Childcare and Pre-school Education

<em>Find out about the choices you have for childcare in Australia...</em>

Childcare Options

There are a number of options for full-time and part-time child care services, available for toddlers under pre-school age and for outside of school hours. These include:

Child Care Centres: These can be full or part-time day care. Most centres are private, although some public centres are available. Listings of child care centres should be available from local councils. All child care centres should be registered with the council. In most cases, families using these centres are eligible for Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate. These generally operate between 07:30 and 18:00, with many centres providing meals. If meals are not provided, parents will have to provide a packed lunch.

Family day care: Child care is provided in a home with a registered carer and is available for children aged zero to six. Hours tend to be more flexible than in more formal structures and may include nights or weekends. The majority of carers provide Approved Child care, which means that parents may be able to benefit from Child Care Benefit and Rebate.

  • For further information on Approved Child Care: Click here

In home care: This is similar to family day care, with the carer taking care of the child in their own home. However, this sort of care is less readily available and may only be appropriate in certain circumstances, for example if the child has a disability and other options cannot meet the needs of the child.

Occasional care: These are centres that provide drop-in child care services as opposed to a regular arrangement. They are usually government funded and local councils can provide names and addresses of these centres.

  • For information and to find local child care in Australia: Click here

Informal Childcare

There are usually professional babysitting services available in larger urban areas but these can be expensive. Some parents set up their own babysitting rotas as this can reduce costs and is a trustworthy source. The best way of finding a babysitter is through friends and word of mouth. A useful resource for finding babysitters is the parenting website, The Bub Hub.

Pre-school

Pre-schools are often run by local councils or private organisations and are available for children aged three to five. In many areas pre-schools are situated on the same grounds as primary schools. Schooling at this age is optional, but it is recommended so that children learn through play and acquire social interaction skills.

In some areas there may be waiting lists to enrol in a pre-school, both public and private.

Compulsory education in Australia starts at primary school, usually when children are aged five.