5 practical pointers to choosing childcare
Placing your little one in childcare can be an emotional time – for you and for them. It may be the first time you’ve been apart, or you’re feeling guilty about going back to work. Or, you find the idea of a stranger taking care of your child difficult to digest.
Adding to this uncertainty is the often confusing and contradictory minefield of information about childcare, especially when you’re just getting your head around being a first-time parent. And that’s not even mentioning unregulated operators or carers with unsafe facilities.
To help make a difficult decision a lot easier, over 460 childcare centres from across Australia have come together to collaborate on The Childcare Guide. This handy, quick reference resource was created with important feedback from families who know exactly what it’s like to search for professional care.
5 practical tips to choosing childcare
A combination of your gut feeling about a place and the people who work there, along with its location and hours of operation will ultimately influence your final choice. However, there are five practical pointers you need to know before you start your search, along with questions to ask yourself prior to making your decision.
Types of childcare
The first thing you need to understand is the different types of childcare care available. From long day care and family day care to occasional care and having a nanny, the type of care you choose will be based on the needs of you and your child. It’s good to know how each type of care should operate and if they are government approved.
All government approved childcare services follow a detailed curriculum called The Early Years Learning Framework. It’s important you have a basic understanding of the EYLF to ensure it is being implemented at the childcare service of your choice. Some good questions to ask the day care educators include:
- Do you offer play-based learning?
- How do you plan for, observe, and evaluate my child’s learning?
- How do you provide an environment that recognises my child’s individual interests and builds on them?
The National Quality Framework (NQF) is a great way to compare childcare services. The NQF is an agreement between all States and Territory Governments to work together to provide better educational and developmental outcomes for children. This basically means that all government approved facilities (long day care and family day care) are required to meet specific standards in order to receive one of the five following quality ratings:
- Exceeding National Quality Standard
- Meeting National Quality Standard
- Working Towards National Quality Standard
- Significant Improvement Required
Kindergarten and Preschool programs
As your child approaches the age of four, you’ll need to make a decision where to enrol them for that all-important transition to ‘Big School’. Most long day care centres offer Kindergarten and Preschool programs with longer operating hours than standalone Kindergartens and Preschools. Consider whether your choice of childcare caters for the school transition, what their programs involve, and how they meet your child’s individual needs.
What government assistance is available and how it all works could be an important factor in choosing your childcare. For example, it’s good to know if the provider is government approved as you could be eligible for Child Care Benefit and/or Child Care Rebate.
So, there you have it, the five practical pointers you need to understand before choosing childcare.
The Childcare Guide has a great checklist of questions to ask yourself and potential childcare providers to help find the best option. Meanwhile, it is also offering complimentary two days of childcare with any of its participating centres*.
*The complimentary offer expires on June 30, 2019.