By Raising Children Network
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Mum, dad and daughter sitting

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There’s a lot of debate about whether child care is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for children. But researchers say that the issue isn’t whether a child is in care – it’s more about quality, and whether the type of care suits your family.
 

Most families need to use child care at some stage in their children’s lives. You might need just one hour a day, one or more days a week, all-day care for up to five days a week, or even overnight care.

Types of child care in Australia

There are four options for child care in Australia:

  • home-based care, which is having your child cared for by a friend, relative or nanny in your home
  • family day care with a small group of children in an approved carer’s home
  • centre-based care, like long day care, preschools or kindergartens, with trained staff and a structured program
  • occasional care, which is short-term, service-based care.

Most Australian families use more informal care – for example, help from friends, relatives or nannies – than other types of child care.

Child care, also known as early childhood education and care, is mainly designed for children aged up to five years, but can also include before-school, after-school and holiday care for primary school-age children. This is often called outside school hours care.

From the age of three years, children can attend preschool programs in some centres while they’re at child care. Preschool sessions are usually about one hour at three years and up to four hours for four-year-olds.

Care, learning and education are a vital part of all child care settings. Programs focus on play-based learning, communication, language (including literacy and numeracy), social skills and emotional development.

Deciding on types of child care

When you’re trying to decide what type of child care is right for your family, you might want to consider the following questions:

  • How many hours of child care do you need each week?
  • What are the child care options in your area, and how much do they cost?
  • Can you reduce the amount of child care you need if you or your partner work from home?
  • Do you want your child cared for at your home, at someone else’s home, or at a child care centre?
  • Are you looking for child care that matches your family’s interests or values – for example, food choices, musical interests and so on?
  • Do you want your child to experience different styles of care and mix with children from a wide range of social and family backgrounds?
  • Are you looking for child care that’s similar to your care at home?
  • What are the quality ratings of the options you’re interested in? You can check quality ratings of child care services at Starting Blocks.
Our tips on getting started with child care can help you decide on the right child care option for your family.
 
 
 
  • Last updated or reviewed 25-10-2016