Are you looking for a childcare centre? The following tips may be of interest to you before registering your child.
Before registering your child at a childcare centre, verify whether the establishment of your choosing is recognised by Quebec's Ministère de la Famille. For more information, see the section about childcare services on the Ministère's Web site.
When you register your child to a childcare centre, the establishment must provide a contract that details all the conditions of the agreement. Make sure the contents of the contract reflect the promises that were made to you.
Contents of a childcare services contract
The contract presents the rights and obligations of the parents and those of the childcare centre. It must include:
- your name and address;
- the childcare centre’s name and address;
- the description of the services the establishment is committed to offering;
- the opening and closing hours of the childcare centre;
- the dates on which services cannot be offered (holidays, and so on);
- the date on which your child will begin attending the childcare centre;
- the duration of the contract;
- the hourly, daily, or weekly rate for the services;
- the total amount you will need to pay;
- the penalty fees that apply if you pickup your child later than the prescribed time at the end of the day, if the centre charges such fees;
- the terms of payment;
- a clause explaining the contract's cancellation terms. The information that the cancellation clause must contain is presented in Article 46 of the Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act.
What if your contract contains a clause that refers to rules other than those included in the contract, to a code of conduct for example? For such rules to be valid, they must have been submitted to you before you signed the contract. In case of a problem, if the childcare centre can prove that you did in fact read and accept the rules, it has the right to apply them.
Subsidized childcare services: additions to the contract
If the childcare centre is subsidized, additional elements must be included in the contract:
- a description of the services required;
- the period of anticipated attendance at the childcare centre, that is, on a day or half-day basis;
- the anticipated days of attendance;
- the hours during which the services are offered.
The page about reduced-contribution spaces (in French only) on the Ministère de la Famille Web site provides further information about subsidized childcare services contracts.
Contract for additional services
The childcare centre must provide a detailed description of outings, personal hygiene items, and meals for which it charges additional fees. Such charges must also be detailed. These elements must be part of an ancillary contract, that is, a contract that covers the purchase of additional services.
Whether the childcare centre is subsidized or not, it must provide you with a cancellation form along with a copy of the contract. This form will be helpful should you ever want to cancel your contract.
Examples of contracts
The page about service agreements (in French only) on the Ministère de la Famille Web site provides an example of a general contract along with an example of contracts for meals and personal hygiene items.
The childcare centre cannot collect payment or a deposit before your child actually attends the establishment.
When the first payment must be remitted
The childcare centre can require a payment from the first day your child attends the establishment, never before that. No payment of any kind can be requested or remitted, e.g. to reserve a place for a child.
Number of instalments
The childcare centre cannot require or offer to have you to pay for the services in a single instalment, for the duration of the contract. Payment must be made in at least 2 approximately equal instalments, which are to be claimed at regular intervals. For example, you could make a payment every week.
Any fee that is charged to you must be specified in the contract. If an optional service, such as an outing, is offered, it must be indicated in a separate contract and be invoiced separately.
For late payments, interest can be only charged for the overdue period.
You can always cancel a contract with a childcare centre at any time. If the contract is ongoing, the childcare centre may charge a penalty fee. If you cancel the contract before any services have been received, no fees can be charged.
The page Cancelling a childcare services contract explains how to do so.
Last update : February 28, 2023
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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.