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Access to early learning and child care




Skills and opportunity


Access to early learning and child care


Proportion of children aged 0 to 5 years who use/participate in regulated or unregulated Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) services.


This indicator is measured in the Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements (SELCCA). SELCCA collects information from families on the different types of early learning and child care arrangements, the difficulties some families may face when looking for childcare, as well as reasons for not using child care.

Respondents are asked the following questions on their use of child care for each of their children aged 0 to 5 years:

In the past three months, did [child's name] usually attend any child care arrangements?

  • Yes
  • No

In the past three months, which of the following arrangements did you usually use for [child's name]?

  • Daycare centre, preschool or CPE
  • Care by a relative other than a parent or guardian (e.g., a grandparent)
  • Care by a non-relative in the child's home (e.g., a nanny)
  • Family child care home (e.g., home-based daycare or home-based child care)
  • Before or after school program
  • Other child care arrangement

Other SELCCA questions include the number of hours or days spent in child care per week, the location of the care, costs for child care, whether the care facility is licensed, and reasons for difficulty in obtaining child care. Information from this survey provides a snapshot of the use of early child care in Canada, and can be used to:

  • understand why families choose to use or not use different types of child care arrangements;
  • guide research for improving early learning programs for children; and,
  • develop policies aimed at improving the accessibility and affordability of high-quality early learning and child care programs.

SELCCA results can help governments better assess various policies and programs so that child care and learning options are aligned with children's needs.

The survey's definition of "child care" does not include occasional babysitting or care by a parent/guardian.

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Additional information


This indicator aligns with the following frameworks:

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