Choosing Child Care


Choosing the right child care can be a difficult decision for families, depending upon your family’s needs and the environment in which you and your child will feel most comfortable.

Child care services also provide an opportunity for your child to develop social, emotional and learning skills.

Considerations include:

•     How many hours of care do I need? The whole day? Just mornings? Just afternoons? Just a few hours a week? Or occasionally?
•     Do I want my child cared for in a home environment or in a centre?
•     What kind of qualifications and experience do staff members have?
•     Does the centre offer a pre-school program?
•     What is the carer-to-child ratio?
•     Can I claim Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate for a certain centre?

Here’s a brief description of the different types of child care.


Long day care is sometimes referred to as centre-based care and is generally provided in a building or part of a building that has been created specifically for use as a child care centre. Centres usually operate between 7:30 am and 6:00 pm and offer professional care for children aged 0-6. Children are usually grouped in rooms according to age and developmental stage. Child care is usually available for all day or part of the day at a centre.


Family day care is where a professional carer looks after your child in the carer’s home. Carers work mainly with children aged 0-6 who are not yet at school, but can also provide care for older school-aged children.

Some carers may offer care overnight or on weekends. Some carers are self-employed but work with a family day care scheme.


In home care is similar to family day care but the professional carer looks after the child in your child’s home. However, it is not widely available and usually only an option where other forms of care are not suitable.

In home care services are for families with children who cannot be cared for by other child care centres.


Outside school hours care centres provide care for primary school aged children, before and after school (7:30am – 9:00am and 3:00pm – 6:00pm), during school holidays and on pupil-free days.

Vacation care is a type of outside school hours care that includes indoor and outdoor activities, and may be provided by the same organisation that runs before and after-school care.

Centres are usually located on primary school sites. Some centres are located in a child care centre, community facility or outside-school hours care centre near the primary school.

Centres may offer a snack as well as the Active After-school Communities exercise program.


Kindergarten programs provide a world of constructed play that early childhood experts agree develops children’s abilities and helps prepare them for school. By participating in play, art, music and movement and interacting with others, children develop their social and language skills as well as their physical abilities. Kindergarten services typically operate during school terms, with varying opening hours.


There may be times when there are no vacancies at a child care centre, and waiting lists help determine the next placement.

The Australian Government has Priority of Access Guidelines to ensure there is a fair child care system. The system ensures that, where there are vacancies or a waiting list for child care centres, places are allocated to families with the greatest need for child care. These guidelines apply to approved, long day care, family day care, in home care and outside school hours care centres.


The majority of child care centres are approved child care services. This means that families using the service may be eligible for Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate. Approved services must also show that they are meeting certain quality standards.

The Child Care Rebate is not means tested but to get it you must first claim for Child Care Benefit. The rebate is paid to you automatically if you are eligible for Child Care Benefit for approved child care.


Family Day Care Employment Opportunities for Spouses

A range of initiatives are available through either the Defence Child Care Program (DCCP) or the Department of Employment Education and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to assist with the initial set-up costs involved in establishing a Family Day Care business.

Approved initial set-up costs include obtaining a First Aid certificate, public liability insurance, police checks, car safety certificate and registration fees.

For further information or to apply for reimbursement of initial set-up costs, complete the application at


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