Welcome to Carnets de route

Carnets de route contains information specifically aimed at refugees and refugee claimants, as well as the people assisting them. Carnets de route is intended to help you with the process of settling in when you arrive and during your first few years in Québec. 

 

With Carnets de route, you will enjoy an engaging experience: reliable, organized and accessible information about Québec society, steps to take, to-do lists, timelines, summary diagrams and much more!

 

Select whether you would like to view the website in English or French, then answer the following three questions to be directed to the right information.

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Your profile

Refugee Claims

You have made a refugee claim at a port of entry or from inside Canada. You are waiting for your hearing to determine whether you will be recognized as a refugee or person in need of protection.

Accepted Refugee Claims

After making a refugee claim in Canada, you have had your hearing and have been recognized as a refugee or person in need of protection. You can apply for permanent residency.

Refused Refugee Claims

You have had your hearing and have not been recognized as a refugee or person in need of protection. You are exploring the different options available to you.

Refugees

You arrived in Canada as a refugee and with permanent residency. You are being supported by a host organization or sponsorship group (sponsor) during your first year in Québec.

Daycare and Education

Key organizations and individuals

1. Updates – Daycare and education

The content of Carnets de route was updated in November 2023, unless otherwise indicated. Some elements may have changed since then. If in doubt, consult the sources and resources in this section. You can also report any information requiring change through Technical Support. Update dates may vary by section.

2. Daycare centres

(Cleveland, Hanley, Salamanca Cardona, Manuel, et al., 2021; Collectif Bienvenue, 2023c; MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) , 2023; Ministère de la Famille, 2023b, 2023a; Ministère des Finances, 2023; Naître et grandir, 2019; Place 0-5, 2022; Ville de Sherbrooke, 2023a)

2.1 Types of daycare centres

We have chosen to use the term “daycare centres” rather than “childcare” for ease of understanding.

In Québec, daycare centres are available for children aged 0–5. Daycare centres can be full-time or part-time. The maximum number of children per early childhood educator is a ratio that varies depending on the age of the children and type of daycare centre. Different daycare centres also have different hours. Contact the daycare centre directly to find out more. 

The people who work with the children are generally early childhood educators.

Here are the different types of daycare centres:

CPEs

  • CPEs are often located in public buildings.
  • Generally, children play with other children of the same age group.
  • These are government-subsidized public daycare centres. The cost is $8.85 per day, per child.

Home childcare services

  • The children generally stay at the house or apartment of the daycare provider. 
  • The number of children is limited to nine.
  • Generally, children play with children of different ages. 
  • Recognized home childcare services are overseen by the neighbourhood or regional Coordinating Office.
  • These daycare centres may be: 
    • Subsidized: $8.85 per day, per child 
    • Unsubsidized: costs set by the daycare centre, generally between $30 and $70 per day, per child.

Private daycare centres

  • The children are in a facility that is generally a private building.
  • These daycare centres may be: 
    • Subsidized: $8.85 per day, per child 
    • Unsubsidized: costs set by the daycare centre, generally between $30 and $70 per day, per child.

Community drop-in daycare centres

  • Community drop-in daycare centres are generally located at community organizations or in public buildings.
  • Parents who are learning French sometimes have access to drop-in daycare centres during their French courses.
  • Generally, children are only there for a few hours.
  • Generally, children play with children of different ages.
  • Drop-in daycare centres are generally free or low-cost.

A daycare service may be offered free of charge to parents taking a French course. Check with the institution or organization where you are taking your French course, if any.

2.2 Finding a daycare space

Finding a daycare space can be difficult and time-consuming, depending on where you live. Start looking for a daycare centre as soon as possible. Your host organization or sponsorship group can help you find a daycare space.

La Place 0–5 is a platform where you can register your child and reserve a space in a recognized daycare centre in Québec.

As soon as you arrive and/or are expecting a child, register on the La Place 0–5 website and get on the waitlists for daycare centres you are interested in.  

In addition to registering with La Place 0–5, you can contact daycare centres directly. 

