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Your first step into early childhood education & care
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Choosing a service

Getting ready for child care, preschool or kindergarten can be an exciting and overwhelming time for you and your child, but the earlier you start preparing, the better.

  • Start thinking about your options before you need it, including the days and hours you might need it for.
  • Research which types of child care suit your lifestyle best e.g. family day care, long day care centres, preschools, outside school hours care, etc.
  • Most services have a waiting list so it’s a good idea to put down your child’s name for more than one place to better your chances of finding a service you are happy with.
  • Visit the service. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as a service that is right for others may not be the best fit for your family. 

Types of education and care

There are many different types of early education and care services.

Most are regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF) including:

  • Family day care
  • Long day care
  • Kindergarten / preschool
  • Outside school hours care.

Regulated services are required to meet high national standards to ensure your child is safe and is given opportunities for learning and development on a regular basis.  These services are given quality ratings to help families choose the best service for their child and family.

Find your nearest regulated service and their quality ratings.

Watch our video or download our fact sheet on the different types of services. 

Other services like occasional care, crèches, mobile services and some school holiday care programs are not regulated under the NQF, but may be regulated under other state legislation.

If you’re not sure if a service is regulated or not, it’s best to ask the service.

Key questions to ask when choosing a service:

  • What hours do you operate?
  • What times can I drop off and pick up my child?
  • Do you close throughout the year and how long for e.g. Christmas or Easter time
  • Will I be able to visit my child or call them at any time?
  • Will I be charged fees for public holidays or when my child is not there?
  • Do you provide things like nappies and meals, or do I need to bring them from home?
  • What is the ratio of staff to children?
  • What skills, qualifications and experience do the staff have?  
  • Has your service been quality rated and what was the rating?
  • What ages do you care for? This is important because you might need to think about future child care options if they only provide care for children aged from birth to five.
  • How will I know that my child’s learning and development will be encouraged?
  • What are your internal policies and procedures?
  • Will I be eligible for any subsidies or other financial assistance? 

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