Choosing and getting ready for an early childhood education and care service can be an exciting and overwhelming time for you and your child, considering there are so many options out there. So, the earlier you start preparing, the better.
Start with thinking about your child care options before you need it, including the days and hours you might need it for.
There are various types of early childhood education and care services and you can choose the one that suits your lifestyle best. Most are regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF) including:
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.
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.
All the regulated services across Australia 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.
These ratings are for the services that are regulated under the NQF.
There are seven quality areas which services are rated against under the National Quality Standard:
For each of the seven areas, most of the services will be rated either:
Services can also be given an overall “Excellent” rating when they exceed in all seven quality areas.
Research shows quality early education and care leads to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life. So, it’s really important for you to know if the child care service your child will be attending provides quality experiences that will cater for your child’s overall growth and development.
You can find your nearest regulated services and their quality ratings using our Find Child Care search.
You can also refer to Starting Blocks' resource on what to see and ask for at your service.