Welcome to YMCA Child Care

Last updated on February 26, 2024

Welcome to YMCA of Greater Toronto Child Care. Each year thousands of families trust the YMCA to be a place where their children are safe and supported while they grow and develop to reach their full potential. The YMCA Mission, Vision, and Core Values are the driving principles that guide us to create environments that are welcoming, respectful, and provide positive experiences for children and their families.

The Parent Handbook outlines important information that will provide you with what you need to know while your child is in our care. We look forward to getting to know you and your child and to embarking on a partnership that supports you to be informed, consulted, and involved in your child’s YMCA child care program.

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Before & After School Programs


About us

The YMCA of Greater Toronto is a charitable organization that has been providing high-quality licensed child care and education for children 0–12 years of age for over 50 years. Today the YMCA operates programs in more than 300 locations, 113 of which are full-day child care centres.

The YMCA of Greater Toronto has a well-established, research based approach to early learning. Our curriculum YMCA Playing to Learn™ has been successfully implemented in our child care programs for children 0–6 years old since 2000. In 2006, YMCA Playing to Learn™ was adopted by the YMCA of Canada as a national curriculum and is now implemented in over 300 child care programs across Canada.

YMCA Playing to Learn™ second Edition was published in 2015. This expanded edition builds on the original curriculum and includes the most current research on the social and emotional development of young children. It features additional learnings for YMCA Early Childhood Educators, to increase their knowledge of caring for infants and toddlers.

In 2009, YMCA A Place to Connect™ curriculum for 5–12 year olds was launched and fully implemented in YMCA of Greater Toronto early learning and before and after school programs.

The goals and approaches of both YMCA curricula align in philosophy, standards and recommendations from the Ontario Ministry of Education framework including; Minister of Education’s Policy Statement on Programming and Pedagogy, “How Does learning Happen?” Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years and Early Learning for Every Child Today. For more information about the YMCA Child Care goals and approaches to supporting children and their families please visit

program info

Program Statement

Our program statement describes how our programs support and foster early learning. It outlines our view of the child, our philosophy and curriculum as well as the goals and approaches used to ensure healthy child development. It also outlines how we evaluate our programs to maintain quality and how we support the professionals who work with children.

Our View of the Child

Every child is special in the eyes of their parents and those who love them. The children in our care are also special to us. As educators of young children, we know that each child is an individual of great human worth and potential. Every child is different in their looks, their growth patterns, their genetic make-up, their previous experience, the way they think and in every aspect of what makes them human beings. We appreciate each child’s uniqueness and view the child’s growth and development occurring in a holistic manner. At the YMCA we understand that children learn through play. Play, by definition, is enjoyable, spontaneous, active, and undertaken without external goals and sanctions. This means children are self-learners and do not require an adult to choose what or how they should learn. When a child’s natural activity of play is supported by caring and responsive professionals in positive, developmentally-appropriate learning environments, their competency, capacity, curiosity and potential will be maximized.

YMCA Playing to Learn™ is a wonderful, academically sound, and highly accessible document. At the heart is a view of children, teachers and parents as capable and competent. This is one document that will be highly valued in the field, not just sitting on a shelf."

- Jean M. Clinton, BMus MD FRCP(C), Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University.

YMCA Curriculum

The YMCA of Greater Toronto has a well-established, research based approach to early learning. Our curriculum YMCA Playing to Learn™ has been successfully implemented in all programs for children 0–6 since 2000. In 2006, all YMCAs across Canada adopted this curriculum. YMCA Playing to Learn second edition was published in 2015. This edition incorporates new research, best practices, knowledge and experience.

There is more information on infants and toddlers and it has a greater focus on the social and emotional development of the young child. The YMCA of Greater Toronto launched our school age curriculum, A Place to Connect™ for children 5–12 in 2009. The national roll-out of this curriculum began in January 2016. The YMCA has been involved in shaping the development of the provincial early learning framework by sharing YMCA Playing to Learn™ and our training materials to support educators in implementing a play-based approach.

The goals and approaches of the YMCA curricula align in philosophy, standards, and recommendations with the provincial frameworks below. It is gratifying to see Ontario's Ministry of Education embrace play and adopt a very similar approach.

How Does Learning Happen: Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years

Building on How Does Learning Happen

Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT)

Our Statement on Play

Each child can reach his or her full human potential through play. Our intention is to provide the best possible environment that allows the best possible play for all children in our care. We endeavour to meet the play needs of all children and must do whatever possible to support the natural urge to play. Play helps a child to be both engaged with everyday realities and to be absorbed in an ecstatic self-forgetfulness. It ensures involvement, enjoyment, and various forms of success. Play can be powerful or profound, but it is always purposeful. Play is a vehicle that propels learning and development. Play and development are intertwined; neither precedes the other. All domains of development are supported by play, and play has the additional benefit of being self-initiated and therefore a joy rather than a chore. Play makes discovery pleasurable, but it also propels a child into the vast realm of learning. Play provides a way for children to be healthy in body, mind and spirit.

Play fosters skill development. It offers opportunities for gaining new skills as well as refining existing ones. Play is directly linked to the child’s learning. His or her cognitive development and academic success are enhanced by the play experience. Play is physical and increases activity levels, fitness, balance, gross motor skills and fine motor actions. A wide range of scientific, mathematical, perspective-taking and other cognitive processes in discovery and other types of play. Play is social and aids in language learning while supporting social skills development. Self-concepts and emotions are better understood through play, as is the building of emotional intelligence. Important self-regulatory skills may be acquired and reinforced through play.

Play builds resilience and can help children manage stress. There are often therapeutic benefits to play. Typically, children direct their play in ways that address their own socioemotional issues.

The YMCA’s Playing to Learn™ is a curriculum guide built on the importance and value of play for young children. The document makes, and backs up, arguments of why and how children’s play is essential to the healthy social, physical and cognitive development of all children.”