To find their contact information:

Find a daycare centre – Government of Québec

Find a drop-in daycare centre – Association des haltes-garderies communautaires du Québec 

3. Preschool, elementary and secondary education

(Collectif Bienvenue, 2023c; Gouvernement du Québec, 2023u; Jobin-Théberge & Bombardier, 2020b; Le centre de réfugiés, s. d.; MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) , 2023; Ministère de l’Éducation du Québec, s. d.; Qualifications Québec, 2020b; Ville de Sherbrooke, 2023b)

In Québec, education is compulsory for children aged 6 to 16. The vast majority start kindergarten at age five and then attend elementary and secondary school. Public school is free, although fees for supervision, materials and transportation may apply.

3.1 Education levels

Kindergarten (preschool)
Length: one to two years

Kindergarten classes are usually held at an elementary school starting at age five. Some schools also offer kindergarten starting at age four.

Elementary school
Length: six years

Students have the same teacher for core subjects and different teachers for specialized subjects (sports, English, music, etc.). Often, elementary schools also have kindergarten classes, but they rarely have secondary school classes, which are held in another building.

Secondary school
Length: five years

Students have different teachers for each subject. Some subjects are mandatory and others are optional. There are also programs of study based on students’ interests. Students must take ministerial examinations in secondary school.

Vocational training
Length: varies

Generally, from the age of 15, students can choose to study a specific trade (see Vocational training). The training location may vary.

Elementary and secondary education is only available to children up to the age of 18 (or 21 for students with disabilities). To find out what options are available after the age of 18, see Studying after the age of 18, Vocational training and Adult general education.

Many jobs require a level of education equivalent to a secondary school or vocational training diploma.

3.2 Registration

(Centre de services scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, 2023; TCRITable de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes , 2014a)

Your host organization or sponsorship group can help you register your child in school.

You have the right to register your child in school even if you have not yet received your Refugee Protection Claimant Document and only have your Acknowledgement of Claim. Some schools may not be used to registering children who are refugee claimants. Don’t hesitate to ask a counsellor to help you with registration.

3.2.1 Steps to follow

  1. It is recommended that you move into permanent accommodation (rather than temporary accommodation) before registering your child in school. Otherwise, they may have to change schools after moving.
  2. If you need help with this process, see Academic support.
  3. Contact the CSSCentre de services scolaires nearest your permanent accommodation.
  4. The CSSCentre de services scolaires will invite you to a meeting to get to know you better and evaluate your child’s level of French, if needed. See Meeting with the CSS.
  5. The CSSCentre de services scolaires will assign you to a public school that is tuition-free. Your child may be sent to a school further from home if they need special services (French courses, learning support services, etc.).
  6. The CSSCentre de services scolaires will ask you for various documents to register your child in school. 
    • If you do not have your child’s birth certificate, you must make a sworn declaration explaining your situation. See Academic support for resources that can help and Certified translations in the Read This Information First section for the directory of commissioners for oaths.
    • If you have your child’s birth certificate, the birth certificate must be translated into French or English. In many CSSs, the confirmation of permanent residency for the parents and child can replace the birth certificate if this is not in English or French. See 8. Certified translations in the Read This Information First section.
  7. After registration, your child will be invited to visit the school. You will be told how the school works and given a list of school supplies to buy.
  8. Once your child is registered in a school, you must renew their registration every year, usually in February. Renewal is done directly with your child’s school. If your child is finishing elementary school and must register in secondary school, pay attention to the registration period. It often takes place early, up to a year before your child starts secondary school.

Find a centre de services scolaires – Fédération des centres de services scolaires au Québec

If your child is assigned to a school that is not suitable, you can apply to register at a school of your choice. However, the application may be denied. To find a school in Québec:

Trouver une école | Ministère de l’Éducation [French only]

3.2.2 Meeting with the CSSCentre de services scolaires

The goal of this meeting is for the CSSCentre de services scolaires to get to know you and your child better and to help you understand the Québec school system. You will discuss your child’s background (immigration and academic experience) and overall development (health, interests). You can bring documents (school report cards, health records, etc.) and ask questions.

