There are currently only two options for licensing through the Ministry of Education. One is to become a 'licensed centre' which only applies to a premise that plans to care for 6 or more unrelated children and comes with many zoning obstacles OR one can choose to become a 'licensed home childcare agency'. A home childcare agency does not actually provide the actual service of childcare on its premise but instead oversees the programs of a variety of contracted home childcare providers operating out of multiple locations in the community.
In the later it is the HOME CHILDCARE AGENCY that is annually inspected by the Ministry and therefore holds the actual license. Their license than enables them to 'contract' other actual home childcare providers to offer service out of their homes on the agency's behalf. Much the same as a 'centre' is licensed and than will hirer 'employees' to offer the actual service of childcare. The home childcare provider is than 'contracted' by agency, the agency is than responsible to ensure that their contracted provider/employees meet the 'standards of the agencies license' just the same as a 'centre management' is responsible to ensure its employees are following the 'rules' of their license. While an agency contracted home childcare provider is still technically deemed 'self employed' for tax purposes the reality is that their independence and autonomy over philosophy, policy development and so forth is greatly limited by the 'contract' with the agency verses just the 'regulations for the industry'.
While the Agency model offers some amazing support to those providers who need it, such as marketing and advertising, billing and receiving, client conflict resolution and other business coaching services it unfortunately comes at an 'administration cost' to both the client and the provider. A cost that often results in childcare fees being higher to the client and the provider earning up to 30% lower wage to cover those administration costs verses remaining private/independent. This makes being with an agency an expensive investment, specially for those who do not 'need' all that support because they have a strong business sense of their own and prefer to be 'independently' operated to control their operating expenses and other business policies.Our choice than is to be viewed by the public as 'unlicensed' because we do not meet the criteria options to BE licensed directly!
When I first made the transition from centre care to home based programming I partnered with a local licensed agency. I know that my home meets and exceeds all the requirements to BE with an agency and I still regularly perform the 'health and safety check list' to ensure this. However, at this time, I have chosen to return to being 'independent' in order to ensure I can remain viable doing what I love.
The independent business model ensures I can keep all the revenue from fees collected by my clients and reinvest them directly in the front line program. I believe this allows me to invest more in my program for clients such as having a 'lower ratio' of children verses licensed centres and 'contracted agency providers', my menu planning options retain a focus on fresh home-made with gluten free and other allergen accommodation options being available to those who need at no 'additional cost', ensuring the program has lots of awesome program content and all while also ensuring I have a living wage doing what I love. In my experience 'self regulating' my program is the the best choice for everyone.
As an early childhood educator I think it is important to note that I am already 'regulated' by my professional college. In order to practice in the field using my RECE designation I have to be a member in good standing. I have to follow the code of conduct for best practice in the industry including the ability to produce a 'clear criminal reference check and vulnerable screening' should it be requested. Plus should a member of the public have an issue with my professional conduct they have a conduit to make a complaint that will be investigated by the College and I would risk my designation being revoked should I be found guilty of any misconduct. You can find the College of Early Childhood Educators Public Register here to see that I am truly a member in good standing.
Unfortunately the one downside to the inability to be 'directly licensed' is that I am not able to enter into a 'purchase of service agreement' with the Regional government and therefore not able to help those clients who might need 'financial assistance' with their fees. If you require 'fee subsidy' you will have to contact a local licensed home childcare agency and see if they have any providers with spaces available to accommodate you. My recommendation for preferred local agency option, for those who need it, would be London Children's Connections ~ Community Home Childcare.