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What to Consider When Choosing a Child Care Facility
High Demand on Childcare
Australia’s child care system is experiencing more demand than ever before. Many families need both parents working to make ends meet and rely on childcare services to take care of their children. Single parents are also often reliant on childcare providers to keep their kids safe and happy while the parent works to support the household. Choosing the right childcare service and the right facility is a very important decision for all parents to make when finding care for their children.
Choosing a Childcare Service
It is important to consider:
- The number of hours needed per day
- Your entitlements to government child care rebates or benefits and daily fees of facilities
- The carer-to-child ratio (New regulations by the National Quality Framework require one early child care professional to every four toddlers)
- Lunch options available at centres
- What educational opportunities will my child have
- What are the qualifications of staff (New NQF regulations require employees to hold a minimum Certificate III in Child Care and at least half of the staff to be holding, or working towards, their Diploma of Children’s Services)
There are various child care options available, including:
- Long Day Care
- Family Day Care
- Occasional Care
- Outside School Hour Care
- In Home Care
Long Day Care
Long care facilities are the most common. Operating from 7:30am – 6:00pm, children are segregated into aged groups and developmental stages. Most centres have a comprehensive education component for children. Reforms to the child care sector by the NQF will see quality standards raised through increased staff qualification requirements and educator-to-child ratios.
Long day care centres are run by local councils, companies, community organisations, individuals and non-profit organisations. Almost all facilities will meet the government child care rebate and benefit criteria.
Family Day Care
Family dare care is where an early childhood professional cares for children within their home. These carers are flexible with hours and are regulated individually according to state and territory laws. Some facilities offer late night and overnight care – ideal for parents who work in ‘on call’ professions.
Occasional care is suited to those in need of casual care. The care is perfect for those who work flexible hours or for short term care to cover an appointment period.
Outside School Hour Care
Outside school hours facilities are generally designed for school aged children who need care between the hours of 7:30am – 9am and 3:00pm – 6:00pm. They also provide care on pupil free days and school holiday periods. Many centres run activities during the vacation period for returning students and are generally located on, or nearby schools.
In Home Care
In home care is professional care in your own home. This option is not widely popular due to lack of availability. Generally, children in rural areas and those with disabilities benefit most from this service.
When All Else Fails… Waiting Lists?
The Australian Government has designed priority access guidelines to ensure families with the highest need for care are allocated accordingly. Almost all child care centres have waiting lists so it is important to plan ahead to ensure your child receives a placement at a facility appropriate for both your needs, and theirs.
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