types of child care

children playing

Most parents need to use child care at some time. Finding the type of child care which best suits your child and your family’s needs is an important factor in the successful placement of your child in a children’s service.

The type of service you are looking for will depend on many factors. These could include:

  • the age and interests of your child
  • the hours of care you require
  • whether you work full-time or part-time
  • whether you need regular or occasional care
  • the geographic location of the service
  • whether you have a car or need to rely on public transport.

Having an understanding of the difference in service types may help you in your decision making.

types of children’s services

Long day care

Long day care is usually open for 10 or more hours per day, five days per week. Usually takes children from 6 weeks to under 6 years.

regulatory requirements

licensed by Community Services under the Children’s Services Regulation 2004 as a centre-based children's service

age

usually from 0 to 6 years

hours & days

generally open 8 to 12 hours per day, five days per week. Some may open on weekends or operate 24 hours a day, 7 days per week

enrolment patterns

some services enrol children for 2, 3 or 5 fixed days; others will enrol according to vacancies or the parents' requirements

holiday periods

some services remain open 52 weeks per year; others may close for between 1 to 4 weeks over the Christmas period.

minimum staffing levels

1 staff member for every 4 children from birth to 2 years
1 staff member for every 8 children from 2 to 3 years
1 staff member for every 10 children from 3 to 6 years

staff training

  • must have at least one staff member qualified in early childhood education
  • if children under 2 years are cared for, must have at least one staff member with appropriate training for under 2s
  • must have at least one staff member with a current, approved first aid qualification on the premises at all times children are present
  • numbers of qualified and trained staff vary depending on the size of the service

Child Care Benefit

yes, benefit eligibility varies depending on family's income level

NCAC accreditation

yes

management

can be privately operated, sponsored by a community organisation, church or local government, managed by a parent committee or work-based for employees. Some are attached to other government bodies such as hospitals and educational institutions.

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preschool

Preschools generally take children aged 3 to under 6 years, although some may be licensed to take children from 2 years of age.

regulatory requirements

licensed by Community Services under the Children’s Services Regulation 2004 as a centre-based children's service.

age

generally from 3 to under 6 years - some will take children from 2 years

hours & days

mostly 9am to 3pm, some offer 8am to 4pm, or morning and/or afternoon sessions, from Monday to Friday

enrolment patterns

some services enrol children for 2, 3 or 5 fixed days, others will enrol according to vacancies or the parents' requirements

holiday periods

most services operate in line with public school terms, which means services may be closed during school holidays

minimum staffing levels

  • 1 staff member for every 8 children from 2 to 3 years
  • 1 staff member for every 10 children from 3 to 6 years

staff training

  • must have at least one staff member trained in early childhood
  • numbers of trained staff vary depending on the size of the service
  • must have at least one staff member with a current, approved first aid qualification on the premises at all times when children are present

Child Care Benefit

not usually, check with the service as eligibility varies

NCAC accreditation

no

management

can be operated by individual, community organisation, church or local government or managed by a parent committee. Some are attached to other government bodies such as schools, hospitals and educational institutions.

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occasional care

Occasional care offers an opportunity for parents to leave their child for short periods of time, either on a casual basis or as a temporary booking. Care may be for short periods of time, depending on the service.

regulatory requirements

licensed by Community Services under the Children’s Services Regulation 2004 as a centre-based children's service

age

may vary from service to service, but generally age group is 0 to 6 years

hours & days

variable hours up to five days per week.

enrolment patterns

some services enrol children for one hour onwards, others will enrol for half or full days only. Most services have booking systems.

holiday periods

may vary from service to service. Some may operate up to 50 weeks per year, others may be closed during school holidays

minimum staffing levels

  • 1 staff member for every 4 children from birth to 2 years
  • 1 staff member for every 8 children from 2 to 3 years
  • 1 staff member for every 10 children from 3 to 6 years

staff training

  • must have at least one staff member trained either in early childhood or with appropriate training for under 2s
  • numbers of trained staff vary depending on the size of the service
  • must have at least one staff member with a current, approved first aid qualification on the premises at all times that children are present
  • sometimes assisted by volunteers under the supervision of staff

Child Care Benefit

no

NCAC accreditation

no

management

can be privately operated, sponsored by a community organisation, church or local government or managed by a parent committee

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family day care

Family day care schemes coordinate care provided by family day carers in their own homes. Family day care carers operate alone with the support of the scheme.

