If you like little ones, running a child care centre can be a lot of fun. Before opening your doors, though, you need to ensure you’re compliant with local regulations. The rules vary from province to province, so to help you prepare, here’s an overview of the main safety requirements.
Before launching, you may need to obtain a business license from your province, though the exact requirements depend on where you live. In Alberta, for instance, you need a license if you care for seven or more children who aren’t your own. In contrast, Ontario requires you to obtain a license if you care for more than five children over the age of 2 or more than two children under the age of 2. You may need a municipal license as well.
First Aid Certification
With children, accidents are inevitable, and you need to be ready to respond when an injury occurs. While there’s no federal requirement for child care workers to be first-aid-certified, many provincial laws require it. Ontario only requires you to have a valid certificate if you care for children with special needs, but in Alberta you always need first aid certification. That said, you may want to ensure that both you and your staff are certified in first aid, even if it’s not required by law. Parents want their children to be safe, so first aid certification is a good marketing hook.
Taking care of children is a lot of fun, and you can relive the magic of childhood through this job. However, child care is also a special skill, which is why some provinces require you to meet certain educational requirements. For instance, in New Brunswick, you or your designate must have a one-year Early Childhood Education certificate or the equivalent. As you hire staff in this province, one out of four of them need this level of training.
Employee Background Screening
In addition to your employees’ educational histories, you need to double-check their criminal histories. Background screening is required in most provinces, including New Brunswick and Manitoba. But to safeguard your business’s reputation, you should always do a criminal background check before hiring new employees, whether it’s required or not.
As you make your business plans, find out if your province or territory requires a staff-to-child ratio. This gives you a better idea of how many employees you need to hire and what you need to charge your clients to cover your payroll expenses. Note that the ratios vary depending on the age of the children in your care.
For instance, in Alberta you need one caretaker for every infant under 12 months of age, but the ratio goes up to 1:4 for children from 12 to 19 months. For 4- and 5-year-old children, you only need one caretaker for every 10 children in Alberta. Many provinces also cap the total number of children you can have in any one group, regardless of how many caretakers are on site.
To be on the safe side, look at your province’s child care safety requirements as early as possible. You can let these rules guide you as you go forward, increasing your chances of business success and helping the process run more smoothly.