An overview of out of school hours (OOSH) and vacation care

An overview of out of school hours (OOSH) and vacation care

What do you do when the school day has finished, but your working day hasn't? How do you keep your child busy during holidays? Out of School Hours (OOSH) care is supervised care and recreation for school-age children:

  • Before and after school
  • On pupil-free days
  • During school holidays (vacation care).

OOSH care is usually associated with schools and caters to primary school children. Most OOSH services are operated by community and private organisations. The government's program is known as Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) or Vacation Care (VC).

Typical hours for OOSH services are:

  • Before school commencing from 6:30am till 9.00 am
  • After school 3.00 pm till 6.00 pm
  • Vacation from 7.00 am till 6.00 pm each week day

The cost of OOSH care Costs of OOSH care vary, but typical fees would be from $15 to $18 per day. There may also be additional charges such as fees for:

  • Annual membership for the centre or organisation
  • Late collection
  • Excursions and special outings during holidays.

Child care benefits are available for eligible families using approved centres. Read more about the Child Care Benefit (CCB) programme or visit the Department of Human Services website.

What will my child be doing at OOSH care? Out Of School Hours care emphasises play, social interaction and recreation. Activities are organised in small and large groups, or children may choose quiet time by themselves (eg to read and do homework).

Some typical activities include:

  • Art and craft
  • Cooking
  • Drama
  • Dance
  • Excursions
  • Games
  • Music
  • Reading
  • Sport.

How to choose the right OOSH service for your child When you are choosing OOSH services, think about:

  • Location. How will my child travel to and from school to the OOSH service?
  • Cost. What are the fees charged, and what do they include?
  • Availability. How far ahead do I need to book? Are places available when I need them?
  • Staff. What qualifications do the staff have?

You should also consider your child's needs and interests:

  • Are the children made to feel welcome by the staff and other children?
  • Can I talk to staff about my child's needs and activities offered?
  • Do the activities suit my child's interests? If my child doesn't want to join in organised activities, is there supervised free play?
  • Is the environment suitable and interesting?
  • Is homework supervised?
  • Are any meals provided? Do they cater to special dietary needs (eg allergies)?
  • Other considerations. Do they administer medication? Do they have a television and is it supervised?

Other options for OOSH care There are some alternative OOSH care options, aside from the services described above. You could:

  • Arrange a routine with your employer and partner for days when your child has sport and music activities. For example, you may need to start work early so you can leave earlier to take your child to their after school activity.
  • Hire a student. High school and university students could look after your child to earn some extra cash, especially during holidays. Find out if your regular student babysitter can help with after school or vacation care. Ask around among your friends and colleagues, or see if you can advertise at a local campus.
  • ‘Time share' with other parents during school holidays. Arrange a roster for care, with each parent taking turns to look after the children for a day. If you can't manage a whole day then organise a series of ‘play dates' for a few hours.
  • Enrol your child in a holiday program. There are many holiday programs available, ranging from daily activities run by council and community centres to week-long camps. Libraries, museums and sporting organisations also run holiday activities. Investigate and book early as vacation care places are limited.

Out of School Hours care lets your child have fun in a relaxed and safe environment. Think about what your child needs and enjoys, and with a bit if planning, you can find the right OOSH care

Use our before and after school care search to find OOSH services in your local area and click here to start your Vacation Care Search.


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