- Martha Friendly, Executive Director of the Childcare Resources and Research Unit

Before & After School Programs

Curriculum Goals & Approaches

Promoting health, safety, nutrition & well-being

Keeping children healthy and safe is a priority at the YMCA and we understand that the wellbeing of their child is a parent’s number 1 concern. Therefore, we have developed comprehensive, research-based procedures to support children.

Supporting relationships

At the YMCA we understand that young children flourish in all areas of development when they are in positive and responsive relationships with adults. YMCA educators build a foundation of trust with children by being available, sensitive, responsive, and caring. YMCA educators create an inclusive and respectful environment to foster positive, equitable, and collaborative relationships. When children feel safe, secure, valued and a contributing member of their world they are able to explore, discover, try new things, grow, learn and develop. To support each child’s care, growth and development YMCA educators interact and communicate with parents on a daily basis sharing observations, documentations, and reflections.

Encouraging children to interact, communicate, & self-regulate

The YMCA believes that it is the role of the adult in a child’s life to support them to learn how to interact effectively with the world around them including other children, adults, and the environment.
Stuart Shanker, Canada’s leading expert on self-regulation, defines self-regulation as the ability to manage your own energy states, emotions, behaviours, and attention in ways that are socially acceptable and help achieve positive goals such as maintaining good relationships, learning, and maintaining well-being.

“Caring, consistent relationships with adults provide external supports that serve as the basis for developing self-regulation.”

- (Gillespie & Seibel 2006)

Some of the YMCA educators’ approaches to positive interactions among children include:

  • Providing small group experiences that allow for more one-on-one adult attention
  • Modeling inclusive, respectful, and collaborative interactions with children and other adults
  • Creating a flexible learning environment that allows educators to respond in the moment and build on or scaffold the children’s interests
  • Making toys, equipment, and materials available to children at all times and giving them the freedom to choose
  • Playing with children to demonstrate prosocial skills, including promoting discussion, problem-solving when conflict arises, and understanding how their actions affect others
  • Staying up to date with educator training on self-regulation, resilience, and self-regulation strategies, including Dr. Stuart Shanker’s Five Practices of Self-Reg (The MEHRIT Centre) 
Fostering exploration, play & inquiry

Children are born with a natural sense of curiosity and wonder. They play naturally. As parents and educators, we watch children explore their world through their senses, repetition of tasks, imitation, asking questions, pretending. But what are children really doing? Children are putting together all the pieces of how the world works through exploration, play and inquiry.

YMCA Educators understand the importance of play. They foster, expand and scaffold this natural talent called play by being:

  • active participants
  • architects of the play scape
  • keen observers
  • planners
  • reporters
  • collaborators
  • reflective practitioners

Observing a day in the life of a YMCA child care program, you will note that the majority of activities are directed by the children. Children decide where, when, what and how they wish to play. Their decisions are based on their interests and curiosity.

The educator responds by adapting the environment by adding new toys, materials and equipment, posing questions, and being a play partner. This sets the stage for further play, inquiry, discovery and learning. The educator’s role is to support play so that learning and development flourishes.

Providing child-initiated & adult-supported experiences

Children and parents are warmly greeted upon arrival. After a brief check-in to share news from the evening before; the children get down to the serious business of playing. The room is set up with a variety of activities that support the observed interests of the children. The children might join some friends at the creative art table to work collaboratively on a collage, or they might work on a Lego structure they safely stored on the counter to complete the next day. There are no expectations imposed by the educator or curriculum on where children play, or whom they play with, or how long they play at one activity. That is for the child to choose based on their interests. You may overhear a small group of children in the dramatic play centre dressed in costumes acting out a scene of being “mama, papa, and baby at the doctor”. The educator has been assigned the role of “doctor” by the children and takes this opportunity to ask the children questions that expand their understanding of what happens at a check-up. Tomorrow the educator supports the children’s interest by adding books about doctors and hospitals to the dramatic play centre hoping to build on the children’s interest and spark more questions and play – resulting in more learning.

Planning learning environments to support every child’s learning which is inclusive of all children, including children with individualized plans

YMCA Child Care programs are located in a variety of facilities including schools, community centres, and YMCA owned buildings. At the YMCA we understand that the parent is the child’s first teacher. The YMCA educator is the second teacher. And the learning environment is the child’s third teacher. The YMCA’s unique approach to planning and creating learning environments supports children’s play so that early learning and healthy development is maximized. YMCA learning centres are designed to be flexible and responsive to the needs of children. We have created home like environments that include calm colours, soft furnishings, items from nature like plants and pets, family photographs, and accessories that are intended to make children feel comfortable and safe. YMCA educators understand that children learn holistically and not in one area of development at a time. We understand that riding a tricycle involves gross motor and fine motor skills but the play children engage in while riding a tricycle involves many more — communication skills, social skills, etc.

Therefore, you may find books, paper and crayons in the block area because children are using these items to figure out how to build a bridge from one shelf to another. Or you may find play dough in the dramatic play area where children are making pizza. And on a beautiful day you may see indoor furniture move outdoors to take advantage of the weather.

Incorporating indoor, outdoor, active, rest & quiet activities

YMCA educators design a daily schedule that meets the needs of the children and provides for a balance of activities throughout the day. Consideration for the care requirements, age, developmental level, energy level, and interests of the children are included. Generous blocks of time for children to explore, play, and inquire are included both indoors and outdoors. The daily schedule is not rigid but operating in small groups is mandated. One small group of children may be on a walk in the community, while the other small group may prefer to stay indoors and bake cookies. Periods of active and quiet play are interwoven throughout the day both indoors and outdoors. At the YMCA we don’t let the weather stop us from having fun in nature. The children love to bundle up in warm dry clothes and head out to jump in puddles or make snowballs. In very poor weather active play takes place indoors so that children get the physical activity their bodies require. YMCA educators are trained to keep transitions from activity to activity to a minimum so children get to play more. However, young children thrive on regular schedules and feel secure when they can predict what will occur throughout the day therefore snacks and meal times are consistent as is the rest period in the afternoon for young children.

