A Guide to Child Care in Manitoba

About This Guide
Early Learning and Child Care in Manitoba
Licensed Child Care
Types of Licensed Programs
Licensed Child Care Centres
Licensed Child Care Homes
Health, Safety and Nutrition
Behaviour Management
Daily Program and Curriculum
Including Children with Additional Support Needs
Manitoba Child Care Search
Choosing Quality Child Care
Preparing Your Child for Child Care
Now That Your Child is Enrolled in a Child Care Setting
Applying for Child Care Subsidies
Checklist for Visiting a Licensed Child Care
For More Information

About This Guide

Manitoba is committed to supporting young children and their families by supporting the provision of quality, licensed, play-based early learning and child care (ELCC) programs throughout the province.

This guide will help you:

  • choose the right licensed child care setting for you and your family
  • prepare your child for child care
  • understand ways to be involved with your child care facility

There are many parts of quality programs to think about. This guide will help you understand the different types of facilities available and how child care is licensed and regulated in Manitoba. You will also learn about how to register for child care.

NOTE: See the checklist for visiting a licensed child care below, which includes some ideas of what to look for in a child care facility, as well as questions you may wish to ask caregivers or management.

Because each family is unique, this guide can be used in different ways to suit your own values, preferences and needs. Depending on your family's needs, you may want to choose full-time or part-time care, in a licensed child care centre, child care home or nursery school. The information you gather will help you decide which early learning and child care setting is best for your child and family.

Early Learning and Child Care in Manitoba

Children's early experiences have a deep impact on their brain growth and development. Quality early learning and child care supports children to learn and succeed later in life.

Play-based programs help children learn and develop

Licensed child care settings provide play-based programs because young children learn and develop best through play. During play, children learn social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills such as communication, cooperation, cause and effect, self-regulation, coordination, prediction and many other helpful skills. A quality play-based program allows parents to work, or go to school, knowing their children are receiving the care they need.

Caregivers build relationships with families

In licensed child care facilities, caregivers get to know each child and family and build respectful relationships. Quality early learning and child care celebrates Manitoba's diversity and includes children with additional support needs. A licensed early learning and child care facility is a great place for your child to grow and learn.

For a summary of early learning and child care services in Manitoba, please refer to the document Early Learning and Child Care Services in Manitoba.

Licensed Child Care

The Community Child Care Standards Act

All licensed child care facilities in Manitoba are guided by The Community Child Care Standards Act and its regulations. The Act and regulations define the types of child care that need licensing and set minimum standards facilities must meet in areas such as: supervision, staff qualifications, space, equipment, health and safety, nutrition, programming and behaviour management.

Government Inspections Ensure Standards are Met

Licensed child care facilities are inspected by provincial government staff, on an ongoing basis, to ensure child care standards are met. Supports are also provided to these facilities to improve the quality of early learning and child care (ELCC). For example, best practices provide guidance for ELCC above the minimum standards so facilities can consistently provide high-quality environments and programs to support children's learning and development.

To read the act and regulations, as well as the best practices manuals for licensed child care centres and homes, please refer to the Publications page of our website.

The Government Provides Grants, Subsidies and Sets Maximum Fees

The Government of Manitoba does not operate child care services directly. Instead, it provides operating grants to eligible child care facilities, and sets maximum fee limits for these facilities. However, a licensed child care centre or home can set their own fees if they choose not to receive the government's operating grant. In addition, the government provides subsidies for qualifying families to help pay for child care fees (see below: Applying for Child Care Subsidies). Unfunded facilities cannot charge subsidized families more than the regulated maximum fees. Learn more about maximum fees and subsidies.

Facility Policies

All licensed child care programs have policies to tell you what to expect from their child care program and what their program expects from you. Make sure you understand the facility's policies before your child starts attending child care.

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Types of Licensed Programs

In Manitoba, there are two types of licensed programs available for your child: child care centres and child care homes.

Licensed early learning and child care in centres includes:

  • infant programs
  • full-time preschool programs
  • part-time programs or nursery schools
  • school-age programs

Licensed early learning and child care in homes includes:

  • family child care homes
  • group child care homes

Licensed Child Care Centres

Child care centres typically provide full-time care during the day. Some may provide part-time, evening or weekend care. Centres must meet extra licensing requirements when they provide evening or weekend care.

Full-time Programs:

Infant Programs
Many full-time centres offer child care for infants from three months to two years old. Centres that provide care for infants must meet extra licensing requirements to ensure the health, safety and well-being of very young children.

Preschool Programs
Full-time preschool centres provide care and learning for children from two to six years old.