If necessary, your child’s level of French will be evaluated. This evaluation is not a performance test; it is designed to measure their level of French and their knowledge of various subjects. This helps determine what support your child needs and which school can provide this support.

3.3 Learning French

If your child speaks limited French, they may be placed temporarily in a welcome class, or in a regular class with additional support to learn French.

Welcome class
Regular class with French support

Welcome services for newcomers vary from one CSSCentre de services scolaires to another and one school to another.

3.4 How schools work

(TCRITable de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes , 2014b)

The way Québec schools work and their educational mission may differ from what you have experienced in the past. It is normal to go through an adjustment period to understand all the particular features of the Québec school system. If you have questions or need help with your child’s school, see Academic support.

3.4.1 School calendar

Generally, the school calendar is as follows:

Start of the school year

Late August

End of the school year

Late June

School holidays

Two weeks between late December and early January

One week in late February or early March (spring break)

Refer to your child’s school calendar for the exact dates.

Schools are normally open from Monday to Friday. As indicated in the school calendar, schools are sometimes closed on a Monday or Friday for statutory holidays or pedagogical days.

3.4.2 School fees

Although public schools are free, some costs apply. The school will inform you about these costs.

Lunch service (if your child stays at school for lunch)

This cost includes supervision for your child. You must provide your child’s lunch or give them money to buy it themselves. Some schools have a different way of doing things, like meal tickets for lunch.

Elementary school daycare service (if your child arrives at school before classes start or stays at school after classes end)

This cost includes supervision for your child. Some schools also offer this service on pedagogical days. These expenses are tax-deductible, so keep your receipts for your tax return.

School supplies

Before the start of the school year, the school will send you a list of supplies to buy (pencils, notebooks, binders, etc.). The school may also provide specific materials (for example, a school agenda and exercise books) and ask you to pay for them.

If you are unable to pay for school supplies, some community organizations can provide them free of charge. See Academic support for directories of organizations. You can also apply for a special “School fees” benefit if you are receiving social assistance or social solidarity. Also see Academic support for support specifically for refugee claimants.

If you qualify for the Québec family allowance, you will automatically receive a supplement to purchase school supplies before the start of the school year.

Schools offer extracurricular recreational, sports or cultural activities that take place at school or on field trips. There may be a fee for some of these activities. They are always optional.

If you are facing financial insecurity, see Academic support. There are resources that can help you work out an arrangement, if needed. For example, if you are receiving social assistance, social and family support programs are available to help you cover the above-mentioned costs.

3.4.3 Contacting the school

Don’t hesitate to contact the school if you have any questions or information to share. There are many ways for you to contact the school: 

  • School secretary
  • Your child’s agenda (particularly for teachers)
  • Phone (for example, if your child is running late or will be absent)
  • Email
  • The school’s online portal
  • A meeting with the teacher (in the fall, most schools organize a meeting between teachers and parents to discuss their children’s progress at school).

You can also schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher at any time, if needed.

It is important to keep your contact details up to date with your child’s school so they can get in touch with you easily.

If necessary, you can ask the school or CSSCentre de services scolaires for interpretation services when you meet with the teacher. However, they may not be able to meet this need.

3.5 For more information

Québec school system tool – TCRITable de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes  

Information kit | Government of Québec 

Multilingual – Pamphlets about the school system for immigrant parents

Main website in French only

4. Academic support

(Collectif Bienvenue, 2023c; Jobin-Théberge & Bombardier, 2020b; TCRITable de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes , 2021)

4.1 Resources to support you

(211, s. d.; Le centre de réfugiés, 2022; Ministère de la famille, 2020)

You can ask community organizations for help if you or your child needs assistance with daycare or school, for example if you need help registering your child in school, if you are worried about their development, if you have trouble communicating with the school, etc. 

At some community organizations, counsellors (sometimes called ICCs) who specialize in academic support or early childhood can help you with various processes.

Find a family community organization – Fédération québécoise des organismes communautaires Famille 

Naître et grandir 

Information for future parents and parents of children aged 0–8

Find a social pediatrics centre – Alliance québécoise de la pédiatrie sociale en communauté  

Support for youth and families in difficulty

Academic Aid – The Refugee Centre

Help applying for a study permit, finding computers and post-secondary bursaries, etc.

