Raising a family

There are a number of programs and services available to families in Canada. Whether your child is still an infant, or is in daycare, preschool, elementary school, or high school, there are programs for you.

For a more complete list of the programs and services that the Government of Canada offers to families, please see either the Services for Families and Children page or the Canada Benefits site.

1. Apply for your child's Social Insurance Number

To receive certain benefits and services from the Government, your child may need a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Young people also need SINs when they get their first paying jobs.

Parents and legal guardians can apply for a Social Insurance Number for children under the age of majority. Children who are 12 or older may apply for their own SINs.

2. Apply for benefits

As a parent, there are a number of federal benefits you may be eligible to receive. Some benefits are available to all families, some depend on the age of the child, and some are available only to low‑income families. These benefits include the following:

  • Canada Child Tax Benefit: The Canada Child Tax Benefit is a tax‑free, monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18. The amount of this benefit is calculated using the information you provide on your income tax returns.
  • Child Disability Benefit: The Child Disability Benefit is a tax‑free benefit for families who care for a child under age 18 with a severe and prolonged impairment in mental or physical functions.
  • Universal Child Care Benefit: The Universal Child Care Benefit is a taxable, $100 monthly payment to families for each child under the age of six to help cover the cost of child care. This benefit helps you pay for whatever child‑care method you choose, including a nanny, baby‑sitter, child care centre, or stay‑at‑home parent, no matter the cost.

If you or your partner is having a baby or adopting a child and you choose to stop working for some time, you can also apply for Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits.

Families with children may also be eligible for benefits from their provincial or territorial governments.

3. Save for your child's education

There are a number of federal programs that can help you save for your child's post‑secondary education, including the following:

  • Registered Education Savings Plan: A registered education savings plan allows savings for education to grow tax‑free in a special savings plan registered by the Government of Canada until your child enrols in a post‑secondary education program. Parents, grandparents, relatives, and friends of a beneficiary may contribute, up to a lifetime limit of $50,000 per child.
  • Canada Education Savings Grant: This federal program helps parents, grandparents, and friends of the family save for a child's post‑secondary education by adding to the amount of money accumulated in the child's registered education savings plan (RESP) when the beneficiary turns 17. The grant is deposited directly into the RESP.
  • Canada Learning Bond: This program was created to help you save for your child's post‑secondary education. The Canada Learning Bond program contributes a $500 bond to registered education savings plans opened by families that receive the National Child Benefit Supplement under the Canada Child Tax Benefit program.

There are also a number of programs, services, and benefits available to your children when they start their post‑secondary education.

Your provincial or territorial government may also offer programs or benefits to help you save for your child's education.

4. Find the support you need

Being a parent with young children can sometimes be hard. There are a number of programs available to help you adjust to your role as a parent.

The Nobody's Perfect program provides parenting education and support to parents of children five years old or younger through a series of weekly group sessions.

The Public Health Agency of Canada offers a number of other family services and programs to provide you with help and support, whether your children are babies, infants, toddlers, or teenagers.

5. Keep your family healthy

As head of your family, it's important that you do what you can to keep your children healthy and safe.

Health Canada and the Healthy Canadians Web sites provide guidance to healthy eating and living. You can also access guides, such as Canada's Food Guide and Canada's Physical Activity Guide for Children and Youth, to help you determine what you should be eating and how much physical activity you should be doing.

The children's fitness tax credit allows parents to claim up to $500 per year for eligible fitness expenses they pay to register a child in a physical-activity program.

Throughout the year, the Department of National Defence offers such programs as the Cadets and the Junior Canadian Rangers. These programs give young people the opportunity to develop leadership skills, increase their physical fitness, and make new friends while enjoying a variety of fun and challenging activities.

Programs that help kids stay active and healthy may also be available through your provincial or territorial government.

6. Keep your family safe

Parents must be aware of a number of health and safety risks around them at all times. There are ways you can avoid accidents and create safe, healthy environments for your children, whether they are at home, at play, or on the road.

Programs to help your kids stay safe and prevent injuries may also be available through your provincial or territorial government.

7. Returning to work after raising your family

Taking time off work to raise a family can be one of the most rewarding decisions you make. When you're ready to return to work, Service Canada offers tools and tips to help you on your journey. Visit the Finding a Job Life Event section of the Service Canada Web site for more information.

See all Life Events.