Fostering engagement & communication with parents

At the YMCA we understand that a parent is the most important person in a child’s life. YMCA educators play a supporting role while parents go to work and school. YMCA educators and parents communicate on a daily basis about children’s activities and health.

YMCA educators keep a record of each infant, toddler, and preschool-aged child's learning and development in the Weemarkable app every day. Getting to know family members is critical as an educator, and including family members in our child care program helps a child to feel a greater sense of belonging. Other strategies to engage parents and gain input include:

  • Documentations that describe play and its connection to learning
  • Parent/Educator interviews
  • Celebrations & events
  • Parent surveys
  • Displays of children’s artwork, sculptures, and creations
  • Photographs of children at play
  • Posting planning documents that include observations of children’s interests and activities introduced by YMCA educator
Involving community partner

While our range of community partners is broad, the largest and most important is the education system. Many of our centres are located in schools, so relationships with principals, faculty and staff are critical. The YMCA works closely with local community agencies and partners in order to support the children and families in our programs. We view the community as a valuable resource and our staff members plan learning opportunities to engage the community in our programs. The YMCA actively seeks out opportunities to share our knowledge and to learn from others in the community through networking opportunities, community planning tables and conferences.

Supporting educators’ continuous professional learning

The YMCA is committed to the ongoing professional development of all our educators. What the educator learns informs practice and the benefit is passed onto the children. YMCA educators attend a series of YMCA curriculum training sessions throughout their career with the YMCA. Additionally, the YMCA provides opportunities for educators to attend external learning events and conferences and keep legislated training requirements like Standard First Aid and CPR-C up to date. On a day-to-day basis the child care supervisor is responsible for the leadership, mentorship, coaching and development of educators.

Based on the learning needs of the educators, the supervisor may meet with staff to suggest strategies, conduct learning huddles to focus on a particular area of YMCA curriculum with the entire team, conduct regular staff meetings to reflect and plan, invite speakers from other YMCA departments or community agencies to attend the centre, or provide materials including links, articles, and various readings to supplement educators' professional learning.


YMCA educators participate in a continuous cycle of observation:

  • Documenting play and its significance
  • Determining the children’s interests
  • Planning activities that support children's interests
  • Discussion with team members
  • Reflection that informs the planning of activities and the learning environment

Links are made between theory, research, the YMCA curriculum, the YMCA program statement, the government curriculum, and children’s interests to inform YMCA educators' planning decisions.

This cycle is apparent in the toys, materials, and equipment provided in play areas. The furniture arrangement, children’s creative work and their activities, the planning documents posted weekly for parents to read and discuss with the educators. Weemarkable app updates, photographs, and written descriptions of activities.

This process of continuous program assessment supports reflective practice. Daily, educators observe and engage with children and evaluate the effectiveness of the learning environment to build on children’s interests. Weekly, they review plans and discuss them with their team and supervisor to ensure they support children’s learning and development. Monthly, they meet as a team to review what did and didn’t work, then plan accordingly.

program info


YMCA Early Childhood Educators come with a wide background of education and experience. Our staff must go through a rigorous screening process that includes demonstrating their values and skills, providing a police reference check that is renewed every three years, and holding a valid Standard First Aid and Infant and Child CPR certification. Once selected, new YMCA staff participate in orientation and training on YMCA policies and procedures, Ministry of Education regulations, and YMCA curriculum.

Our Early Childhood Educators are trained to:

  • Communicate regularly to families about their child’s progress
  • Plan classroom activities based on their knowledge of early childhood development
  • Observe and document the progress of each individual child
  • Practise the YMCA’s high standards of child safety and protection

At the YMCA, we recognize the importance of continued professional learning and have developed extensive learning modules and resources. Through these, YMCA Early Childhood Educators deepen their understanding of child development, play and play partnerships, program planning, extending play and scaffolding of learning, supporting children’s self-regulation, effective communication, and providing positive learning environments.

College of Early Childhood Educators

The College of Early Childhood Educators is the professional self-regulatory body for registered early childhood educators (RECE) in Ontario. The College's role is to protect the public interest by setting requirements for registration to practise as a RECE, setting ethical and professional standards and holding RECEs accountable for their practice. RECEs are trained in child development and the planning and delivery of play-based learning in child care programs.

YMCA staff with an early childhood education diploma or equivalent qualifications degree must be current members of the College in good standing. RECEs must renew their membership with the College on an annual basis.

Our Volunteers and Students on Educational Placement

YMCA child care programs are enhanced by the involvement of volunteers and educational placement students. Volunteers and placement students are always under the supervision of a YMCA staff member and never left alone with children.

All volunteers and placement students must provide a police reference check before interacting with children and are required to adhere to all YMCA policies and procedures and Ministry of Education regulations.

Positive Behaviour

The YMCA believes that it is the role of the adult in a child's life to support them to learn how to interact successfully with the world around them including other children, adults and the environment.

YMCA Early Childhood Educators set the stage for positive behaviour with the following strategies:

  • Building positive, respectful, and responsive relationships with children and their families
  • Fostering healthy social connections with other children
  • Supporting each child’s developmental needs through observation and responding to cues
  • Providing small group experiences which allow for more one-on-one adult attention
  • Modelling inclusive, respectful, and collaborative interactions with children and other adults
  • Providing flexible learning environments that include quality materials to support the children’s play throughout the day 
  •  Empowering children with the freedom to make choices
  • Engaging as a play partner with children to demonstrate pro-social skills, including promoting discussion, problem-solving when conflict arises and understanding how our actions affect others
  • Staying up to date with staff training on self-regulation and resilience and practising self-regulation strategies based on Dr. Stuart Shanker’s Five Practices of Self-Reg (The MEHRIT Centre)

Prohibited Practices

A prohibited practice is any behaviour by a staff, volunteer or placement student that puts children at risk or that can inhibit a child’s growth, self-esteem or healthy development. All YMCA staff, volunteers and placement students are aware that the following practices are unacceptable at the YMCA.

