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The number of different types of child care available to parents can be overwhelming and confusing particularly for first time parents.

To assist you in understanding the types of child care available we have listed below some of the more commonly used child care options and a brief description.

We hope you find this useful when trying to determine the type of care that would best suit you and your children.

Child Care Centre or Long Day Care – care for children under school age, in premises specially built or adapted for child care. private operators, local councils, community organisations, employers and non-profit organisations may run long day care centres.

They provide all-day or part-time care for working families and offer developmental programs within their care programs. Meals are usually provided with some long day care centres providing care for limited numbers of primary school children before and after school, and during school holidays.

Family Day Care is a network of experienced carers or educators who provide care and developmental activities in their own homes for other people’s children.

Family day care is primarily for children who have not yet started school. It can also provide care for school children up to 12 years old. Care is flexible and can be tailored to suit each family’s needs including care outside normal working hours and, if needed, overnight care.

Pre-school / Kindergarten / Prep – Pre-school is a planned educational program for children in the years before a child commences school. Children are usually aged between 3 and 5 years of age. Pre-school may take place in a range of settings including a purpose built building, in a community setting, a school, as part of a long day care centre or a mobile or visiting service.

Pre-school generally runs between the hours of 9:00am and 3:00pm similar to school hours although this may vary by state and by service so check with the provider.

The terms kindergarten or prep are also used in some states.

Before / After School Care or Out of School Hours (OOSH) care is supervised care and recreation for school-age children:

  • Before and after school
  • On pupil-free days
  • During school holidays (vacation care).

Occasional Care Services – Occasional Care Services provide short periods of care for children under school age. Families can access occasional care on either a regular or irregular basis. Parents use occasional child care for a variety of reasons including casual, shift-work or part-time work, respite care, crisis and emergency care, shopping or attending appointments.

Occasional care allows people the flexibility to leave their children in an early childhood learning environment to socialise and interact with other children. Community organisations, non-profit organisations and local councils may run occasional care centres.

In Home Care – In-home care is a flexible form of child care where care is provided in the child’s home by an approved carer. In-home care may be available for families who do not use a standard child care service, or where their child care needs cannot be met by an existing service. Families that may be eligible for in-home care include:

  • families where the parent/s or child has an illness/disability
  • families in rural or remote areas
  • parent/s working shiftwork or non-standard hours
  • parents who have had a multiple birth (more than two) and/or have more than two children under school age
  • breastfeeding mothers working from home

Nanny – employed by the family on either a live-in or live-out basis to undertake all tasks related to the care of children. Duties are generally restricted to child care and the domestic tasks related to child care. May or may not have had any formal training though often has a good deal of actual experience. A nanny’s working week ranges from forty to sixty hours per week.

Nanny Sharing – employed by two families in the same capacity as a Nanny undertaking tasks related to the care of children. If you are interested in having a nanny care for your child but are reluctant due to the expense, nanny sharing with another family maybe the solution.

Au Pair – foreign national in Australia for up to a year for cultural exchange purposes and to experience Australian life. Lives as part of the host family and receives a small allowance / salary in exchange for child care and household duties. May or may not have previous child care experience.

Mother’s Help – a mother’s help has little or no previous experience of caring for children. They generally have career aspirations in the field of child care and this is one way of gaining experience whilst undertaking formal study. A mother’s help will assist the parent(s) with childcare and housekeeping duties. These duties should be carried out under the supervision of the parent.

Babysitter – provides supervisory, custodial care of children on an irregular full time or part-time basis