once it’s final and complete?

    Once the SSP has been approved by Community Services Committee and City Council, it will be shared with the Province and posted to the City of Ottawa Children’s Services Website – Ottawa.ca/ChildCare

    What is the Canada Wide and Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) program?

    The Canada Wide Early Learning and Child Care program (often referred to as CWELCC or the National Child Care system) is a Federal Government plan, to which the Province of Ontario has signed on to, to reduce the cost of child care to an average of $10 per day for eligible families by 2026. More information can be found here.

    How will the Child Care and Early Years Service System Plan help increase access to CWELCC spaces?

    The SSP is a guiding document that helps inform all stakeholders on how the early years and child care system works in Ottawa. This includes SSP strategic priorities that are data driven and evidenced based and an equity and inclusion lens helps inform our operational strategies.

    While the Province has provided a limited number of new CWELCC spaces available for Ottawa between now and 2026, Children’s Services has created a directed growth strategy that is in line with the Provincial Access and Inclusion Framework. While the Province is ultimately responsible for the allocation of CWELCC-funded spaces, the SSP helps determine what our local priorities are and how we can achieve them within the Provincial funding and guidance frameworks. Staff are working to create 2,903 additional spaces in Ottawa by 2026 and prioritizing supports to communities and populations most in need and that face various systemic barriers.

    How can I find a child care space for my child?

    Those looking to register and apply for a space at a licensed centre or home should visit the City of Ottawa’s Apply for Child Care webpage to learn more about the Child Care Registry and Waitlist. The Ottawa Child Care Registry and Waitlist is an online application for families looking for licensed child care. Families can:

    • Choose from home-based care, centre-based care, school care and or nursery/pre-school care.
    • Apply for full fee (Registry) or fee subsidy (Waitlist) by completing just one application
    • Find the list of providers that are participating in the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) System.

    Who can I contact if I have more questions about the Child Care and Early Years Service System Plan or Child Care in the City of Ottawa?