211

Multilingual – Information and referral service for social and community services

4.2 Support for students and parents

Alloprof and Alloprof Parents 

Free academic support throughout Québec

Tel-jeunes

Support for youth 

Phone, text and chat available

Text: 514-600-1002

Tel-jeunes – Parents 

Support for parents of youth

Phone and chat available

Many schools and community organizations offer tutoring and homework assistance programs. Contact your child’s school or your community organization to find out what resources are available near you.

4.3 Evaluation and referral

(Gouvernement du Québec, 2023g; TCRITable de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes , 2014a, 2014b)

If your child is having serious issues at school, it may be wise to have them evaluated by a specialist (speech therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, etc.). This evaluation could give them access to specialized services that meet their needs. 

You can get help from:

  • Your child’s teacher or educator
  • The school counsellor from your host organization 
  • A community or early childhood counsellor (ex., an ICC) 
  • A CLSCLocal community service centre counsellor 
  • A community organization
  • A PRAIDAProgramme régional d’accueil et d’intégration des demandeurs d’asile (English: Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Refugee Claimants) social worker
  • A doctor
  • A private clinic

4.4 Special needs

(Gouvernement du Québec, 2023g; TCRITable de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes , 2014a, 2014b)

Special needs can be physical, psychosocial, intellectual or learning difficulties and may require specific support.

For students with special needs, a variety of services can generally be offered: specialized classes and schools, adapted transportation, adapted programs of study, learning resources, etc. 

Contact the school staff or CLSCLocal community service centre to find out which services may be available.

Finding a CLSCLocal community service centre – Government of Québec

5. Vocational training

(Centre de formation professionnelle Marie-Rollet, 2023; Centre de services scolaire de la Région-de-Sherbrooke, 2022; Centre de services scolaire des Grandes-Seigneuries, 2020a, 2020b; Centre de services scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, s. d.; Jobin-Théberge & Bombardier, 2020a; MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) , 2023; Qualifications Québec, 2020b; Ville de Sherbrooke, 2023b)

Generally, from the age of 15, students can choose to pursue vocational training. This is practical training that takes place on the job or in a workshop. You can gain technical skills that will accelerate your entry into the job market. Some vocational training leads to semiskilled trades.

This training is also available to adults, and you can start at any time. Check the admission requirements of the program that interests you.

Types of training and diplomas and average time (for full-time studies)

DVSDiploma of Vocational Studies

One to two years

STCSkills Training Certificate

240 to 720 hours

AVSAttestation of Vocational Specialization Attestation of Vocational Specialization  after your DVSDiploma of Vocational Studies

Three to six months

TCSTTraining Certificate for a Semiskilled Trade

Approximately 900 hours (over a school year)

PWTPreWork Training

Approximately 2,700 hours (over three school years)

Courses are tuition-free when offered by public institutions.

If you want to pursue vocational training and are over 18 years of age, see Studying after the age of 18.

Inforoute FPT – Compétences Québec

Information about vocational and technical training in Québec

6. Adult general education

(Jobin-Théberge & Bombardier, 2020a; MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) , 2023; Ministère de l’Éducation, 2023; Qualifications Québec, 2020b; Ville de Sherbrooke, 2023b)

Elementary and secondary education is only available to children up to the age of 18 (or 21 for students with disabilities).

If a person aged 16 or over has not completed elementary or secondary school or has difficulty reading or writing, they can take general education courses equivalent to their level of study at an adult education centre. Adult general education is sometimes called “school for adults” or “secondary school for adults.” The CSSCentre de services scolaires in your area can direct you to the nearest adult education centre.

Find a centre de services scolaires – Fédération des centres de services scolaires au Québec

Info-Alpha 

Find literacy classes (in French) or literacy and French classes

7. Post-secondary education (CEGEP and university)

(Jobin-Théberge & Bombardier, 2020a; MIFIMinistère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (du Québec) , 2023; Qualifications Québec, 2020b; Statistiques Canada, 2022; Ville de Sherbrooke, 2023b)

After secondary school, you can continue to study at CEGEP and at university.

