Your end of year child care checklist
Your end of year child care checklist
Whether your under five is launching into early learning or your big kid is beginning school, here are some things to do between now and the new year.
1. Prepare for child care
If your little one is starting child care in January, then it's important that you enrol them in a quality early childhood education and care service (if you haven't already), check that all the paperwork is in order and confirm their start date with staff.
If you're having trouble finding an opening in your area, then the CareforKids.com.au Child Care Search and Vacancy Alert will help, and when it comes to enrolment, your new service will guide you through the process.
Once the admin is sorted, it's important to build good relationships at your new service and help your child prepare for their first day. To do this, you're encouraged to:
- Visit the service and meet with your child's educators.
Get a copy of their daily routine and orientation handbook, ask what your child needs to bring each day, and share any expectations, concerns and queries.
You can ask educators for ways to help your child settle into care, and let them know about your child's interests and needs too (e.g. explaining that your toddler has a special comfort toy or that your preschooler is lactose intolerant).
- Familiarise your youngster with the child care experience.
As well as visiting the child care environment together, you can follow the service's mealtime, playtime and nap schedule at home to get your little one used to the upcoming routine. It also helps to mention your child's main educator by name, and talk positively about the service, people and activities they’ll encounter when they start.
- Consider easing your child into care by booking shorter or fewer days when they first start, then slowly adding extra hours and/or days.
If this is an option, you might need to speak with your employer now about some workplace flexibility next year.
2. Re-enrol for the New Year
If your child is already attending child care and you plan to keep them at the same service next year, then you may need to re-enrol them. Your service will likely get in touch, but if they haven’t, follow up with them to guarantee your child's place. This is also the time to move child care days around if you need to.
3. Organise Out of School Hours Care (OOSH)
If you have a primary school aged child, consider whether you need to enrol or re-enrol them in Outside School Hours Care (OSHC).
OSHC services provide before and after school care, vacation care and child care on pupil-free days, but they won't automatically place your child in next year's sessions, and demand is often high. You'll need to get in touch with your OSHC service ahead of time to confirm your child care needs.
4. Claim the Child Care Subsidy
If you're using child care for the first time, then the good news is that the Government subsidises eligible families' child care costs through the Child Care Subsidy (CCS).
This isn't automatic, though. You must claim this subsidy before receiving any reduction in child care fees, and your family income, parental activity and choice of care dictates how much financial assistance you'll receive.
To apply for the CCS, you'll need to set up an online Centrelink account (if you don't have one already) linked to myGov, provide various supporting documents and wait for your CCS Assessment Notice.
5. Confirm your enrolment online
The Government will only pay the CCS once you've confirmed your child's child care enrolment, so check that this has happened in your Centrelink account.
If your child is moving to a new child care service or hasn't attended their existing one for eight continuous weeks, then you'll need to ask your service to submit new enrolment details, then confirm them in your online account.
Likewise, if you're applying for the CCS for the first time and see that your child's enrolment details haven't been confirmed, you'll need to ask your service to submit their enrolment, then confirm it online.
6. Update your Child Care Subsidy details
If your child is continuing to attend approved care, then it's important that your CCS details are up-to-date, to ensure you don’t get overpaid and end up with a Centrelink debt.
There's no need to tell the Government about changes to your child's care hours, but you will need to update your Centrelink account if:
- Your child is starting school next year
- There have been changes to you or your partner's income or activity levels
- There have been changes to your care arrangements or personal circumstances
- You have a new address
7. Ensure your child’s vaccinations are up to date
The 'No Jab, No Pay' policy around the CCS, means your child must be fully immunised or on a catch-up schedule to receive the Subsidy. If need be, organise a medical appointment to have their age-appropriate jabs.
On a related note, it's a good idea to book in a dental and health check if your child is starting school next year, to make sure they get a great start.
8. Check for any room changes at their early learning service
As children move between age brackets, they also move between rooms, so check whether your under five is getting a new space and new educators next year. If they are, it's a good idea to visit your service ahead of time and familiarise your child with any new facilities, routines and people. This is also a chance to share information with your new educator and foster a good relationship.
9. Prepare for the transition to school
If your preschooler is moving to primary school next year, then now is the time to build their independence, encourage positivity, attend any transition-to-school programs, nurture their learning and development, and think about practical matters, like uniforms and school supplies.
You can read more about school preparedness here, and during the last weeks at your child's early learning service, it's a good idea to:
- Ask educators for practical advice around school transition, e.g. they may suggest school-themed books to read and skills to practice at home.
- Check if there's any paperwork to be completed before your child's enrolment at the service ends.
- Collect your child’s artwork, reports and any other child care treasures.
- Share your contact details with any child care families, especially if they're going to the same school and are keen for a holiday play date.
- Say a big thank you to your child's educators for the learning, development and care they've shown over the year or years.
Educators play a key role in helping children transition to school and if you're unsure whether your child is school-ready, you can seek advice from your child's educator before making a final decision.
10. Book a babysitter
In between all this organisation, there's also fun to be had, and if you’re planning a social outing towards the end of the year, then don't forget to book your babysitter now.
Our Babysitter Search will put you in touch with quality child-minders in your area, so you’ll be free to celebrate the end of one year and the successful start of another. Cheers to that!
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 29 October 2020
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