Finding affordable and quality childcare that works for the whole family is a concern for many parents - here some of the options available in Australia are explained.
If you’re shopping around, here is a childcare option guide to get you started.
Long day care
This is the most common choice for parents with preschool age children, because they offer care in a group setting from 7am to 6pm. You have the option to enrol your child either full-time or part-time. Long day care usually charges per day.
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, about 45 per cent of children between aged 2-3 years attended long day care in 2011.
Family day care
Family day care is an approved service provided at the educators’ own home. It’s a more home-like environment compared to long day care centres, with shorter hours in a small group. Family day care may bill per hour or part of an hour.
An ABS study on Childhood Education and Care finds 2.5 per cent of Australian children attended family day care in 2014.
Preschool or kindergarten care
Preschools (also known as kindergartens) provide an educational program in a dedicated preschool setting catering for children aged between three and five years of age.
Preschools NSW recommend this service for children in the two years before they commence full-time schooling. Children generally may attend a number of days per week. Most services operate between 9am–3pm during school terms only.
Outside school hour care
These programs are usually linked to the school and are available for older children who are at school but they need care before or after school or in the school holidays.
You might find this type of service in neighbourhood or community centres, sometimes organised by parent co-operatives. The number of hours occasional care can be used by any child each week can be restricted.
Contact your local council to find out more.
This service is government-funded for families who meet certain criteria, for example caring for a child with disability or living in remote areas or raising three or more children under school age.
This type of care is usually provided by grandparents, relatives, friends, neighbours or nannies.
For example if you're a grandparent receiving a pension and you have primary care of your grandchildren you may be eligible Grandparent Child Care Benefit. www.humanservices.gov.au
What about the childcare costs?
The Australian government provides child care support for eligible families. You’ll need to register with Centrelink and use approved or registered child care service.
The Child Care Benefit pays a proportion of the fee and it is means tested so it depends on your household income as to how much Child Care Benefit you’re eligible.
The Child Care Rebate reimburses you effectively 50 per cent of your out-of-pocket expenses. For example, you’re using a long day care service that charges $100 a day; you might be eligible for up to $40 or $46 of that covered by Child Care Benefit.
Child Care Benefit (CCB) – your income level and care type determines how much you can receive.
Child Care Rebate (CCR) – if you're using approved childcare for work, training or study-related reasons, you can receive up to 50 per cent of your out-of-pocket childcare costs, up to $7500 (indexed) for each child each year. Not means-tested.
You can also check the quality ratings of a service provider by visiting the Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)