School-Age Programs
School-age centres provide child care for children from six to 12 years old before and after school. Some school-age centres offer child care at lunchtime as well. School-age centres typically provide full-day care on days there is no school.

Part-Time Centres and Nursery Schools:

Part-time centres and nursery schools provide child care for children up to six years old. These programs usually offer care for two or three hours a day, from two to five days a week.

Some licensed child care centres provide all these types of child care.

Licensed Child Care Homes

In a licensed child care home, the number of children and adults is much less than in a centre. Like child care centres, homes are usually open for full-time care during the day. In some cases, part-time, evening, overnight or weekend care is also available. Home providers must meet extra licensing requirements when they provide evening, weekend or overnight care.

Family Child Care

Family child care is licensed care offered in a home for up to eight children under age 12. No more than five of the children can be under the age of six, and no more than three may be less than two years of age. This includes the provider's own children.

Group Child Care

A group child care home is run by at least two providers in one of their homes. Licensed group child care home providers can care for as many as 12 children under the age of 12. No more than three of the children may be less than two years of age.

Unlicensed Private Home Child Care – What You Should Know

Not all care arrangements are licensed. A person can provide private home child care without a licence, as long as they do not care for more than four children under the age of 12, including no more than two children under the age of two. These numbers include the caregiver's own children. If more than four children receive care, the home must become licensed as a family or group child care home, reduce the number of children receiving care, or close.

For more information please see Unlicensed Private Home Child Care.


There are two types of licences for child care facilities in Manitoba: a regular licence and a provisional licence. A licence may also have an exemption/s.

NOTE: The licence must be posted in the child care facility where it can be seen easily by parents and visitors.

Regular Licence

A regular licence is issued for up to one year. The licence tells you that the facility meets minimum government standards for areas such as supervision, environments, health, safety and behaviour management. The licence shows the maximum number and ages of children that may be cared for at one time.

Provisional Licence

If a centre or a home has a provisional licence, it means there is at least one area that does not meet the required minimum standards. These areas will be written directly on the licence for parents and visitors to see. A provisional licence gives the child care provider an opportunity to work towards meeting all the required standards while remaining open for service. Once the standards have been met, the child care facility may then be eligible for a regular licence.


The licence will also identify any exemptions. If a centre has an exemption, it means the centre does not meet a licensing requirement, but has a plan in place to meet the requirement. For example, if a centre does not have the required number of trained staff, a temporary exemption may be granted if the centre has an approved plan for current staff participating in training.

Licensing Orders – What You Should Know

A licensing order is issued to a licensed child care facility when there is a serious violation of the minimum requirements that requires action immediately. If not corrected, the licence may be suspended or cancelled and the facility may close.

A letter from the Early Learning and Child Care Program will be sent to parents, who have children at the facility, to tell them why a licensing order has been issued. As well, the licensing order must be posted for parents and visitors to see. It will provide details about the changes required to bring the facility back into compliance with the minimum standards, and will include the name and phone number of the facility's child care co-ordinator for more information.

To see any licensing orders currently in effect, as well as a history of licensing orders at facilities that are currently open, please refer to the Licensing Orders page.

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In Manitoba, all early learning and child care staff are classified based on their education before working in licensed child care facilities. A staff member can be classified as a child care assistant (CCA) or an early childhood educator (ECE).

There are two levels of training for early childhood educators (ECEs). An ECE II must have a two-year diploma in early childhood education, or its equivalent. An ECE III must have an approved degree, or must have completed the requirements for an ECE II and have specialized post‑diploma training.

Regulations state the maximum number of children that one staff person at a child care centre may be responsible for (staff-to-child ratio) and the maximum number of children in one group (group size). There are also specific requirements for the number of trained staff working in licensed child care centres (required proportion of trained staff).

Type of Program

Age of Children

Staff:Child Ratio

Maximum Group Size

Required Proportion
of Trained
Staff *

Full Time Centre

12 wks – 2 yrs
2 yrs – 6 yrs




Nursery School

12 wks – 2 yrs
2 yrs – 6 yrs




School Age

6 yrs – 12 yrs




* Trained staff are ECE ll or ECE III.

** Ratio of 1:10 is also for Kindergarten children

In licensed family child care homes, up to eight children may be cared for by one resident adult. In group child care homes, up to 12 children may be cared for by two adults and one of the two adults must reside in the home. These numbers include the providers' own children.

Health, Safety and Nutrition

There are many regulations about health, safety and nutrition in licensed child care programs. Routines such as sleeping, eating and toileting must be provided in a way that supports the safety and healthy development of each child.

