Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements (SELCCA)

Detailed information for 2023





Record number:


Statistics Canada gathers information on early learning and child care arrangements for children under the age of 6 in the 3 territories of Canada.

Data release - December 5, 2023


The Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements, sponsored by Employment and Social Development Canada, gathers information from parents and guardians on early learning and child care arrangements for children aged 0 to 5. The survey asks parents and guardians about the arrangements they use for their child, including the associated costs, the difficulties they may have faced when looking for care, and what their preferences for child care are. Results from this survey will be used to help improve the Canada-wide early learning and child care system and provide Canadians with a strong baseline of data to measure progress and changes to the system.


  • Child care
  • Children and youth

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population is children in the three territories of Canada who are less than 6 years old (as of June 15, 2023). Children living on reserves are excluded from the target population.

Instrument design

The content for the Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements electronic questionnaire was drafted in consultation with Statistics Canada's Health Analysis Division, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), as well as several external subject matter experts.

Previous SELCCA questionnaires underwent cognitive testing in the form of in-depth interviews in both of Canada's official languages and were conducted by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre. The goal of the qualitative study was to test the survey content.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

Survey frame:
The SELCCA sample was selected from the Canada Child Benefit (CCB).

Sampling unit:
This is a targeted respondent survey. The sampling unit is the person knowledgeable about the child care arrangements for a child who lives in their household and is less than 6 years of age.

Stratification method:
The frame for the Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements was stratified by territory and a simple random sample was selected independently within each territory.

Sampling and sub-sampling:
Sufficient sample was allocated to each of the territories so that the survey could produce territorial level estimates. An initial sample of 3,000 targeted respondents was selected and sent to collection. The selection of a sample unit is done in two stages. First, a simple random sample of CCB recipients is selected. The second stage consists of selecting randomly, for each recipient selected, a child among the recipient's eligible children. A child is eligible if they are less than 6 years old.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2023-04-05 to 2023-06-15

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents either through an electronic questionnaire (EQ), through computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) or through computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI).

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

Electronic files containing the daily transmissions of completed respondent survey records were combined to create the "raw" survey file. Before further processing, verification was performed to identify and eliminate potential duplicate records and to drop non-response and out-of-scope records.

In addition, some out-of-scope respondent records were found during the data clean-up stage. All respondent records that were determined to be out-of-scope and those records that contained no data were removed from the data file.

After the verification stage, editing was performed to identify errors and modify affected data at the individual variable level. The first editing step was to identify errors and determine which items from the survey output needed to be kept on the survey master file. Subsequent to this, invalid characters were deleted and the remaining data items were formatted appropriately.


Not applicable.


The estimation of population characteristics from a sample survey is based on the premise that each person in the sample represents a certain number of other persons in addition to themselves. This number is called the 'survey weight'. The process of computing survey weights for each survey respondent involves several steps.

1) Each selected respondent is given an initial weight equal to the inverse of its selection probability from the sampling frame (CCB). Respondents identified as out-of-scope during collection are dropped from the sample.

2) The respondents' weights are then adjusted to take into account non-response based on geography and households characteristics (number of eligible children in the household, age of the respondent, and household income estimated from the CCB file).

The person weights are calibrated to demography projections by geography, by child age, and by Indigenous identity separately.

Variance estimation is done by a bootstrap re-sampling method.

The Generalized Estimation System from Statistics Canada (G-Est) was used to generate the survey weights and bootstrap weights.

Quality evaluation

While rigorous quality assurance mechanisms are applied at all stages of the statistical process, the validation and detailed review of data by statisticians is the ultimate verification of quality prior to release. Many validation measures were implemented, they include:

a. Verification of estimates through cross-tabulations
b. Consultation with stakeholders internal to Statistics Canada
c. Consultation with external stakeholders

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Data accuracy

Survey errors come from a variety of different sources. One dimension of survey error is sampling error. Sampling error is defined as the error that arises because an estimate is based on a sample rather than the entire population. Sampling error can be expressed through a confidence interval (CI) or coefficient of variation (CV).

The following are approximate sampling error estimates for Canada level estimates. These are based on average results; these are not results for a specific variable.

- Approximate length of 95% confidence intervals for a proportion of 50% (across the three territories together): 5%
- Approximate length of 95% confidence intervals for a proportion of 10% (across the three territories together): 3%
- Approximate coefficients of variation (CVs) for a proportion of 10% (across the three territories together): 8%

Response rate:
The response rate for the Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements for the territories was 51.3%.

Non sampling error:
The first type of errors treated were errors in questionnaire flow. For skips based on answered questions, all skipped questions were set to "Valid skip" (6, 96, 996, etc.). For skips based on "Non-response", all skipped questions were set to "Not stated" (9, 99, 999, etc.). The remaining empty items were filled with a numeric value (9, 99, 999, etc., depending on variable length). These codes are reserved for processing purposes and mean that the item was "Not stated".

Non-response bias:
The survey estimates are adjusted to account for non-response through the survey weights. To the extent that the non-responding persons differ from the rest of the sample, the results may be biased.

Coverage error:
Coverage errors arise when there are differences between the target population and the observed population. The target respondent is the person knowledgeable (aged 15 years and older) about the child care arrangements for a child who lives in the household and is less than 6 years old. The survey frame is the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) file and it contains every parent or guardian who is registered to receive a benefit. It is estimated that the frame represents around 85% of the population of children aged 0-5 years in the territories; about half this the undercoverage is due to the newborn children not yet on our extraction of the CCB. To the extent that the excluded population differs from the rest of the target population, the results may be biased. Note that the children born between March 1, 2023 and June 15, 2023 are not covered by the survey frame.

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