Finding centre-based child care and family day care services

If you’ve decided on family day care or centre-based child care like long day care, the next step is to find available services.

To find available child care places in your area:

You could also look into services that are near your workplace.

To find out what the available child care services are like, you could:

If you’re interested in having your child cared for in your own home, you might want to look into nannies and babysitters.

Comparing centre-based and family day care services: checklist

When you’re looking at centre-based and family day care services, the checklist below can help you compare how different services will educate and care for your child. This will give you a good basis for deciding on the right service for your family.

Fees and payment requirements

  • What are the service fees?
  • Do you have to pay for days you don’t attend? For example, do you still pay when you go on holidays or on public holidays?
  • Can you get government assistance for child care? If you can, you’ll pay less than the quoted price.

Play and learning

  • What does the service do to help your child learn and develop? Is there a plan on display that explains the service’s learning and development program?
  • Will staff report back on your child’s day?
  • Is there easy-to-access information about the service’s policies, level of staff training, hygiene and discipline procedures?

Facilities and setting

  • Is the environment stimulating and safe?
  • Does the centre or home have a relaxed and happy atmosphere?
  • Does the centre or home seem interesting, with plenty of light and lots of toys and activities?
  • Is there plenty of room and outdoor equipment for your child to enjoy?

Daily routines

  • Is there a chance for quiet time or rest during the day?
  • Are there plenty of opportunities for your child to engage with nature?
  • Will your child have the chance to explore and create?
  • Do toileting, nappy changing and rest times meet individual needs?

Carers and their relationships with children

  • How many carers are there? Is there at least one carer for every four babies?
  • How often do you see staff engaging with children?
  • Do staff encourage, respect and care for children?
  • How do staff guide children’s behaviour?
  • Is every child treated like an individual?

Relationships with parents

  • Do you feel welcome to discuss issues with staff?
  • Can you and your child do an orientation program?
  • Can you drop in at any time to visit and observe your child in the environment?
  • Are family members encouraged to get involved in activities?

Meals and snacks

  • Does the service supply meals and snacks, or do you need to send food with your child?

If the service provides meals and snacks:

  • Does the service offer a healthy selection of snacks and drinks?
  • Do snacks and meal arrangements meet children’s individual needs?
  • Does the service follow Australian dietary guidelines for children? Can the service show you its menu and nutrition policy?

General information

  • What is the service’s policy on enrolling children who aren’t up to date with immunisations?
  • What happens if your child is sick?
  • What happens if you’re late for a pick-up?
  • Who else can pick up your child?
  • What should you pack for your child?
  • How can you help your child adjust to child care?

Many child care services have waiting lists, particularly for babies and toddlers. So even if you’re only thinking about a return to work or other change, it’s a good idea to register for child care or put your child on a waiting list as soon as you can. It’s OK to put your child on more than one waiting list.