Dealing with illness, medications

Facility staff or home providers must follow routine health practices, such as frequent hand washing and sanitizing to limit illnesses. Facilities must promptly notify parents if their child has contracted a communicable illness. If a child has a serious communicable illness, facilities may inform all parents with children attending the facility, while keeping the names of the children private. You may be asked to keep your ill child at home for their own well-being as well as the well-being of the other children in attendance. If staff or home providers agree to give medication to children, they must have permission from the child's parent, and the medication must be stored in a locked location. Child care staff or home providers must have current first-aid training that includes CPR for children.

Safety plan and code of conduct

Every licensed child care facility has an enhanced safety plan and a code of conduct. Safety plans include how to keep children safe, deal with emergencies, respond to threatening behaviours, control and monitor who enters the facility, and care for children with additional support needs or life-threatening allergies. Codes of conduct are guidelines for behaviour of all people, including parents, who are involved with the facility. They explain appropriate behaviour and the consequences of inappropriate behaviour.

Meals and snacks

At a licensed child care facility, a snack must be served to a child who is there for at least three hours. If children are there during a mealtime, they will be served this meal. Food served by facilities must be safe and nutritious. Foods with a low choking potential that meet standards set in Canada's Food Guide are considered appropriate. At some centres or homes, snacks and meals are supplied, but, in other cases, parents will be asked to provide all food for their child. When a facility prepares food for the children, menus are posted for your information.

Behaviour Management

Behaviour management is how staff or home providers limit conflicts and guide children's behaviour. In a quality child care facility, positive guidance strategies are used, which include:

  • providing opportunities for children to build relationships with one another
  • talking and listening to children
  • using encouragement and positive attention
  • offering choices
  • noticing and reinforcing positive behaviour
  • redirecting negative behaviour
  • helping children solve problems together
  • arranging the play space and materials to avoid conflict

Providers encourage a positive, supportive environment

In licensed child care facilities, the behaviour management policy explains what staff or home providers do to create a supportive environment and encourage positive interactions among adults and children. Having a supportive environment, and using positive guidance strategies, help children learn how to respect, and get along with others. Behaviour management policies include realistic expectations of children's abilities and natural, logical consequences for behaviour that help children learn. It is important for facilities to share this information with parents to help develop understanding and consistency between the child's home and child care facility.

Daily Program and Curriculum

The daily schedule for children should be well-planned, balanced, predictable and flexible to help children feel secure. It includes play, snacks and/or meals and nap or rest time. Licensed child care facilities provide outdoor play every day, weather permitting. The daily routine also includes time for individual play, small group play and activities that build children's cognitive, language, social, and small and large muscle development.

The curriculum should be play-based and suit your child's development, abilities, needs and interests. Because licensed facilities provide early learning experiences for children's growth and development during all parts of the program time, families should not need to send their children to multiple programs to receive the benefit of enhanced learning or preparation for school. Manitoba has a curriculum framework for preschool centres, nursery schools, and infant programs called Early Returns that outlines broad beliefs, values and practices that child care centres use to provide quality daily programs. For information about Early Returns, go to the Publications page.

Including Children with Additional Support Needs

All children, regardless of their abilities, have the same opportunity to access licensed child care in Manitoba. All licensed child care programs must include children with additional support needs or special needs. Each facility has an inclusion policy that describes their approach to include children with additional support needs.

Every child matters

Inclusion means children of all abilities are together in a group setting. The goals are to help each child actively participate in the regular program throughout the day and promote positive attitudes for all children and their different abilities. All children should be valued, have friends and feel they belong.

Tell the child care provider if your child has an identified, or diagnosed, additional support need. This way, the program will be better able to meet your child's and family's needs. Support may be available to help eligible child care centres and home providers adapt their environment or program to include children with additional support needs. Children may qualify for assistance in the Inclusion Support Program if they have a physical or cognitive disability, or a behavioural or emotional issue, and need added support to participate meaningfully in the program.

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Manitoba Child Care Search

Use Manitoba Child Care Search to find facilities that meet your needs based on location, hours and availability. Once you find a facility that has an open space and meets your needs, you can contact them directly to inquire about a space or to register on their waitlist.

What are some of the other benefits of the MCCS?

  • An interactive map that makes it easy to browse facilities and find providers near the desired location. Users can filter the map by care type, facility type, vacancies and availability.
  • Expanded facility information to help families make decisions prior to contacting a provider, including contact information, hours of operation, languages of care, highlights of programming, enrollment policies and for-profit versus non-profit status.
  • A link to the facility's licence, so parents can find out if the facility has a licence in good standing or a provisional licence, the maximum number of children allowed at the facility, the period of the licence and any conditions applicable to the facility before making a decision about placement.
  • Information about when the data was last updated, to ensure parents know if the vacancies posted and other programming information is up-to-date.

