Frequently Asked Questions about Child Care
Frequently Asked Questions about Child Care
The Australian child care system is complex and takes time to navigate. CareforKids.com.au has been a hub of information and resources for Australian parents looking for child care for close to 15 years, and over this time we have amassed a considerable amount of information and experience about the early childhood education and care sector. In addition, parents regularly email us for answers to questions and clarifications on some of the more complex aspects of the system. We have used these questions as the basis for our Parent Library and this FAQs article, which we hope serves as a useful starting point.
What is high quality child care?
In a high quality early childhood education and care service your child will feel happy, safe and secure and have the opportunity to engage in a wider range of play based learning experiences. A service’s assessment against the National Quality Standard can be a useful starting point for measuring quality, however, parents are well advised to take the time to visit a service and talk to the educators.
For detailed information read What is High Quality Child Care?
What types of child care are there?
There is a wide range of early childhood education and care services available to families in Australia. Most child care providers attract the Child Care Subsidy and are subject to quality standards set by the National Quality Standard.
Child care services include family day care, long day care, preschool and more, but there are variations within those categories such as Steiner and Montessori programs and long day care centres which offer a preschool program.
To read more information about the different child care services available in Australia read What Types of Child Care Are There?
Where do I find child care?
Finding high quality child care when and where you need it is a challenge for many families of young children. CareforKids.com.au has been supporting Australian families with their child care search for close to 16+ years, and we offer a wide range of search tools, articles and resources which will make the process simple and successful. Why not visit our website now and see what you can find?
Which child care is best?
Each family has a unique set of needs and each child has a unique personality, which means there is no ‘best’ child care in the general sense. However, when choosing the best child care for your family it’s helpful to consider:
- When you need child care
- Where you need child care
- Your budget
- Your child's temperament, interests and needs
- Your values and parenting philosophies
You can then discuss these needs with the services you visit, weigh up the pros and cons of the various offerings and make a decision based on a thorough assessment of all the available information.
To learn more about the pros and cons of the different types of child care read Which Child Care is Best?
Who do I contact if I have a problem with my child care provider?
Child care providers are required to have a policy about how complaints are managed and you can ask to see this policy before you enrol in a service. Having said that, regular and ongoing communication with your child care provider will help you deal with small issues before they have the opportunity to escalate into bigger problems.
If you are struggling to solve a problem via direct communication with your service you can contact the regulatory authority in your State or Territory for support and information.
To learn more read How to Manage Issues with Your Child Care Service.
What are child care centres?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics long day care centres or child care centres are the most commonly used type of child care among Australian parents and it’s no real surprise, with the generally high standard of care and long opening hours. The National Quality Standards mean educators working in long day care centres are required to hold minimum qualifications and the ratio of children to carers is decreasing, with better understanding about the importance of the early years for children’s development. Children in long day care centres have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of stimulating and age appropriate play based learning experiences.
To learn more read What are Child Care Centres?
What’s the difference between a nanny and an au pair?
For families wanting home based care, nannies and au pairs are an excellent option offering flexible, individual care in a familiar environment. Although nannies and au pairs both offer child care services, they are quite different and offer a different experience for families.
Nannies can be live in or live out and tend to be experienced local child carers, whereas au pairs are young people from abroad who come to Australia on a restricted Visa to live in and support a family with child care, as they practice English and experience a different way of life.
To learn more about the nannies and au pairs read What is the Difference Between a Nanny and an Au Pair?
What are my options for out of school hours care?
Out of school hours care is child care offered to cover the time difference between the working day and the school day and covers mornings, afternoons and holidays. In outside school hours care, primary school aged children participate in a wide range of age appropriate play based learning experiences under the supervision of a team of qualified and experienced educators. Like child care for younger children, outside school hours care is subject to the National Quality Standards and restricted ratios and some providers attract the Child Care Subsidy.
To learn more read Outside School Hours Care – An Overview.
What is the best age to start child care?
Children are amazingly flexible and resilient, even from a young age, which means that your child will adapt to a high quality child care environment no matter what age they start. Having said that, there are some variables worth considering when weighing up the options, such as whether your child is comfortable in large or small group settings and whether they are likely to cope well if an educator changes.
To learn more about the factors to consider when deciding when to start your child in care read What is the Best Age to Start Child Care?
What do I look for in a child care centre?
Expensive websites and social media feeds of happy kids practising yoga are attractive and can be informative, but the absolute best way to get a feel for a child care service is to take your child and visit a few during the day. Most providers have open days and/or will be happy to organise a tour and many services also have a drop in policy, which means you are welcome to pop in anytime.
Read The Value of Visiting Child Care Services to learn what you will gain from visiting a handful of your preferred services and be sure to take a copy of our checklist so you know what to look out for while you are there.
How do I choose a child care centre?
There are many different variables to consider when choosing a child care service for your family:
- Location – does the service need to be close to home or work or somewhere else?
- Cost – what are the fees and what do they include?
- Availability – does the service have the days you require? Are casual spots available?
- Staff – do you and your children like the staff and feel welcome?
- Facilities – are the rooms and gardens interesting, well organised and inspirational?
- Food – can you see the weekly menus and are special requirements catered for?
- Sleep – what is the service’s approach to sleep and rest time? Are they flexible with children who want to skip a nap?
- Program – are the activities interesting and varied?
- Quality- has the service been assessed by ACECQA and what was the rating?
- Communication – does the service offer digital or paper based learning stories where you can see what children do during the day?
For detailed information read How do I Choose a Child Care Centre?
How much does child care cost?
It’s hard to miss the headlines about the spiralling costs of child care, and affordability is a huge issue for families of young children. Price varies according to location, inclusions, extracurricular offerings and is not regulated by government.
Financial support via the Child Care Subsidy is available to help families with the cost of care. For more information about cost and the subsidy system read our articles How Much Does Child Care Cost and the Single Child Care Subsidy.
What can I do if I can’t find child care?
Many parents struggle to secure a spot in their preferred child care service when they need it. While a single provider offering all day care may seem like the easiest option, if you are languishing on a waitlist you may need to do a little lateral thinking to solve your child care problems.
Read What to do when You Can’t Find Child Care for short and long-term solutions you may not have considered.
How do I keep my child healthy in child care?
It is a fact of life that children in group care get sick. They have increased exposure to other children, and play closely with shared toys. In addition, children have lower resistance to germs than adults, due to their immature immune system. This means that many families face an almost constant barrage of illness in the first months of starting care. Child care providers have clear policies around hygiene and managing outbreaks and work hard to contain the spread of germs. There’s also plenty you can do at home to support your child to stay well.
Be sure to read Keeping Your Child Healthy in Child Care for lots of helpful tricks.
What can I do if my child gets bitten in child care?
Parents often ask us what they can do if their child is bitten while in care. It’s such an upsetting experience for everyone and parents of children who are bitten may struggle with anger and frustration, especially if the provider refuses to identify the child who did the biting.
Our article, Successfully Dealing With a Child Who Bites offers a range of useful coping strategies for the parents of a child who is bitten and for parents of a child who bites.
These are the most common questions we are asked by parents seeking child care. If you have a child care question that isn't answered here please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 01 October 2020
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