What is occasional care?

Published on Monday, 05 December 2016
Last updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2022

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What is occasional, casual and flexible care?

Occasional, casual and flexible care is high quality early childhood education offered on an ad hoc basis from as little as one hour to a full day.

Generally speaking, parents only pay for the time their children are in care, however, if you book a half day and collect early, you will have to pay for your full booking. 

Occasional Care Centres

Dedicated occasional care centres have flexible opening hours and can provide for children whose parents work unpredictable hours. Occasional care is subject to the National Quality Standards and is eligible to attract the Child Care Subsidy. 

Occasional care centres are family grouped, meaning siblings stay together, and they’re licensed for children from birth to five years old.

While in occasional care, children have the opportunity to play and learn in a safe, child-focused environment and may engage in painting, craft, dramatic play, language and music activities, gross motor activities, building blocks, playing with puzzles, games and so on.

Occasional care centres can be found across the country and are operated in the community as non-profit organisations. Many are managed by local government councils, and individual centres operate slightly differently to reflect the needs of the community in which they are located.

Families can access occasional care regularly or irregularly and may use it for work and non-work-related reasons. This casual kind of child care is a great stepping stone to long day care or preschool and it:

  • Enables parents to attend meetings and appointments
  • Helps children develop social skills, and
  • Assists families with a limited support network and/or those needing emergency care.

Occasional care centres employ trained and experienced early childhood educators and aim to provide a relaxed, friendly and inclusive environment.

Most occasional centres offer some regular positions and provide a quality program to meet the needs of all children attending the centre.

Casual care in long day care centres

In addition to dedicated occasional care centres, some established long day care providers are now also offering casual care places to families on an as-needed basis.

To manage demand for this service and make it easier for parents to make bookings, there are apps available that cater both to families enrolled in a centre, as well as families who aren’t currently enrolled.

For example, Only About Children offers currently enrolled and new families the opportunity to book Flexi Care at short notice, as and when they need it. Families can choose to book a full day, morning or afternoon session and children benefit from all the same advantages offered to permanently enrolled children.

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