For help with Manitoba Child Care Search, email MBchildcaresearch@gov.mb.ca.

Choosing Quality Child Care

Choosing the right licensed setting is an important decision for parents and families. You can find quality child care by looking at how providers care for children, and by asking questions about the facility's practices, refer to: Checklist for Visiting a Licensed Child Care.

All early learning and child care settings should be safe, and caregivers should be able to tell you how they ensure the well-being of the children in their care. It is important for you and your child to feel comfortable in the setting. When you visit a licensed child care facility, pay attention to what you see and hear from children and adults in the program. First impressions can tell you a lot. Consider your values, beliefs and needs for child care.

Preparing Your Child for Child Care

Before your child starts child care, think about how you will get him or her ready for the new experience. Keep in mind that some children settle into a new routine quickly and others take longer.

Tell your child about the program. Talk about the activities, toys, daily routine and caregivers, to help your child feel more secure and prepared. Talk about who will take him or her to child care and back home, and when this will happen, in a way that your child will understand.

Help your child feel positive about new surroundings

Visit the licensed facility with your child before he or she begins going regularly. Your child will feel more secure being there without you, if it is already a familiar place. Let your child see where the children play, eat, sleep and go to the washroom. Show him or her that it is a fun and safe place to be. Encourage your child to play with the other children and join in activities. Help your child get comfortable and then try to step back, so he or she can adjust to the new surroundings.

Share information about your child with the caregivers, such as likes and dislikes, sleeping and eating habits, ways to comfort your child, interests, and any other information you think may be helpful. This preparation will help ease your child and family through the transition period, until going to child care becomes a regular and fun part of life.

Now That Your Child Is Enrolled in a Child Care Setting

It may help you and your child if you set up a daily ritual of saying good-bye before you leave for the day. You can also remind your child who will pick them up, and at what time. It is helpful for your child and the caregivers if you can be consistent (have the same person pick up the child at the same time each day), especially at first.

Communicate with caregivers

It is important to take time to build a relationship with your child's caregivers by talking with the centre director, staff or home provider. You may choose to call the facility to find out how your child is doing throughout the day. Feel free to ask lots of questions about what is happening in the program and about your child's development and learning.  Ask about visiting your child and how you might get involved in the program. If you have any concerns about your child, talk to the providers or the facility management.

Communicate with your child

Each day, talk to your child about how the day went. Pay attention to how your child feels during drop-off and pick-up times, and how you think he or she is adjusting to child care. Take an interest in what your child does every day.

Read the facility's policies and ask questions if you do not understand. Find out what is expected of you. You should always be able to talk to a provider or supervisor/director if you have any questions or concerns.

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Applying for Child Care Subsidies

Licensed child care centres and homes may care for children whose fees are subsidized by the provincial government. All licensed child care facilities, whether or not they receive an operating grant, charge the same amount to families who receive subsidies.

When applying for a child care subsidy, it is important to have all required information available. You must indicate the name of the child care facility where your child is, or will be, enrolled and the date that they were, or will be, enrolled. You can ask your child care facility how to apply for subsidy when you enroll your child.

Find out if you're eligible

To be eligible for subsidized early learning and child care, parents must meet financial criteria and give a reason for needing child care services. Reasons include a job, looking for a job, attending training or school, medical needs or special needs. Although financial criteria must be met, a reason for service is not required for families (including those with a stay-at-home parent), who use nursery school services.

A subsidy pays for part of the daily fee charged by child care facilities. The Child Care Subsidy Program will let you know, in writing, if you qualify for a subsidy, and how much your part of the fee will be. You are only responsible to pay for your portion of the fee, as the subsidy amount will be paid directly to the child care facility on your behalf.

Checklist for Visiting a Licensed Child Care

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Print the Checklist for Visiting a
Licensed Child Care

For More Information

For more information about child care or financial assistance for child care fees, please contact Child Care Information Services at 204-945-0776, toll-free 1-888-213-4754 or email cdcinfo@gov.mb.ca.

Early Learning and Child Care Program 210-114 Garry Street, Winnipeg MB R3C 4V4

Email: cdcinfo@gov.mb.ca

Phone: 204-945-0776 Toll-free: 1-888-213-4754 Fax: 204-948-2625 TTY: 204-945-3724

Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m