A guide to childcare in Australia
Childcare and early childhood education is very common in Australia. Many families rely on some form of care so that both parents can work; others may use childcare as a means for their little ones to socialise. Whatever your reasons, you can learn about your options here.
Recent research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that just under half (48%) of children aged 0-12 years in Australia attend childcare. For some lucky families, this care comes in the form of generous grandparents who are willing and able to give up their time to look after the grandkids.
Yet nearly one quarter of children – about 919,400 kids – attend formal, paid childcare. Younger children are more likely to attend formal childcare. As they hit school age, parents are more likely to use informal care.
Formal childcare options in Australia
If your parents live too far away, or are still working themselves, then what are your options for childcare? Luckily, Australia has a very robust childcare system – with government financial support in place to help pay the fees for many families.
There are a range of options for formal childcare in Australia. These include:
- Long day care: Childcare centres can be run by private operators, local councils, community organisations and even employers. They provide families with full-day care for little ones; usually for children up to pre-school age.
- Family day care: This is a recognised form of childcare in Australia, where experienced carers look after children in their own homes. The carers are limited in the number of children they can look after, and generally provide a range of educational and play activities.
- Occasional childcare: This provides short periods of care for your child. Depending on the provider you use, you can either book a regular spot or use the service on a casual basis.
- Before and after school care: Many schools and local communities provide before school, after school and school holiday options for working parents.
- Nanny or au pair: If you prefer to keep your little one at home, then a nanny or au pair may be an option. This is more expensive than other forms of care, but you may like the idea of having an extra pair of hands available for cooking dinners and tackling the washing!
When it comes to finding the right care for your little one, it can really pay to shop around. Visit all the local long day care centres in your area and meet the family day carers. Also ask other mums and dads for referrals – they can be an invaluable source of information.
Consider your situation, too
As well as looking after the needs of your children, don’t forget to look after yourself. Have you returned to work because your growing family needs the extra financial support? As well as coping with the costs of raising children, many young families are also burdened with new home loans and other debts – making managing finances more difficult.
If this is the case for your family, then now is a great time to consider Income Protection Insurance. Generally providing up to 75% of your monthly income, as is the case with NobleOak’s Income Protection cover, if you were to suffer a serious illness or injury it provides peace of mind that your growing family will be looked after. It may also mean that you are able to keep paying for childcare services while you focus on your recovery.