  • Corporal punishment
  • Physical restraint of a child, such as confining the child to a high chair, car seat, stroller or other device for the purpose of discipline in lieu of supervision, unless the physical restraint is for the purpose of preventing a child from hurting themselves or others. Is used only as a last resort and only until the risk of injury is no longer imminent.
  • Any form of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual or neglect)
  • Depriving a child of basic needs including food, drink, shelter, sleep, toilet use, clothing or bedding.
  • Inflicting any bodily harm on children including making children eat or drink against their will.
  • Leaving children unsupervised.
  • Deliberately using harsh or degrading measures or threats, use of derogatory language directed at, or used in the presence of a child that would humiliate, shame or frighten the child or undermine his or her self-respect or self-worth.
  • Locking the exits of the child care centre for the purpose of confining a child or confining a child in an area or room without adult supervision, unless such confinement occurs during an emergency and is required as part of the licensee's emergency management policies and procedures.
  • Using a locked or lockable room or structure to confine a child when separating them from other children.
  • Interacting or relating to children or vulnerable person outside of a YMCA program activity. (E.g. weekend home visits, babysitting, online chatting, etc.)
Before & After School Programs

Families Our Partners

At the YMCA we understand that the most important people in a child’s life are their family members. YMCA Early Childhood Educators play a supporting role while parents go to work or school. Involving, consulting with, and informing family members about the YMCA program helps a child feel a greater sense of belonging.

Diversity, Equity, Social Inclusion and Belonging

YMCA programs are designed to help children develop in spirit, mind, and body. We believe every child is unique and adds value to our programs.

YMCA educators strive to ensure the environments and programs reflect the needs of all children and, when required, consult with our community partners who can enhance our ability to support children.

Resolving Concerns and Issues

The YMCA understands that a child’s family members are the most important people in their life. YMCA staff are committed to connecting, partnering and engaging parents to provide the best possible care for each child. Daily conversations benefit the child, family, and the staff.

They help provide consistency for the child, support staff to understand the child and therefore plan for their success, and give families the opportunity to be part of their child’s day. The following procedure guides families, staff, supervisors and YMCA Management, when issues and concerns occur.

In situations where issues and concerns arise, YMCA staff educators and supervisors, together with the family and YMCA Management will work as a team to reach a resolution in a timely, confidential, fair and consistent manner.

The YMCA is guided by values that influence our actions and the decisions we make. The YMCA values are: Inclusiveness, Integrity, Kindness, Optimism, Respect and Well-Being. The YMCA is a shared experience for everyone to enjoy. When conflict arises, it is expected that the conflict will be resolved in a respectful manner in keeping with YMCA Values.

Type of issue/ concern:Family shall:YMCA staff receiving issue/concern shall:
Daily program issues/concerns (E.g. health care including medical needs/medication or allergies, special instructions for feeding, sleeping, or activities, toilet training, child’s adjustment to program, other children including bullying, etc.)Families are encouraged to speak directly with their child’s educator about any questions, issues or concerns either in person, by phone or by email.Staff will listen and seek to understand the family member’s issue/concern, and may attempt to resolve it immediately. If follow-up is required or if the staff is involved in supervising children the staff will record the contact information including name, phone number, and email address (if any) and inform the family member of the best time for a follow-up discussion (e.g. set up a phone call or meeting).

If the staff receiving the issue/concern thinks they are not the appropriate person to address the issue/concern they will refer the family member to the correct person; typically the supervisor, and provide contact information.

Staff will record all issues/concerns and the resolution in the Daily Written Record/Log Book.

If issue/concern is unresolved:

Families are encouraged to speak directly with the supervisor if the educator is unable to resolve their issue/concern.
Centre-wide issues/concerns (E.g. cleanliness, hours of operation, fees/payment, menu variety, other parents, bussing to school/transition, etc.)Families are encouraged to speak directly with the supervisor about any questions, issues or concerns either in person, by phone or by email.Supervisor will listen and seek to understand the family member’s issue/concern, and may attempt to resolve it immediately. If follow-up is required or if the supervisor is involved in supervising children the supervisor will record the contact information including name, phone number, and email address (if any) and inform the family member of the best time for a follow-up discussion (e.g. set up a phone call or meeting).

Supervisors will record all issues/concerns and the resolution in the Daily Written Record/Log Book.

If issue/concern is unresolved:

In most cases, talking with the supervisor will resolve all issues/concerns. If, for some reason, a resolution cannot be reached, the supervisor will provide contact information for the YMCA Manager responsible for the region.
Conduct of staff/student/volunteer or supervisorFamily members are encouraged to speak directly with the supervisor about any questions, issues or concerns either in person, by phone or by email.

If the family member is concerned about the conduct of the supervisor they are encouraged to speak directly to YMCA Management.
If there is an allegation/suspicion of child abuse, the supervisor will inform the family member of his/her duty to report suspected child abuse to a child protection agency and will provide the contact information.

Supervisors will:
• Make a report to the same child protection agency.
• Record all suspicions of abuse using the YMCA Child Abuse Reporting Kit.
• File a Serious Occurrence Report to the Ministry of Education within 24 hours of receiving the report from the family member.

Supervisors will share the outcome (founded/unfounded) of any investigation by a child protection agency when completed with the family member. Disciplinary information will not be shared.
Protection of Children and Vulnerable Persons

Everyone, including members of the public and professionals who work closely with children share a responsibility to protect children and vulnerable persons from harm. See Duty to Report1

The YMCA recognizes its responsibility to promote safe environments and practices to protect children and vulnerable persons from abuse.

YMCA child care staff are:

  • Legally responsible to immediately make a report to a child protection agency if they suspect abuse.
  • Responsible to make the decision to report suspected abuse without consulting their supervisor or colleagues*
  • Accountable to ensure the report remains confidential and sealed. Details of the report are not to be shared with anyone, this includes the supervisor, other staff, or parent unless authorized by the child protection agency.

