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The Ins and Outs of Daycare in British Columbia

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What Is Daycare?

Daycare is a safe place for parents to leave their child so they can pursue work, errands, along with other activities. While the child is in daycare they have access to toys, and a variety of fun activities that help them gain skills.

A daycare is proven to be helpful to a child's development in many ways, while also giving the parent(s) time and freedom to do the things they need to do.

Unlicensed Versus Licensed


An unlicensed daycare is only able to look after 1 or 2 children that are not related by blood or marriage.

To the best of my knowledge there are no governing bodies that monitor these types of daycares. It is at the parents discretion to leave their children in the care of such facilities.


A licensed daycare is able to look after as many children as their business licence allows. This is decided by a licensing officer whom looks at the space and determines how many children are able to safely occupy the space.

These daycares are monitored by licensing officers that do visits to check up on complaints, to ensure if they noticed something unsafe (such as uncovered electrical outlets) that it gets fixed. They must ensure that that staff that work in these locations are qualified by a certification process, and that they have a clear criminal background check. These daycares also must follow the teacher to child ratio. Infants/toddlers is one teacher to four children. The 3-5 age group, and school-aged group is one teacher to eight children.

If you would like to learn more about different types of unlicensed daycares, or licensed daycares, you can go to this site which is run by the Government of British Columbia.

A Break Down

A daycare is generally broken down into age groups. They range for infant - 0 to 1 year, toddler - 1 to 2 years, 3 to 5 - 3 years to 5 years, school-aged - 5 years to 12 years, and multi-age which covers all of these areas.

Teachers are there to watch and teach the children in various ways. Being licensed teachers they have knowledge on different techniques on guiding the children in areas such as sharing, making friends, and essentially the "rights and wrongs". Teachers are in charge of education on a smaller scale such as planning activities that stimulate socialization, creativity, literacy, large and small motor movements, learning emotions, math and science principles.

It is known that people make mistakes, get lazy, and don't always follow the rules. It is your job as a parent, guardian, grandparent, or even a TEACHER to make sure if you see something suspicious, are concerned about the operations in the daycare, or witness mistreatment that you report it to the powers that be. That power is the licensing board which has control over whether the daycare is able to keep it's licence and if the daycare needs to adjust its staff or equipment (toys, furniture, playground). If it is found that a teacher(s) is being negligent, abusive, or inappropriate, their license may be suspended and will be under investigation. Depending on circumstances, the daycare may be subject to this as well.

If you would like to learn more about the rules of operating a daycare, please check out this link which is run by the Government of British Columbia.

How Do You Know They're Licensed?

The Daycare

Most businesses generally have a business licence located somewhere on the wall in view of the public. If a daycare you're thinking of enrolling in does not have it up, or you are not sure where it is, you can ask the daycare owner or manager. (It is to the best of my knowledge that the business licence must be located in clear view for the purpose of licensing standards.) The business licence should clearly state the owner/operator of the daycare, the address the business is located, as well as the name of the business (daycare's name).

I would advise if the daycare owner or manager gets flustered, angry, or confused by the question that you take your business elsewhere. The reason I say this is simply due to the high amount of daycares that try to operate outside of the rules. However if you have a good vibe, and feel that it is a quality place, it is ultimately your choice to make that decision.

The Teachers

Teachers are licensed individually after completing various certification programs. There are three licence areas: Infant/Toddler, Three to Five, and Exceptionalities (which covers children with disabilities).

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A teacher does not require ALL of these licences in order to teach in a daycare setting, however they must have at least one that pertains to the type of children in their care.

The Three to Five licence is a prerequisite to get either their Infant/Toddler, and/or their Exceptionalities. A teacher should have their license clearly displayed on the wall (again it is to the best of my knowledge that this is a licensing standard) if you can't see it, you can ask. On the license it will state the full name of the teacher, the type(s) of licence they have which will show what age groups they are able to look after. It will also state when the license was issued and when it expires (YES they most certainly do expire). They will also have an individual license number which you can look up to check the validity of the license.

You can check the validity of a teachers licence at this link.

Sample Licences

A sample of a daycare business licence.

A sample of a daycare business licence.

A sample of a teacher's licence. Infant/Toddler, and Exceptionalities are optional unless this teacher is looking after children in either of those categories.

A sample of a teacher's licence. Infant/Toddler, and Exceptionalities are optional unless this teacher is looking after children in either of those categories.

What To Do If You Have A Complaint

If you think a child is being abused or neglected, you have the legal duty to report your concern to a child welfare worker. Phone 1 800 663-9122 any time.

You can contact the ECE Registry to make a complaint about a certified early childhood educator or an institution offering a recognized ECE program. All complaints are given serious consideration.

It is extremely important to report your concerns instead of looking the other way or pulling your child out of that daycare. If you don't take the time something serious may happen to your child, or someone else's child.

The following sites you will be able to report both abuse/neglect and a early childhood educator, as well as see how this process works.


Many of the sources I used in this article can be found on the Government of British Columbia's website. However due to the sheer amount of information this website covers, I narrowed down the more important links for the sake of easy access. These also can be found within the article.

Government Of British Columbia's Home Page

Licensed VS Unlicensed

Rules for Operating A Licensed Daycare

Checking The Validity of a Teacher's Licence

Reporting Child Abuse

Investigation Process

Most of the information comes from my own personal education and early childhood education training and experience in the field.

I hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions please comment and I can try to contact you to answer your questions. Thanks for reading!


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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