Types of child care

You have options when planning and choosing child care. It's common to combine two or more types of child care and include a kindergarten program as part of your child’s weekly routine.

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Who runs child care

Child care centres are set up by different kinds of organisations. They could be:

  • a committee of volunteer parents
  • workplaces or universities
  • community organisations or local councils
  • private businesses.

You can also find gyms or aquatic centres, community facilities and some retailers which offer care while parents are using their facilities.

Types

There are different types of child care for different situations:

  • Long day care (often called Early Learning Centres) is available for children whose families are working or studying, or just need some regular time off.
  • Occasional care helps parents with less formal needs, like needing two hours for an appointment or to rest.
  • Family day care is based in a carer’s home with a very small number of other children.
  • In-home care is when the carer cares for your child in your own home. This is usually called a nanny or au pair.

Some centres offer both long day care and occasional care, but not all do.

Long day care

Primarily aimed at 0-6 year olds, long day care is usually based in a centre and the education and care programs are created around the developmental needs, interests and experience of each child. Because long day care centres typically operate for at least eight hours a day on normal working days for a minimum of 48 weeks per year, children get to know their educators and form an attachment to familiar people, spaces, sounds and smells, as well as developing friendships with other children.

Long day care services may also offer kindergarten programs.

All long day care services are rated under the National Quality Framework, which reviews the quality of most types of early childhood services. The mychild.gov.au and startingblocks.gov.au websites help you find out the quality ratings of providers.

Occasional care

Occasional care is a similar environment to long day care – safe, friendly and staffed with qualified educators – except the centre is set up for much shorter sessions, and is likely to have less formal booking processes.

Occasional care is designed to allow parents to get some rest or exercise, or attend an appointment or job interview. Some centres are set up for occasional care only and do not have a meal service or space for naps as their sessions might typically run for one or two hours.

Family day care

Family day care can be for children from birth through to school age. The care is provided in the educator’s own home and many providers are parents whose children are older and go to school. Family day care providers are administered as a group through a family day care service – often this is a local council or a community organisation.

Family day care providers are rated under the National Quality Framework which reviews the quality of most types of early childhood services. The mychild.gov.au and startingblocks.gov.au websites help you find out the quality ratings of providers.

In-home care

Some children are cared for in their own home, by nannies or babysitters. These forms of care are not regulated by us (the Department).