Remember that you can go back to school at any age.

7.1 CEGEP

CEGEPs (general and vocational colleges) offer pre-university and technical training. You must have successfully completed secondary school to study there. Also check the admission requirements for each program. 

Each year of CEGEP can have up to three terms: fall, winter and summer. When you finish CEGEP, you receive a DCSDiploma of College Studies  .

Types of training and diplomas

Pre-university training

General program leading to university studies

Average time (for full-time studies): two years

Technical training

A technical program that aims to help people enter the job market and can also lead to university

Average time (for full-time studies): three years

The cost of studying full-time is approximately $200 per term. 

For steps to follow for refugee claimants, see Studying after the age of 18. To calculate how much it will cost you to attend CEGEP here:

Cost of education – Les cégeps du Québec

Calculator for college studies in Québec

7.2 University

(Université Concordia, s. d.; Université Laval, s. d.)

To study at university, check the admission requirements of each program. You can be admitted after completing college studies or as an adult (age 21 or over). 

Each year of university can have up to three terms: fall, winter and summer. The costs for each term vary according to the university and program, but start at around $1,500.

Types of training and diplomas

Bachelor’s degree

Undergraduate program

Average time: three to four years

Certificate

Undergraduate program

Average time: one year or more

SSHGDSecondary School Honour Graduation Diploma

Graduate program

Average time: one year

Master’s

Graduate program

Average time: generally two years of study and writing a thesis or completing an internship

PhD

Graduate program

Average time: generally three to five years of study and writing a dissertation

The average times indicated above are for full-time studies.

For steps to follow for refugee claimants, see Studying after the age of 18.

7.3 Financial assistance

(Gouvernement du Québec, 2023b)

You may be eligible for loans and bursaries from the Government of Québec through the SFAStudent Financial Assistance program program. Loans must be paid back after your studies, but not bursaries.

As a refugee claimant, you are not entitled to loans or bursaries through the SFAStudent Financial Assistance program program. 

Many other types of post-secondary bursaries are available. Contact the scholarship and financial assistance office at your educational institution for more details.

To-do list


Daycare and Education
Daycare centres
  • See the Daycare and Education section of the Carnets de route website to find out how the education system works in Québec and for more details

  • Find a daycare

    • Register with La Place 0–5

    • Contact daycare centres to find out what spaces are available, if any

    • Find drop-in daycare centres

    • Search for parent support groups by neighbourhood or region on social media

Preschool, elementary and secondary education
  • See the Daycare and Education section of the Carnets de route website to find out how the education system works in Québec and for more details

  • Register your child in school

    • Once you have found your housing, contact the CSSCentre de services scolaires in your area

    • Attend the child’s interview with the CSSCentre de services scolaires and their French evaluation, if any

      Interview date:

    • Submit your registration documents to the CSSCentre de services scolaires

    • Visit the school your child has been assigned to

      Date of school visit:

    • Pay any fees for the school registration or supplies, if any

    • Find out how to communicate with the school (phone, email, agenda, etc.)

  • Get familiar with the school calendar and important dates

    Fall meeting with your child’s teachers: Meeting date

    School calendar: Start date End date

  • Re-register your child every year

    Registration period for your child’s school:

Adult general education or vocational training
  • See the Daycare and Education section of the Carnets de route website to find out how the education system works in Québec and for more details

  • Start a course (high tuition fees after the age of 18)

    Registration period for the educational institution:

    • Find out about the various options and training courses available

Post-secondary education (CEGEP or university)
  • See the Daycare and Education section of the Carnets de route website to find out how the education system works in Québec and for more details

  • Pursue post-secondary education (high tuition fees after the age of 18)

    Registration period for the educational institution:

    • Find out about the different programs and admission requirements

Steps for special needs or difficulties
  • Talk to the teacher (for a child) and/or a specialized counsellor at the educational institution

  • Consult a specialist outside the educational institution, if necessary

Change of address and contact details
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