¹ Duty to Report is defined under section 72(1) of the Ontario Child and Family Services Act and sets out what must be reported to a child protection agency (e.g. Children’s Aid Society - CAS).

*No staff/student/volunteer or parent shall advise someone not to report suspicions of abuse, nor try to stop the person from reporting or consulting with a child protection agency.

Escalation process for unresolved issues or concerns

If a family member has been unable to resolve their issue/concern through the informal process described above, a formal complaint may be made in writing (by mail or email) to:

Mailing Address:
YMCA of Greater Toronto Contact Centre
90 Eglinton Ave E., Unit 300
Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3

Please provide contact information, as the YMCA will not respond to anonymous complaints. If you are unable to submit a formal complaint in this manner due to a disability, you may contact the YMCA to request accommodation, which will be provided in keeping with the YMCA’s Accessibility and Customer Services Policy available on our website.

Formal Complaint Process

The YMCA is committed to a fair process when dealing with complaints. Families will be treated with respect and kept informed of the status of their complaint. The YMCA will respond within 10 business days to confirm that your complaint has been received.

The YMCA aims to resolve all complaints within 30 days of receipt. If this timeline cannot be met, the family will be informed of the reasons and given a revised timeframe. Upon completion of a review, the family will be provided with reasons for the decision relating to the complaint, which will complete the formal complaint process.

Confidentiality/No Retaliation

Any YMCA staff that receives a complaint or concern shall maintain confidentiality by not discussing allegations with other individuals, except on a ‘need to know’ basis. For example, in some programs that receive funding from partner agencies, complaints may need to be shared with those agencies.

No person who in good faith and under this policy submits a concern or complaint shall suffer retaliation.


A summary of all formal complaints, including number and type, will be provided to the Board/Board Committee on an annual basis.

Before & After School Programs

Child Care Programs

Hours of Operation

At the YMCA our standard hours of operation are 7:30 am to 6 pm. Some locations are open for extended hours to accommodate the needs of families who commute a long distance to work or school. Program operates year round. Visit our website for the hours of operation of the centres closest to you.

Communication with Families

We know it’s vital for parents to be informed of their child’s day at the YMCA. Y Early Childhood Educators keep a daily record of infant, toddler, or preschool children’s nap times, snacks and lunch, diaper and/or washroom routines, and any observed changes in their health. A child’s daily play highlights, weekly documentation, and other important updates from the YMCA are recorded in the Weemarkable app so parents/guardians can see their child’s progress.

In addition to the Weemarkable app, YMCA educators provide families with information about their child’s YMCA experience and development through: 

  • Daily in-person communication with families at arrival and departure times
  • Weekly program documentation highlighting learning that occurred during a play experience
  • Twice a year, parent-teacher conferences to discuss their child’s development one-on-one with the educator
Infant (0–18 months) Ratio of Adults to Children - 1:3

What to bring for your infant: Please ensure all of your child’s belongings are clearly labelled with their name

  • Diapers, wipes and any creams or lotions labelled with your infant’s name and written instructions for application
  • Bottles/sippy cups
  • Formula (labelled with your infants’ full name, the date prepared) or expressed milk labelled with your infant’s full name, the mother’s full name, date milk expressed) and written instructions for feeding (baby foods and whole milk or 2% milk will be provided by the YMCA)
  • Changes of clothing
  • Seasonal outdoor clothing
Toddler (18 months–30 months) Ratio of Adults to Children - 1:5

What to bring for your toddler: Please ensure all of your child’s belongings are clearly labelled with their name

  • Diapers, wipes and any creams or lotions labelled with your toddler’s name and written instructions for application
  • Bottles/sippy cups
  • Formula (labelled with your infants’ full name, the date prepared) or expressed milk labelled with your infant’s full name, the mother’s full name, date milk expressed) and written instructions for feeding (baby foods and whole milk or 2% milk will be provided by the YMCA)
  • Changes of clothing
  • Seasonal outdoor clothing
  • Blanket and/or sleep toy for rest time
Preschool (2 1/2 years–5 years) Ratio of Adults to Child - 1:8

What to bring for your preschooler: Please ensure all of your child’s belongings are clearly labelled with their name

  • Pull-ups or training pants (for toilet training)
  • Change of clothing
  • Seasonal outdoor clothing
  • Blanket and/or sleep toy for rest time

Program Procedures

Sleep Supervision and Position Requirements

YMCA staff are required to follow the guidelines set out in the Joint Statement on Safe Sleep from the Public Health Agency of Canada which states that infants under 12 months of age are to be placed on their backs to sleep until such time that they can independently flip over onto their stomachs. Your physician may recommend otherwise in writing. The Joint Statement also sets out that infants under 12 months should not have blankets or toys in the crib. Families will be consulted respecting their child’s sleeping arrangements at the time the child is enrolled and at any other appropriate time, such as at transitions between programs or rooms or upon a parent’s/guardian’s request. YMCA staff routinely perform direct visual checks of sleeping children that are documented on a chart. Direct visual checks of infants are performed every 15 minutes and every 30 minutes for toddlers. Any time a staff observes a significant change in a child’s sleeping patterns or health during sleep it will be communicated to parents/guardians.

Hand and Respiratory Hygiene

Regular hand hygiene (i.e. washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer) and respiratory hygiene (i.e. coughing into arm, washing hands after discarding a used tissue) are among the most important proactive strategies to reduce illness.

YMCA educators include fun learning activities that teach children about hand and respiratory hygiene and plan for regular hand-washing routines throughout the day (e.g. arrival at program, after using washrooms, before and after eating, before and after playing outdoors, after using a tissue). When running water is not available, staff supervise children over the age of 2 to use hand sanitizer. If required, wipes are provided for children under 2.


