We’re lucky to have so many childcare choices available to us in Queensland, and they come with a range of benefits for you and your child. Childcare can allow parents to return to work or study or simply to have a little regular “me time”, and children in a childcare environment have the opportunity to hone their social skills, participate in regular learning activities and prepare for school.
Our guide to the different types of childcare available will help you find the right option to suit your needs.
Family Day Care
Family day care is a home-from-home environment, usually for children aged from birth to 12 years old. Carers can look after up to seven children at a time in their home, with a maximum of four being below school age. This figure includes their own children under 13 years of age if no other adult is available to care for them. Each family day care educator will set their own working hours and fee structure and can choose to provide nappies and meals or request that you supply your own.
Family day care can offer the most flexible care options with some educators also offering overnight and weekend care. All family day care providers must comply with set legislative requirements regarding education, first aid and childcare certification, excursion planning, insurance and record keeping.
Family day care considerations
- home-from-home environment
- small groups
- flexible arrangements
- one carer that your child can bond with
- alternative arrangements may be required at short notice if the carer is unavailable
Nannies and Au Pairs
A nanny or au pair will take care of your children in your own home and provide assistance with feeding, bathing and dressing your child, taking your child to school, appointments and activities, and light household chores as required.
There are several agencies in Brisbane who will help you find a nanny or au pair to match your needs, and each agency will have its own standards for vetting and skills-testing the nannies and/or au pairs on their books. It’s important to choose a good agency and ask lots of questions to get the right nanny or au pair for you.
A nanny is an experienced and qualified childcare worker who will work set hours in your home before returning to their own. An au pair is usually an overseas visitor looking for work experience in Australia and may live with you as part of your family whilst looking after your children. A nanny will be paid an hourly rate and an au pair will receive ‘pocket money’ in addition to food, board and other incidentals such as internet access and transport.
Read our article for more information about hiring an au pair: www.familiesmagazine.com.au/au-pair-cost/
Nanny and Au Pair considerations
- ‘at home’ routine is maintained for your child
- a nanny could be part-time or live in; an au pair will usually live with your family
- convenient care to suit your requirements
Long Day Care
Long day care is great if you work a full day and need to factor in commute time too. Most long day care providers operate at least 10 hours per day, Monday to Friday, but may close on public holidays or at other times of the year.
Long day care is usually provided in a centre and structured around age-specific rooms, often with planned educational activities and visiting activity and entertainment providers. There is a minimum educator-to-child ratio that varies according to the age of the children in the group. In Queensland that’s 1:4 for infants under 2 years old, 1:5 for children aged between 24 and 36 months, and 1:11 for pre-schoolers aged 3 years and over.
Each centre may set its own fees based around the facilities and staffing provided. Most long day care centres now offer the option to book a half day or a full day, but you will pay the full amount for the period booked even if you only use a small part of it.
Many long day care providers further ease the burden on time-poor parents by providing nutritious meals and nappies, and most offer an approved Kindergarten program for children turning 4 years old by June 30 of the year – no double drop-offs and pick-ups for pre-school siblings!
Long day care considerations
- open weekdays for early drop-offs and late pick-ups
- nutritious meals and nappies often included
- bigger facilities can mean more scope for activities and entertainment
- a team of staff always available
- bigger ‘classes’ of children to socialise with
All Queensland children turning four by June 30 of the year can take part in a kindergarten program. Low or no cost kindergarten is available to Health Care Card holders and children or parents who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Fees may be payable at some independent kindergarten centres so it’s good to do a little research into what’s available in your local area if cost might be an issue.
Unless part of a long day care centre, most kindergartens operate during school hours and term time only. Kindergartens (also known as pre-prep) may be attached to the primary school your child will attend. This introduces the child to the school environment and its facilities.
Children will spend five hours per day at kindergarten, five days per fortnight – usually three days one week and two days the next. Kindergartens offer an approved educational program to prepare your child for Prep, focussing on skills required, learning, and stimulating experiences.
- approved educational program
- can help your child prepare for school
- limited operating hours unless part of a long day care centre
- available in many primary schools and independent centres
- you may have to provide your child’s meals
Outside School Hours Care
Outside school hours care (OSHC) provides care before and after school – and sometimes through school holidays – for school-aged children. It’s convenient for parents and care-givers who work or study and can’t be available at usual drop-off and pick-up times.
Most primary and some secondary schools offer outside school hours care, but it’s not always, provided on the premises of the school your child attends. Your school might use an outside service such as PCYC or long day care provider who will do the school runs for you and look after your child at their centre. Ask your school for details about their OSHC service and fees.
At OSHC your child may be given breakfast and/or afternoon tea and provided with a place to do homework, participate in activities and play games.
- they do the school run for you
- snacks and light meals may be provided
- some provide school holiday care too
Special Needs Childcare
All children in Australia are entitled to have access to childcare. For children with additional needs that can make the search for the right provider a little more challenging.
It’s worth considering what you hope to achieve from the service and expected outcomes before embarking on the search. A specialist family day care or nanny could be perfect if routine and familiar surroundings are important. If your child will be attending a mainstream school, a long day care centre may be able to offer tailored care with specially trained staff.
Not all childcare providers have the facilities to offer specialist care, but there are family day care providers, nanny agencies, and long day care centres in Brisbane that do.
Depending on your child’s needs, it’s important to have clear conversations with the childcare provider to make sure they are fully across any special dietary needs, medication, therapy, specialist first-aid and education programs to provide the best care for your child.
Childcare in Queensland
All childcare workers in Queensland, whether au pairs visiting from overseas or permanent residents of Australia, must have a paid Blue Card (police check) to work with children.
If eligible, you may be able to claim government rebates and financial assistance when using the services of a registered childcare provider, including employing a nanny or au pair from an agency.
You can find out more about the different childcare options in Queensland here: www.childcarefinder.gov.au/
This article featured in Issue 36 of our printed magazine, published October 2019.