About Child Care Fee Subsidy

Answering your general questions about child care fee subsidy.  Learn more about eligibility, who to contact and what to expect.


Eligibility for fee subsidy is based on income and reasons for needing child care.  You must live in Hamilton, have status in Canada (persons with work permits/student visas are not eligible), and meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Working or attending school a minimum of  20 hours/week
  • Participating in an approved employment assistance activity through Ontario Works
  • Received approval through the therapeutic referral process

A family is no longer eligible when any of the following occur:

  • Available income exceeds the cost of child care
  • No longer have an approved reason to need child care (i.e. no longer in school, employment ended, therapeutic referral ends)
  • Child(ren) turn 13 years of age
  • Move out of the Municipality, subsidy is NOT transferable

Once your application has been submitted, eligible applicants that are NOT subject to the waiting list will be scheduled to complete an intake appointment to verify their eligibility.

Applicants subject to the waiting list will be sent a letter confirming waitlist placement. You will be contacted once you are eligible to be removed from the waiting list.

It is important to notify our office if you have a change in address or phone number so that we can reach you when you are eligible to be removed from the waiting list.

Once you are approved to start child care, you will need to choose a child care arrangement that best suits your needs with a licensed child care centre or a licensed home child care agency with a subsidy agreement with the City of Hamilton. Prior to obtaining approval you must register with the Hamilton Child Care Registry. Failure to register with the Hamilton Child Care Registry may delay your child(ren)’s approval.

1. Proof of your status in Canada for all family members (only required at initial appointment or if status changes)

  • Canadian birth certificate; or
  • Valid Canadian passport; or
  • Permanent resident card; or
  • Record of Landing; or
  • Refugee papers’ or
  • Letter from Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) verifying permanent resident status or application for status

2. Proof of your income (one of the following for all adults in the family)

  • Canada Child Benefit Notice
  • Current Federal Notice of Assessment
  • Ontario Child Benefit Notice
  • Families receiving Ontario Works/ODSP support do not need to verify income

Review the chart below to confirm the tax year to submit: 

July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017 2015
July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018 2016
July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019 2017
July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020 2018

3. Proof of the reason for needing child care (one of the following for all adults in the family)

  • One month of current paystubs or a letter from employer verifying hours working each week
  • Verification of school enrolment i.e. OSAP Assessment, class schedule, including confirmation of start and end dates
  • For self-employed applicants a copy of their business license and Revenue Canada Form T2125 –Statement of Business or Professional Activities

4. Proof of your current address

  • Recent utility bill
  • Lease or mortgage papers
  • Letter received from recognized institution such as bank, credit card or school

5. Proof of custody arrangements (if applicable and only required at initial appointment or if/when custody changes)

  • Legal documentation, divorce papers, separation agreement, mediation report or other written agreement verifying custody arrangements

If child care is required due to the special needs of your child or due to personal illness or disability than a referral is required.  Most referrals end when child is eligible to attend kindergarten.

To request a therapeutic referral package call 905-546-2424 x 4872 or email childcare@hamilton.ca with the name and fax number of your referring agent. 

The referral must be completed by one of the following approved professionals:

  • Family Physician
  • Pediatrician
  • Specialist
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Resource Teachers
  • Developmental Pediatrician
  • Children’s Aid Society Caseworkers
  • Speech and Language Pathologist

It is your responsibility to contact your referring agent to complete the referral.

If approved you will be contacted by a Subsidy Eligibility worker to discuss next steps and if denied your referring agent will be notified.

You must attend an in person review annually. Contact your Subsidy Eligibility worker to schedule your review 4 weeks prior to your expiry.  Your Placement Authorization form will confirm your subsidy expiry date.

If at any time your situation changes, such as moving to a new address, change in marital status, a significant change in income and/or your reason for receiving child care fee subsidy changes, you must contact your Subsidy Eligibility worker within 48 hours. Depending on the changes, you may require a re-assessment.

Failure to report changes may result in payments owing to the City of Hamilton.

You must provide your current child care provider with a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice.  It is your responsibility to inform your Subsidy Eligibility worker of any changes to you child care arrangements.

Everyone has the right to appeal an eligibility decision. Appeals must be submitted to the child care fee subsidy office in writing.  Any new information relevant to your situation may also be submitted with your appeal. All appeal decisions will be sent by mail to your home address.  Appeal Form (PDF, 145 KB)

If prior to your annual review you experience a significant change in your income (reduction of 20% or more to your annual income) you may qualify for a reduction in your monthly contribution towards child care.  Contact your Subsidy Eligibility worker for further details.

Your child is permitted to be absent from a centre due to illness, vacation and unexpected absences up to a maximum allowable limit.  You are responsible for fees incurred beyond these limits.  It is your responsibility to inform the child care centre of all absences. Fee Subsidy may be terminated if your child fails to attend on a regular basis.

If your child is absent for 5 consecutive days in a month or if you have concerns about your child’s attendance contact your Subsidy Eligibility worker.

If you have extenuating circumstances that have led to absences submit a Request Increase to Sick/Absent Days Form (PDF, 180 KB) for consideration prior to exhausting your allowable absences limits.  Supporting documentation may be required.

You must notify your Subsidy Eligibility worker within 48 hours of any of the below changes:

  • Start of finish school/training program
  • Change in marital status – such as: separate, divorce, marry or common law
  • Change in family composition (new baby, child, custody)
  • Loss or change in employment (laid off, decreased hours of work, medical leave or change employers)
  • Start maternity leave/parental leave
  • Address/phone number change
  • Change in income – Employment Insurance, Ontario Work, Ontario  Disability Support Program or Workplace Safety Insurance Board

Failure to report these changes may result in payments owing to the City of Hamilton.

Siblings may continue to receive child care fee subsidy until the beginning of a maternity/parental leave.  If medical complications arise and your leave begins early, medical documentation is required.  Prior approval is required from the Subsidy Eligibility worker if your child is to remain in subsidized care.

Once your baby is born, your subsidy file will be placed on a Break in Service.  A Break in Service permits you to keep your eligibility for child care fee subsidy while not actively receiving it.  Reinstatement of child care fee subsidy must be approved by the Subsidy Eligibility worker.  Contact your subsidy worker three months prior to when you need subsidy to resume. Should you fail to contact your subsidy team within 12 months of the start of your Break in Service your subsidy file will be terminated. 

You may qualify for a period of 3 months of continued subsidy to secure employment. You must seek approval from your Subsidy Eligibility worker to review your eligibility for a looking for work term.  A looking for work term is available only once in a 12 month period and for a maximum of 3 months. 

Office location
Child Care Subsidy
Lister Block Building
28 James Street North, 6th Floor
Hamilton, Ontario L8R 2K1

Mailing address
City of Hamilton Community Services
Child Care Subsidy
Lister Block Building, 6th Floor
P.O. Box 2040
Hamilton, Ontario L8P 4Y5

Contact us
Phone: 905-546-4870
Email: childcare@hamilton.ca
Fax: 905-546-3064
Office hours: Monday-Friday. 8:30 am to 4:30 pm