Quality Ratings for Child Care Centres
Research tell us that early childhood experiences can affect later outcomes in life. We want all Toronto children to have access to developmentally appropriate, play-based early learning experiences in a safe and nurturing environment.
To ensure quality child care is offered to families, the City assesses licensed programs using the Assessment for Quality Improvement (AQI). The results of this assessment are called quality ratings, and are posted online for all parents to view.
What Is the Assessment for Quality Improvement (AQI)?
The Assessment for Quality Improvement also known as the AQI, is a set of quality standards for child care based on early learning research and best practice.
The AQI is validated tool, developed by the City to assess the quality of a child care program.
What Does the AQI Evaluate?
The AQI evaluates 3 main areas:
The program looks at what the children are doing while at the centre.
- Are the children’s learning experiences based on their individual interests and needs
- Are the learning experiences developmentally appropriate and do they allow children to build on existing skills.
- Learning Environment
The learning environment reviews expectations related to the play materials and looks to ensure the environment is safe for children and maintained in a hygienic manner.
- Are the play materials accessible to the children and is there enough for the number of children who want to use them?
- Are they developmentally appropriate and do they challenge the children to problem solve?
A key component of a quality child care is how the staff/educators interact with the children.
- Are the staff actively engaged with children?
- Do the staff encourage and support the children to extend and enhance their learning?
The complete AQI is available for anyone to review.
Are There Limitations to the Quality Rating?
While it is important to take the quality rating into consideration when choosing a child care, it is necessary to understand that the rating reflects a snapshot of the environment and events that existed on the day.
Various factors have potential to impact the results. For example, the results could be impacted if the regular early childhood educator happened to be off that day.
So, in addition to the rating, we encourage you to visit the child care and observe the program, speak to staff and ask the supervisor any questions you might have about the centre’s quality rating.
How Do I Know If a Child Care Has a Quality Rating?
- If a centre has a quality rating it will be posted on the City’s website on our A to Z listing of child care centres.
- Child care centres that have been assessed will have a “Quality makes a difference” sticker displayed at their centre.
- You can also ask the child care supervisor to see their quality ratings.
Note: Child care centres that do not have a service agreement with the City are not assessed for quality and therefore will not have a quality rating.
How Does the AQI Benefit the Child Care Program?
The AQI provides clear expectations, service standards and guidelines for child care programs.
The results of the AQI can be used to support continuous improvement and it can help the organization to set goals and priorities.