What are my child care and early learning options?
You might need to leave your child in someone else's care - that is, child care - if you have work, study or other commitments. Choosing the right child care and early learning service can be a difficult decision for families. Your decision will depend on your family's needs and the environment with which you and your child will feel most comfortable.
As well as providing care, child care and early learning services provide an opportunity for your child to develop social, emotional and learning skills.
When deciding on the type of care that is best for your child, you may want to ask yourself:
- How many hours of care do I need? The whole day? Just mornings? Just afternoons? Just a few hours a week? Or just occasionally, like when I have an appointment and need someone to look after my children?
- Do I want my child cared for in a home environment or in a centre?
- What kind of qualifications and experience do staff members have?
- Does the service offer a kindergarten/preschool program?
- What learning and play opportunities do I want my child to have?
- What kind of routine will my child have?
- Do I want the service to provide lunch? Can I have a look at a sample meal plan?
- Does the centre provide nappies for children under the age of 2?
- What is the carer-to-child ratio?
- Can I claim Child Care Subsidy if I choose a certain child care and learning service?
Here is a quick description of the different types of child care and early learning services to help you make your decision.
- Long Day Care
- Family Day Care
Long day care
Long Day Care is sometimes referred to as centre-based care and is generally provided in a building or part of a building that has been created specifically for use as a child care centre.
Centres usually operate between 7:30 am and 6:00 pm and offer professional care for children aged 0-6. Children are usually grouped in rooms according to age and developmental stage.
Child care is usually available for all day or part of the day at a centre. Some centres offer morning or afternoon sessions.
Many centres offer meals throughout the day including morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. The types of meals vary from centre to centre. If a centre does not offer meals then families will need to provide their own.
Most Long Day Care centres will have an early education component to their program so children will learn as they are cared for.
Long Day Care centres are run by private companies, local councils, community organisations, individuals, non-profit organisations or by employers for their staff.
The majority of Long Day Care centres are approved child care services. This means that families using the service may be eligible for Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate. Approved services must also show that they are meeting certain quality standards.
Family Day Care
Family Day Care (FDC) services deliver flexible home-based education and care for children via a network of FDC educators. FDC services support and administer the care that is provided, on their behalf, in educators’ homes.
FDC services are responsible for the effective operation of all components of FDC, including recruiting, training and supporting educators; monitoring care provision; and providing advice, support and information for parents.
FDC services can provide flexible care, including all-day care, part-time, casual, overnight, before and after school care, and care during school holidays. Educators do not have any legal right to independently enter into a care arrangement for Child Care Benefit approved care. However, service operators may authorise educators (acting as an agent for their service) to enter into care arrangements on their behalf.
FDC educators and services must meet their obligations under the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care and comply with the Early Childhood Services Education and Care National Law and National Regulations, and any other applicable state and territory regulations, when providing care to children.
An educator may provide care in their home for the maximum number of children, including their own children, in accordance with the National Law and National Regulations.
The content for this article is originally from My Child.