The lowdown on before and after school care

Published on Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Last updated on Wednesday, 08 December 2021

Article hero image

Leaving child care and heading off to big school is a milestone in so many ways; for children it is a gateway to increased independence and for parents it means no more child care fees!!

However, for working parents there is the dilemma of what to do with the kids before and after school. With a shortage of outside school hour (OSH) places in most of our big cities, it is not safe to assume that because your child is starting school they will automatically have a spot in their local service so it’s important to be organised.     

Generally most schools have a playground teacher on duty from around 8.30 in the morning as the majority of pupils arrive. But be aware that if you drop your children off before this time, there won’t necessarily be anyone there to supervise them.

School hours pose a tricky dilemma for working parents especially in the first weeks in term one kindy, as most kindergarten children are released half an hour earlier than the other children!

The best option is to book your children into Out of School Hours Care if it is available at your school. These centres are generally on the premises or nearby to the school. However, they are not part of the school and are independently run, although they do work closely with the school in terms of providing seamless care particularly for the youngest children, such as picking up kids from their classes.

The key is to book early and book fast. OSH spots can be as rare as hen’s teeth in some schools and never assume you will automatically have a spot simply by enrolling in a school. Once you know which school you are sending your child to call the provider and put your name on the waiting list, this maximises the likelihood of you securing a spot in the all important first term of kindergarten. 

Even if you don’t need a permanent spot OSH services can be useful resource for working parents as they usually have casual spots available. Registering with them means you can contact them to book a spot for your child if you have a scheduled late meeting. For more information on OSH care, click here and to find out about services near you or to check your school has one, click here and pop in your postcode in the search.

Generally speaking OSH services cost families less than child care as ratios are higher and the hours are reduced. If you are using an approved care provider you will also be able to claim the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate.

If you don’t have the option of an OSH centre at your child’s school or if you missed out on a spot this year, then there are some other options you can consider:

  • Grandparents living nearby are a great resource for before and after school care. They love seeing their grandkids on a regular basis (though not ALL day!) and it gives the children and grandparents great bonding time. Of course they may not be able to do this every day but a couple of days a week or just as an emergency back up is always very useful.
  • Nannies and au pairs are often employed for the sole purpose of picking up children after school, helping them with homework and minding them until dinner. Not as expensive as all day care, but very useful and generally a flexible option. Click here to find nannies in your area.
  • Family Day Care – ask some of your local Family Day Care services. These services often offer before and after school care and are often happy to do school drop offs and pick-ups.
  • Non-Working Mums and neighbours: Are there any mums or neighbours you know with kids in the year who could take your child before and after school on a regular or casual basis? Many mums are happy to do this, especially if you compensate them for time and any refreshments etc. It’s also great for helping to build a sense of community.
  • Form a club – if you can do one day a week or a fortnight and you can get enough mums together, then a before and after school club can also work, whereby each mum is allocated a day of the week to do before and after school, so your kids know where they’re going and mums and dads can plan their working week accordingly.
  • After school activities – there are usually after school activities on offer throughout the school term, such as drama, sports, art clubs, foreign languages and music etc. Enrolling your child in these is great for the kids, and buys you a bit of extra time to get back from work although you may still need to arrange transport to and from the venue if the activity isn’t in the school grounds.
  • Employers – most employers will understand and be happy to accommodate child care commitments to an extent, and you have the right to ask for flexibility to manage your child care responsibilities, such as agreeing to no meetings before 8.30am or after 5pm. Be up front about emergencies or child sickness and make sure if both parents work you divide these responsibilities equally so one parent’s job is not affected more than the other.

Right to Request Flexible Working

If you have been working for your employer full or part-time on a permanent or casual basis for 12 months or more, as a parent, you have the right to ask for flexible working arrangements.

These can include, flexible working hours; working more hours over fewer days; job share and flexi time; making up additional hours for hours taken off due to parenting responsibilities.

Your employer is not bound to agree, but generally speaking they will try to accommodate you if they value you as an employee and you don’t overstep the mark!

For more information on flexible working visit Fair Work Australia.

Related Articles

Article image

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

Everything you need to know about Outside School Hours Care including how to find a service near you, costs and school holiday options.

Article image

How to meet the challenges of before and after school care

We look at some ways your family can manage the before and after school care dilemma right now.

Article image

Alternative solutions to outside school hours care

Alternative solutions to outside school hours care.