There’s no best time to start – it all depends on what suits your family and child.
Research tells us that the quality of a child’s early education and care is more important than the age they start or the amount of time they spend there.
Most services have waiting lists so it may be best to put your child’s name on more than one list. This may better your chances of finding a service you’re happy with. However, there may be a non-refundable administration cost to do so.
Once you’ve been offered a place, remember to take your name off the other lists so they can be kept up to date for other families.
There are many different service types available.
Other options include occasional care services, or care provided by family or friends, babysitters and nannies. However, these options are not regulated under the National Quality Framework.
To find quality approved education and care services in Australia visit - www.startingblocks.gov.au/findchildcare
Friends and family members can also be a good source of information – what do they think about the service they use?
It’s important to visit the service to meet the educators and see the facilities. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
A quality service is one that:
All approved services are being assessed and rated against a National Quality Standard (NQS). Services are given a rating for each area of the NQS and an overall rating based on these results.
These ratings are one way of helping families choose the best service for their child.
The services will receive one of the following ratings:
Services rated Exceeding in all 7 quality areas may apply to be rated Excellent.If a service is assessed and there are serious compliance issues, it is rated Significant Improvement Required. In this situation, the regulator uses penalties to make sure the service improves, or otherwise will stop the service from operating.
You can discuss the ratings with the service provider to learn how they are working to meet the National Quality Standard, even if your service has not yet been rated.
Find your nearest quality rated service at: www.startingblocks.gov.au/findchildcare
Once the service offers your child a place, they will guide you through the enrolment process.
You may be asked to provide the following:
Orientation usually takes place before your child starts.
It provides time for you, your child and the educator to get to know each other - what are your child's needs, interests, culture and routines.
It gives your child a chance to explore their new environment. They can begin to develop a relationship with staff, and meet other children at the service with the security of having you close by.
Services often provide a handbook to families at orientation time. The handbook may include information about the service, the educators, opening hours, and policies on issues such as holidays, health and safety, managing illness and fees.
The orientation visit is a good opportunity to ask questions and build a relationship with the educators and staff at the service.
Starting early childhood education and care can be an emotional experience for both you and your child.
Children can often experience some difficulty settling into a new environment, particularly if they find it hard to separate from family or familiar caregivers.
Here are some suggestions to help support your child: