Child Care TYPES

A basic overview of the different types of child care programs available in Alberta plus gaining a deeper understanding of licensed vs unlicensed programs.

Topic Last Updated: September 2022

In Alberta, there are 2 main types of child care.

Home Based

Home based child care is care offered in a residential environment and can care for only 6 children NOT including their own. This type of care includes both licensed and unlicensed dayhomes, nannies, babysitters and family.

Facility Based

Facility based child care is care offered in a commercial environment and are programs that care for more than 6 children. This type of care includes daycare, out of school care, and preschool care.

The laws and regulations for child care in alberta

Child care in Alberta is regulated through the Child Care Licensing Act and Regulation. These two documents lay out the legislation in place that governs child care programs in the province and the regulations that enforce it. 

did you know?

Not all child care in Alberta is regulated by the provincial government.

Licensed vs Unlicensed programs

Licensed child care programs have a variety of standards and requirements they must meet. These standards address a set of program requirements like space, meals, programming, ratios and policies and procedures.

The Child Care Licensing Act and Regulation is enforced by Licensing Officers that are employed through Children’s Services. These officers make regular inspections of all licensed child care programs including facility-based and in-home.

If a child care program is found to be in violation of the child care standards, licensing officers have a variety of avenues they can take to address the situation. For minor infractions, the child care program may be issued a warning with a set plan in place to help them rectify the non-compliance giving the program time to correct the issue before licensing does a follow-up inspection.

For serious incidents or incidents that were not rectified after a warning was issued, licensing officers can choose to revoke a child care license either permanently or temporarily.

Any citations issued by a licensing officer can be found online through the Government of Alberta website.

Unlicensed programs are predominantly private dayhomes, however, there are certain day camps and on-site child care programs (like those found in gyms and rec centers) that are not required to hold a child care license as per the Child Care Licensing Act & Regulation.

Unlicensed child care programs are not monitored or regulated by the Government of Alberta. Each unlicensed program is responsible for drafting and enforcing its own policies and procedures as it pertains to its child care business and how they choose to run it.

The only legislation in place for unlicensed child care programs is that they cannot care for more than 6 children (not including the provider’s own custodial children).

However, there are a few exemptions for a set few types of child care programs that are not required to hold a license – regardless of how many children are present.

Under the Early Learning and Child Care Act, the following program types are not required to hold a license:

  • group homes, foster homes or other residential care settings
  • programs or services provided under the Education Act
  • day camps, vacation camps or other recreational programs that are operated for less than 12 consecutive weeks in any 12-month period
  • supervision of children at a recreational facility, retail center or other commercial establishments where the parents of the children remain on the premises and are immediately available

There are no regulations that speak to the specific ages of the children in an unlicensed program. 

To gain a deeper understanding of the difference between licensed and unlicensed programs and to learn more about unlicensed care in Alberta, you can check out our comprehensive PARENT GUIDE

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