There are many education and care options available to suit the needs of your child and your family:
Long day care is perfect for those who work long days and need care for their children during business hours. It operates for at least 8 hours a day, typically Monday to Friday in a child care centre and caters for children, from birth to school age.
Family day care is great for parents who want their children to learn and play in small groups, in a homelike environment. It caters for children, birth to 12 years and is held in the home of a registered educator.
Preschool usually caters for children aged three to five years and is perfect for parents with children who are almost ready for primary school. Sometimes known as kindergarten, it can be a standalone service or part of another education and care service or school.
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.
These services are not regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF):
Occasional child care works on a casual basis for short periods of time. It caters for children, birth to school age and suits those who would like or need a temporary service.
The In Home Care (IHC) program provides access to Government subsidised early childhood education and care in the family home. The program supports families who are unable to access other mainstream child care options such as those who work non-standard hours, are geographically isolated or have families with challenging and complex needs.
Mobile services travel through communities to offer occasional, preschool or long day care services in rural, urban and remote areas. It generally caters for children up to six years old, and is great for parents who live too far away from an early education and care service.
There is a wide range of other informal care options available, including family, friends, babysitters and nannies. These types of services are flexible and rely heavily on the family’s needs. They are generally run in a home and operating times may vary.
|Type||Ages||Hours of operation||Where||NQF Regulated?||Description and key benefits|
|Long Day Care (LDC)||Birth to school age||Usually 8-10 hours p/day||Centre-based environment||Yes||Educators providing education and care to children in a centre-based environment offering extended hours. Provides preparation for school through a play-based learning curriculum. May suit parents working full time.|
|Family Day Care (FDC)||Birth to 12||Varies||Educator's home||Yes||Educators providing education and care in their homes to small groups of children. May also offer OSHC.|
|Preschool (ACT, SA, NSW, NT) Kindergarten (QLD, TAS, VIC, WA)||Usually 3 to 5||Varies||Centre-based environment (standalone or part of a school)||Yes||State-funded service that usually offers shorter hours or sessional education and care during school terms. Provides preparation for school through a play-based learning curriculum. It can be a standalone service or part of another education and care service or school.|
|Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) or Out-of-School Hours (OOSH)||School age||Before/after school; holidays||Often in or near a primary school||Yes||Education and care for school age children before/after school. May also provide education and care during holidays and pupil-free days. Play-based curriculum with a focus on fun and leisure. Will suit working parents.|
|Occasional Care||Birth to school age||Varies||Varies||No||Casual early childhood education and care for short periods of time. Suitable for parents with short-term or last-minute needs.|
|Mobile services||Usually birth to 6||Varies||Usually local community centres/libraries etc||Some have adopted the NQF||Mobile services most commonly travel through rural and remote areas to offer education and care to families who live too far away from permanent service.|
|In Home Care||Up to 12 years||Varies||Home environment||No||Qualified early childhood educators provide high quality early learning and care in the home environment through a play-based learning curriculum. Suits families who work non-standard hours, are geographically isolated or have children with complex needs.|
|Informal care||Varies||Varies||Home environment||No||Care options can include nannies, babysitters, family and friends. Provided on a needs basis. May be more accessible or cost effective for some families.|