YMCA full-day child care programs for children 0–5 years of age offer a variety of nutritious morning snacks, lunches and afternoon snacks prepared by a caterer or onsite cook. The current and following week’s menus are posted for your information.

Infants are fed according to their individual needs. Families of infants are to provide written feeding instructions.

To ensure your child receives a well-balanced meal, our menus follow the Government of Canada's Nutrition recommendations for Six to 24 Months and/or Canada’s Food Guide: Healthy Eating Recommendations.

Special Dietary and Feeding Arrangements

In consideration of children with allergies and food restrictions, the YMCA discourages sending any food from home. However, families of children with food restrictions and/or complex allergies may be granted an exception by the supervisor to bring food from home. The supervisor and the parent will work on a written plan to implement the child’s dietary arrangements. When food is sent from home it's expected that the Guidelines for Bagged Lunch/Snack are followed.

Parent Responsibilities:

  • Lunch/snack contents meet the Canada’s Food Guide: Healthy Eating Recommendations.
  • Lunch/snack is provided in a lunch bag labelled with child’s name with an ice pack.
  • Foods that may have come in contact with nuts are not provided in child’s lunch.
  • Follow the Guidelines for Bagged Lunches/Snacks and be aware of the known allergens of children in the YMCA program.

Staff Responsibilities:

  • All surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected prior to and after the children have finished their lunch/snack.
  • Staff will ensure that their hands are washed before assisting children with their lunch/snack.
  • Staff will ensure the children wash their hands prior to eating lunch/snack.
  • Staff will monitor the lunches/snacks to ensure no food arrives at the centre that contains nuts or other known allergens.
  • When a child forgets their lunch/snack or it needs to be supplemented due to the presence of known allergens, the staff will call the parent or guardian to provide a lunch/snack. If the parent cannot provide a lunch/snack. A staff member will provide lunch/snack that meets the Canada Food Guidelines. The food served will be recorded in the log book.
  • Staff will monitor to ensure that children do not share lunches/snacks.
  • Staff will closely supervise any child that has a life-threatening allergy by sitting next to them or across from them during lunch time.
  • Staff will ensure the children have water or milk to drink at lunch/snack time.
  • Staff will monitor each child’s lunch/snack and should a child’s lunch consistently not adhere to Canada’s Food Guide then the Centre Supervisor will work with the parent to provide sample menu ideas.
  • Sample lunch/snack ideas/websites will be available at the centre to support families.
Life-Threatening Allergies (Anaphylaxis)

The YMCA strives to protect the children in our care who have life-threatening allergies by reducing as much as possible exposure to their known allergens. A list of allergens to be avoided in the program is included in your registration package and a notice is posted for all families near the entrance to the program. Families are advised to check frequently as the notice is updated monthly or as changes occur.

Any parent/guardian of a child with a life-threatening allergy is responsible for providing the YMCA with detailed information about their child’s known allergens, signs and symptoms of an allergic response and the steps to take in an emergency prior to their child starting care.


Anyone who is feeling sick or has any new or worsening symptoms of illness, including those not listed in this screening tool, should stay home until their symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours for nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea) and seek assessment from their health care provider if needed.

Please refer to the Ontario's Ministry of Health School and Child Care Screening Tool.

Reporting Absence

It is very important that you contact the program to report that your child will be absent and the reason for their absence.

If Child Becomes Ill at Program

If a child becomes ill while at the program, a staff member will separate the child from the others and the parent/guardian will be contacted to immediately pick-up the child from the program.

If the YMCA is unable to reach the parent(s)/guardian to arrange pick up, then all other contacts, including emergency contacts and authorized pick-ups, will be contacted. The ill child will be supervised by a staff member while waiting to be picked up. If the child is over 2 years of age and can tolerate a mask, they will be asked to wear a mask.


Requirements to wear masks/eye protection indoors or outdoors at the child care centre have been lifted by the government of Ontario. Please inform your child’s educator if you want your child to continue wearing a mask.

Travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days

You must follow the federal guidelines ( after returning to Canada.

Health and safety tips

The removal of provincial requirements does not mean that the risk for COVID-19 has disappeared. We still need to do our part to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. This includes practising good hand hygiene and wearing a mask where recommended or required.


Whenever possible, parents/guardians should administer drugs and medication to their children at home, if this can be done without affecting the treatment schedule. When a child is ill, it is in their best interest to remain at home where they are comfortable and able to rest and get better.

The YMCA is required to administer only drugs and medications either prescribed by a doctor, nurse practitioner or other licensed health provider with a prescription label on the original container on the medication or accompanied by a doctor’s note that outlines the following:

  • Date note was written
  • Time to be administered or detailed reason for administering including signs and symptoms (e.g. fever above 38°C, wheezing or coughing, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, etc.)
  • Expiry date of the note (i.e. is it for a specific time period? or ongoing until further notice?)
  • Child’s legal first and last name
  • Name of drug or medication
  • Dosage to be administered
  • Please provide the correct measuring device as well as all medical equipment needed to administer your child’s medication (e.g. labelled air chamber, labelled syringe, etc.)

Any time you bring drugs or medications to be administered to your child at the child care centre, YMCA staff will provide you with a Medication Administration Authorization form to complete that details the dosage, times of administration and permission for the YMCA to give your child the drug or medication.

Advil, Tylenol, Motrin (Pain Relievers, Fever Reducers, Anti-inflammatory Medications)

It is not the YMCA’s practice to administer medications such as Advil, Tylenol, or Motrin to control cold or flu symptoms. It is in the best interest of the child experiencing these symptoms to remain home, to rest and get better.

If the child has a chronic illness (e.g. headache, migraine, seizures) or is teething, YMCA staff may administer medications like Advil or Tylenol with a doctor’s note. The doctor’s note must be updated annually or as the child’s age, weight, or medical condition changes.

