From daycare, family daycare, au pair services and playschool to occasional care and pre-school, the Australian child care market is as bountiful in choices as it is confusing. For migrants with kids, understanding the meaning of the several options and choosing the right one for their child can be a daunting task. This post is aimed at providing a brief introduction to the topic and some relevant links for further research.

What is Child Care?

Child care is a general term that covers all early childhood education and care services for children aged 0 – 5 years before the onset of formal. It provides parents to continue working whilst providing children with early exposure to educational and social skills in preparation for school. This is an opportunity to provide children with the necessary foundation blocks to develop their educational and social skills in a safe environment, while also supporting parents to continue working.

Throughout Australia, there has been a steady improvement in the language and cognitive skills of children starting school. By continuing to focus on preschool attendance, studies have revealed that children will feel better prepared for school.

Whether you need care for a few hours a day, a few days a week, or even holiday care — there’s a child care program to suit every family in Australia…for a cost of course.

Some of the options are long daycare, family daycare, preschool, kindergarten, early learning, playschool, private child care, home daycare, occasional care, and disability child care. Add to these – babysitters, au pairs and nannies, options that offer more flexibility but are far less regulated by the National Framework.

Monday – Friday. Due to the flexibility of this arrangement, parents can drop their children off at the centre before they go to work and pick them up afterwards so that their working day is not affected.

What are my options?

There are many education and care options available to suit the needs of your child and your family:

Long Day Care

Long day care — sometimes referred to as centre-based care — is especially useful for parents who work full-time jobs as this professional service can look after children for long hours,

Family Day Care

Family daycare is another option for parents who prefer to have their children learn and play in small groups, in a homelike environment. It typically caters for children from birth to 12 years and is held in the home of a registered educator. This may or may not be available in all towns, especially in remote regions.

Preschool Services

Whilst not specifically a child care facility, preschool – also known as kindergarten – is more of an educational set up and usually caters for children aged three to five years. It’s perfect for parents with children who are almost ready for primary school.

Outside (or After) School Hours Care

Outside school hours care operates before and after school and/or during school holidays. This service works well for parents with school-age children, who need care outside of school hours.

What is Playschool?

Playschool (or playgroup) gives parents and carers the opportunity to get together with their young children (usually babies, toddlers and preschool-aged children) for a couple of hours each week. Here they connect, learn through play and are exposed to social environments through a medium of fun activities.

What is a Nanny?

A nanny is a professional carer who often has formal training in working with children. The option to employ a nanny is a more flexible arrangement than formal child care, with the added advantage that the child is being cared for at home. This option works out cheaper if you have two or more kids as the costs become comparable to sending two kids to daycare.

Something to also consider is that people who use nannies are not currently automatically eligible to receive Child Care Benefit (CCB). However, there are several larger nanny agencies that are registered as approved child care providers and the CCB and rebate may be granted if using these approved services.

What is an Au Pair?

An au pair is usually in the 18-30 age range, usually from overseas. Their job is to help with child care and family tasks, and most foreigners take this opportunity to explore Australia and learn while learning the language as well. You have to consider the fact that you will lose your personal space and often have to provide for a free stay, food, internet etc.

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