With over 1.3 million children across more than 900,000 families using early learning services in Australia, the childcare industry in the country is expected to grow considerably.
In July 2018, the Australian Government initiated the biggest change to the childcare system in 40 years. The COAG reforms for early childhood pledged substantial financial commitment as well as legislative initiatives to enhance early childhood learning outcomes in Australia. This reform has also given parents more alternatives and more affordable options.
Since the Child Care Subsidy program was implemented, the overall affordability of childcare in the country improved by 10%. Aside from affordability, high-quality early education is also better advocated. The NQS or National Quality Standard sets the bar for early childhood education as well as outside school hours care services in the country.
Parents heavily rely on childcare services for them to work, advance their careers, and contribute to the local and national economy as a whole. And although childcare services do bring convenience, Australian parents would still want to have peace of mind, knowing that their children are in good hands.
How to Choose the Right Child Care Services in Australia
Childcare is meant for children up to five years old though some centers also cater to school-age children. All kids in the country have the right to enjoy childcare services, and no one should be excluded based on citizenship, ethnicity, ability, or family circumstances.
There are five main options for early education in Australia:
- Business-related creches
- Family day
- Outside school hours
Let’s go through each one by one.
It’s operated out of a private home. It’s when your relative, friend, nanny, or babysitter cares for your child in your own home. Some childcare services also offer home-based care. Some parents choose home-based to really give their children the comfort they need in a home setting. The child is also given more exclusive attention, and parents don’t have to think about pick-ups and drop-offs.
You can make the most of the Australian Government In-Home Care program to aid in your family’s home-based child care costs and summon the help of an early childhood educator that meets the minimum requirements. However, only those who are geographically isolated, work in variable or non-standard hours, or experience family challenges are qualified.
Center-based daycare operates from stand-alone centers and provides child care in group settings. Center-based covers child-long day care, occasional care, kindergarten, and preschool.
Long daycare is particularly helpful for families who have regular working days.
Occasional care is the option for those who just need someone to look after their child from time to time. Parents who have unpredictable or irregular working hours usually choose occasional care, or you can also opt for this when attending appointments or catching up on some household tasks.
Kindergarten and preschool have educational programs for kids aged 3 to 5 years old.
Many parents choose center-based because they’re reliable, employ certified early childhood educators, follow learning programs, structures, and routines, and offer children lots of opportunities to socialize, play, and learn.
3. Family day care
This is when children are looked after by a qualified educator in the teacher’s own home, and it would be arranged in a small group setting.
This type does have some advantages:
- It’s a home-based setting.
- It offers an approved learning program for children and the chance for your child to socialize and play with other kids.
- Since it’s for a smaller group, it could be a more intimate, quieter environment, which some kids or parents prefer.
- It offers flexibility like if you need childcare for just a few hours on a given day.
Family daycare is also a good option though it’s not as reliable as center-based child care. For instance, you may have to look for backup when the family daycare provider is sick.
But if you do choose family daycare, it’s best to visit the family daycare home, so you and your child can get a feel of the place and can better decide if it’s the right fit for you.
4. Business-related creches
There are some business establishments like shopping centers and even gyms that offer informal childcare in creches so that parents can use their services. They either charge a fee or factor the fee in when pricing their services or products. This works if you just need childcare support for a short period of time. It’s also a great place for kids to play and interact with other kids.
Business-related creches are not as regulated as center-based care, so they don’t follow the standard requirements in terms of educator-child ratio and education quality. If you want your child to learn, develop, and be nurtured, it’s better to choose a high-quality childcare center that has a solid curriculum.
5. Outside school hours
This type of care is still center-based, but the child care services are offered before or after school hours and even during school holidays. It’s usually only for school-age children, though. Outside school hours care is still run by qualified early education teachers.
Registering for child care
Once you have decided on the type of child care that works for your family, it’s best to register your child early as the waiting list for some providers could be long.
The good thing is there are now super easy ways to find the best daycare services for your child. There are sites like Space that serve as an extensive directory of thousands of qualified childcare services near you.
Just input which suburb you’re from in Australia, and it will automatically show a list of all nearby centers you can explore. You can view the gallery to check the pictures, read the full details as to the center’s curriculum and inclusions, send inquiries, and even book a tour and enroll.
You can even make your decision-making process easier by clicking the ‘Shortlist’ button, so you can smoothly sort your options and take your pick. It’s a one-stop destination for parents looking for the best child care services in Australia.
When it comes to your child’s early learning, choose carefully. Use the resources available, study the shortlisted child care services, and choose only the best for your precious one.