Incident/Accident Reporting

Children are active and curious. It is not uncommon for young children to experience cuts, scrapes, and bruises while running, jumping, and playing. All YMCA staff hold valid certification in Standard First Aid and Infant and Child CPR, and have been trained in emergency procedures.

Any time your child has an accident, YMCA staff will record the details on the YMCA Incident Notification for Parent form and provide you with a copy.

In the event a more serious incident involving your child occurs, YMCA staff have been trained to respond based on the severity of the injury. YMCA staff will either call emergency support services (911), parent/guardian or your designated emergency contacts to take your child for medical evaluation.

A serious occurrence incident is defined as; Public Health orders a closure, YMCA closes the program, life-threatening injury or illness of a child, an allegation of abuse by a staff, student, or placement volunteer, a missing or unsupervised child, a disaster on premises, or the death of a child.

Emergency Response

The YMCA is committed to being prepared and keeping all staff, volunteers and families safe and the charity functioning in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. We understand that YMCA families, staff, volunteers and students on placements rely on our ability to deliver uninterrupted programs and services in safe environments. The YMCA trains all staff, volunteers, and students on placement before interacting with children and annually on emergency procedures including how to respond to personal injuries and medical emergencies, building emergencies (power failure, flood), fire drills and evacuation, inclement weather, threats from criminal activity (lockdown) and natural disasters.

In the event your child is involved in an emergency you will be contacted directly, by the YMCA. If the YMCA is unable to reach you directly they will call the emergency contacts you have identified in your child’s registration package. The YMCA will also endeavor to post information on our website and YMCA of Greater Toronto's Twitter and Facebook accounts. Depending on the nature of the emergency, the YMCA staff and children may have to re-locate to an evacuation site until you can pick up your child. The YMCA evacuation site address is posted in the entrance way of every classroom.

Smoke Free

YMCA Child Care programs are required to be smoke free environments under the Smoke Free Ontario Act 2005. Smoking (i.e. lighted tobacco or cannabis) or vaping an electronic cigarette (i.e. regardless of contents) on the premises where a YMCA child care program is located, including all indoor and outdoor areas, is prohibited. This includes playgrounds, school property and surrounding areas. Failure to comply could result in a penalty of up to $5,000

Outdoor Play

All children in full-day child care centres are required to play outdoors for a minimum of two hours each day, weather permitting. During inclement weather, alternate active play must be provided indoors.

Weather can change quickly. A rainy cool morning can rapidly become a humid, sunny afternoon. We ask that you always prepare your child for any type of weather so that your child can participate comfortably outdoors.

Field Trips and Community Walks

Field trips and community walks provide valuable experiences for children and allow staff the opportunity to extend program activities outside of the classroom.

When these opportunities arise, parents/guardians will be required to complete a permission form giving consent for their child to participate in the activity. Community walks may be part of the regular program and as such do not require a permission form.

Extreme Weather

During extreme weather conditions, advisories or alerts, (heat, smog or wind chill) the YMCA follows the guidelines of the local health department. Our priority is to keep children safe from serious adverse health effects such as frostbite and sunburn.

YMCA Educators will adjust the amount of time spent outdoors or provide an alternative indoor plan.

program info

Program Information

Program Closures

YMCA Child Care programs are closed on all statutory holidays during the year. Please note when a statutory holiday falls on a weekend the YMCA will recognize this closure date on the following business day. Fee payment is required for all statutory holidays.

  • New Year's Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday (For Staff Professional Development day. Fee will not be charged for this closure.)
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Civic Holiday
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day
Unscheduled Program Closures

On rare occasion, YMCA Child Care programs must close due to unscheduled circumstances such as severe weather, flooding, job action, and other incidents beyond our control. Families will be notified through email, phone, or our Weemarkable app when their program has been cancelled. News of closures will also be shared through the YMCA’s website and Instagram. Please note that child care fee credits and refunds will not be processed for unscheduled program closures. Please refer to our Inclement Weather procedure.

In severe weather conditions, full-day Child Care and Before & After School programs will follow the same closure procedure as local school boards. When schools in a region close due to weather, our child care programs — both those inside and outside schools — will also close.

Safe Arrival and Dismissal

The safety and well-being of all children participating in YMCA child care programs is of utmost importance to us. 

Parents/guardians are encouraged to notify the childcare centre to report any absences. If a child has not arrived at the centre by 9:30am, the YMCA staff will attempt to communicate with a family at their first opportunity to confirm the child’s absence. This communication will serve as the sole notification from the centre regardless of whether a response is received from the family. Families may choose to opt out of notifications by indicating in writing to the Supervisor/Designate. 

The YMCA will ensure that any child receiving care at the child care centre is only released to the child’s parent/guardian or an individual where the parent/guardian has provided authorization. 

Parents/guardians or their designate are required to personally escort their child into the program and to pick up their child at the end of the day. Please ensure that a YMCA staff member is aware you have arrived or that you are departing with your child. Arrival and Departure times are recorded by a YMCA Educator prior to parents/guardians leaving the centre.

Read more about our policy in detail.

Authorized Drop-off/Pick-up and Emergency Contacts

At the time of enrolment, you will be asked to provide the names and contact information including telephone numbers and addresses of any adults 16 years of age or older that you authorize to drop off/pick up your child or come to the centre in the event that you cannot be contacted when your child is ill or has been involved in an emergency.

The YMCA does not permit children 15 years of age or younger to escort younger children home. If you require an alternate person to pick up your child who is not on the list, please provide this information in writing (email) to YMCA staff. Any new visitors to the YMCA who come to pick up a child will be asked to provide photo identification.

Late Pick-up

YMCA Early Childhood Educators are counting on you to be on time to pick up your child at the end of the day so that they can meet their personal and family obligations.

We do understand that that weather and traffic accidents happen, however we appreciate you calling the program to let us know you will be late or making arrangements for an alternate adult to pick up your child. Child care arrangements may be withdrawn by the YMCA for parents/guardians who frequently pick up their child late.