Hours of care vary and are negotiated with the scheme’s coordinator, or between the carer and the parent. Carers can take up to 5 children from babies up to under 6 years of age and 2 school aged children who need before and after school or vacation care.

regulatory requirements

the scheme is licensed by Community Services under the Children’s Services Regulation 2004. Family Day carers register with the licensed scheme.

age

0 to 12 years

hours & days

  • flexible, depending on parents' needs and carer availability
  • may include weekend or evening care

enrolment patterns

enrolment in the scheme is through the FDC scheme coordinator who then facilitates a placement with a carer in your area.

holiday periods

parents negotiate holiday times with either the Family Day Care Scheme or the individual carer.

minimum staffing levels

the family day carer is the sole provider of the service, which is provided at their home

staff training

  • the carer is not required to have formal child care training, but must demonstrate adequate knowledge and understanding of children and families so as to be capable of meeting their needs
  • the carer must have a first aid certificate
  • the coordinator of the scheme must have early childhood qualifications

Child Care Benefit

yes, benefit eligibility varies depending on family income levels

NCAC accreditation

yes

management

  • sponsored by local government, a church or community group or a private enterprise.
  • carers are supported by the Family Day Care Scheme staff.
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home-based care

This is a service where care is provided at the home of the carer. In home-based care the carer operates independently. Hours of care vary and may be able to be negotiated between the carer and the parent.

Carers can nominate the ages of children they care for, but may take children and babies up to 12 years of age who need before and after school or vacation care.

regulatory requirements

licensed by Community Services under the Children’s Services Regulation 2004

age

0 to 12 years - limited to no more than fivechildren 0 to under 6

hours & days

  • flexible, depending on parents' needs and carer availability
  • may include weekend or evening care

enrolment patterns

enrolment is directly with the carer

holiday periods

parents negotiate holiday times with the carer

minimum staffing levels

the home-based carer is the sole provider of the service, which is provided at their home

staff training

  • the carer is not required to have formal child care training although must demonstrate adequate knowledge and understanding of children and families so as to be capable of meeting their needs
  • the carer must have a first aid certificate

Child Care Benefit

yes, benefit eligibility varies - check with the service to see if they are eligible.

accreditation through NCAC

no

management

carer operates independently

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mobile children’s service

A mobile service generally operates from a van or other vehicle which travels through a particular geographic area and sets up a child care service in a local hall or other premises.

These services may offer occasional care, preschool care or long day care. Service is offered once a week, or more often, depending on regional needs. Hours of care also vary according.

regulatory requirements

licensed by Community Services under the Children’s Services Regulation 2004

age

may vary from service to service but generally age group is 0 to under 6 years

hours & days

  • variable according to regional need
  • some visit an area weekly for one or more days

enrolment patterns

vary from service to service

holiday periods

may vary from service to service, some may close during school holidays

minimum staffing levels

  • 1 staff member for every 4 children from birth to 2 years
  • 1 staff member for every 8 children from 2 to 3 years
  • 1 staff member for every 10 children from 3 to 6 years

staff training

  • must have at least one staff member trained in early childhood
  • must have at least one staff member with appropriate training for under 2s
  • numbers of trained staff vary depending on the size of the service
  • must have at least one staff member with acurrent, approved first aid qualification
  • sometimes assisted by volunteers under the supervision of staff members

Child Care Benefit

no

NCAC accreditation

no

management

sponsored by local government or a church or community group

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out of school hours care

Services are usually provided before and after school hours and during school holidays for children who attend school. Hours of care vary from service to service.

regulatory requirements

registered with Community Services under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Amendment (Out of School Hours Care Services) Regulation 2007

age

children who are attending school

hours & days

before and after school and during school vacations. Actual hours may vary from service to service according to community need

enrolment patterns

usually try to meet parents’ need for care

holiday periods

  • will vary from service to service.
  • may be closed for 1 or 2 weeks over the Christmas period.

minimum staffing levels

staff to child ratios not regulated by Community Services

The National Standards for Outside School Hours Care recommend one staff member to 15 children.

staff training

  • no formal qualifications required, but recommended
  • focus on recreational activities, not educational

Child Care Benefit

yes, benefit eligibility varies - check with the service to see if they are eligible

NCAC accreditation

yes

management

can be privately run, sponsored by a community organisation, church or local government or managed by a parent committee. Some are attached to other government bodies such as schools, hospitals and educational institutions.

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child-minding in retail shopping centre

This is a child-minding service provided at premises which form a part of a retail shopping centre. Parents can place their child for short period of time while they are shopping in the centre. Parents/guardian is required to be available on call.

regulatory requirements

services need approval of Community Services for operating the services as per the Children’s Services Regulation 2004 (Part 8A Approved child-minding in retail shopping centre )

age

2 to under 6 years

hours & days

service must operate within the hours of the retail shopping centre

enrolment patterns

children are enrolled at each attendance.

holiday periods

not applicable

minimum staffing levels

  • at least two staff member should be present when children are provided care
  • sufficient number of adults should be available to assist in the effective evacuation of children.

staff training

when children are present there must be at least one staff member who has:

  • a child care certificate, a certificate of child care studies, or an associate Diploma of social science(child studies) froorm TAFE, or a Diploma of community services, (children’s services) from a registered training organization or some other approved qualification

  • the remaining staff should have had training or work experience in providing children's services
  • all staff working with children should hold a current first aid qualification

child care benefit

no

NCAC accreditation

no

management

can be a person or organisation who is a holder of an approval

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related links:

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)