Space Limitations

The YMCA has the right to manage enrolment which may result in the YMCA not being able to accommodate your child care needs for the next school year. Priority will be given to children currently registered and attending their home school where the child care program is located with consideration also being given to younger children. In situations where capacity is limited and expansion of space is unavailable, the YMCA will provide families with written notice.

Program Cancellations

The YMCA will endeavor to keep programs operating which meet the needs of the community. The YMCA reserves the right to limit program components and/or locations based on enrolment.

program info

Registration Information

Child Care Fees

Use the link provided below to view base fees for all YMCA centres offering child care programs. At this time, the YMCA does not charge non-base fees. We will provide 30 days' notice informing you if there are any changes.

The YMCA of Greater Toronto has signed the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) agreement and is pleased to offer fee reductions as part of the agreement to families in Toronto, York, Peel, Halton, Dufferin, and Durham regions.

YMCA base fees are reduced upon registration by 52.75% as of January 2023 to a minimum of $12.

View full fee chart here

Child Care Payments

Child care payments are processed on a monthly basis by pre-authorized payment/debit authorization or by credit card. Families have the option to choose from one of the three monthly draw dates for their child care fees to be processed on the 1st, 15th or 20th of each month.

If families require payment arrangements outside of our current terms and conditions, please email the Child and Family Development administration Office at

Part-Time Programs

Part-time programs are available at limited locations that are not full to capacity. Families can choose from 2 day (Tuesday & Thursday) or 3 day (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) options.

You will be asked to sign a part-time program agreement form. In the event that a program location reaches its maximum capacity, families will be offered the opportunity to change from part-time to full-time or be given two weeks’ withdrawal notice.

Government Child Care Subsidy

YMCA licensed child care programs hold a purchase of service agreement with regional municipal offices. Apply for child care fee subsidy by contacting your local municipal office or visit their website by clicking below:


The admissions review process aligns with the charity’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging strategic goals. The YMCA strives to accommodate all registration requests, however there may be times when space is unavailable in our programs and you may place your child on our waitlist. Please note there is no fee to place your child on a waiting list. It is important for you to keep your contact information up to date with us.

Children are placed on the waiting list in sequence, based on the date and time that the waiting list application is received by the YMCA. Determining where your child(ren) is on a waiting list/or admissions to the program is subject to a number of considerations including, but not limited to;

  • when the children currently enrolled move to the next age group
  • the ages of the children on the waiting list
  • the length of time each child will be in an age group before having to transition tothe next age group

Exceptions that could affect the order in which admissions are offered are:

  • A child protection/welfare agency requests placement for a child
  • Children requiring full-time care (5 days per week)
  • Siblings of children currently registered in a YMCA Child Care program
  • Children transferring from other YMCA Child Care programs
  • Children of YMCA of Greater Toronto employees
  • Children living within the school boundaries and attending their home school

YMCA Child Care Program waitlists are managed by each YMCA location. To find out your child(ren)’s status on the waiting list, simply contact the Supervisor of the program where you originally completed the waiting list form. The Supervisor will disclose the child(ren)’s position on the waiting list to the parent subject to the YMCA privacy statement

Find a YMCA location by visiting or call 1-866-317-6251.

Absence from Care

Refunds for child care fees will not be processed for the following: missed days, vacation, sick days or inclement weather closures. Operating costs are based on the number of children enrolled.

Registration Changes

If you require changes to your current program registration these requests can be made on line using the Registration Change Request Form. Changes could consist of; family/child contact information, emergency contact information, and changes to program type (part-time to full-time). Registration changes and updates can take up to 10 business days to be completed.

Payment Changes

Any changes to pre-authorized billing can be submitted on line using the Registration Change Request Form. If a new pre-authorized payment form is required to make the change requested this form can be obtained from your program supervisor. Payment changes can take up to 10 business days to take effect.

Withdrawal Notification

If you choose to withdraw your child from their YMCA child care program, 10 business days’ notice of withdrawal is required. Withdrawal notices can be submitted online using the Registration Change Request Form. Payments will be adjusted upon receipt of the withdrawal notification. Withdrawal notifications received with less than 10 business days’ notice will be charged for the 10 business days' period.

YMCA Financial Assistance

As a charity that serves all segments of our community, the YMCA of Greater Toronto provides financial assistance in times of need. This is a short term support made possible due to the generosity of our donors, members, volunteers, staff, corporate and community partners. For more information on how to apply, please speak with your program supervisor.

The YMCA Kids Challenge, is a weeklong event held every spring that aims to teach our children about philanthropy and living an active and healthy life. Funds raised will support vital programs and services or provide financial assistance so more children and families can access our health and fitness centres, child care and camps. Be a healthy role model and support the YMCA Kids Challenge. Donate Today. We count on the generous donations of the community, members, staff and volunteers. A charitable receipt suitable for tax purposes will be provided for all donations of $10 or more.

Withdrawal of YMCA Services

The YMCA strives to meet the individual needs of all children and families enrolled in our YMCA child care programs. However, situations do arise from time to time where it may be necessary for the YMCA of Greater Toronto to withdraw child care services for a child and/or their family.
The YMCA does not take these decisions lightly and takes reasonable care to ensure a thorough assessment of the child’s needs, community supports available, and the YMCA program's ability to support the child have been undertaken before withdrawing services.

Examples leading to withdrawal of services may include:

  • Non-payment of program fees
  • Frequent late pick-up
  • Parents/guardians or children who exhibit violent or harassing behaviour towards staff, volunteers, students on placement, other children or families
  • Community resources for children with special needs are unavailable or have been exhausted
  • Refusal by parent/guardian to meet with YMCA staff and/or consent to the use of support services for children
Privacy of Information

All YMCA staff, volunteers and placement students understand the importance of keeping all personal information in the strictest of confidence. The YMCA will not share any personal information with outside agencies including school boards, and resource consultants for children with special needs without written parental consent. See YMCA's Privacy Policy for more information.