Need a childcare quick-fix? Know your options

How to decide which child care provider is going to meet your child’s, and your family’s, unique needs?

May 03 2017

Every family approaches raising children differently, but there is one thing that most parents from across the country face – adults need to work, so what do I do with my kids?

One minute you’re having carefree dinners, reading books from cover to cover and scaling the career ladder; the next you’re attempting to adjust to your new life of nappies and naps with your precious bundle of screaming joy.

And then, in the blink of an eye, it’s time to head back to the office to spend some much needed ‘grown up time’ and amidst the anxiety of having nothing to wear, how many days to work, and what’s changed since you left the office, you have to figure out what on earth you’re going to do with your baby.

The good news is you’re not alone in this scenario and there are highly trained professionals ready and waiting to change those nappies, schedule those naps and most importantly, sing along to Hey Duggee every afternoon.

But how do you decide which child care provider is going to meet your child’s, and your family’s, unique needs? With so many options out there, it can be a daunting prospect trying to decide which services will be the best fit for your circumstances and your budget while also providing an opportunity for your little one to develop socially, emotionally and intellectually.

With more children than ever before attending some form of childcare in Australia, the options can sometimes seem endless, which is why we’ve put together this quick rundown to give you a better idea of how each different form of childcare service works.

Long Day Care

A confusing name, we know! Long Day Care is the most common form of childcare in Australia and it generally refers to childcare centres. It’s the most common option for parents heading back to the 9-to-5 routine as centres are open for 10 hours a day if you need, five days a week. Your child will have plenty of opportunities to make friends with other kids their own age as children are often grouped according to age. Depending on where you live and the services provided, the average price for Long Day Care is $400 a week. 

Nannies/Au Pair

No longer just an option for the super-wealthy, nannies provide a flexible alternative to traditional childcare. Alongside your family, nannies structure a schedule suited to your needs and can plan educational activities. Nannies registered at an agency are your safest option; they will have relevant qualifications, current first aid training, and will have completed police and reference checks. Although this option can sometimes be more expensive than other options, for parents with multiple children, it could work out to be comparable to formal care. A typical agency fee is $35 an hour.

An Au Pair is a live-in carer for your child. In exchange for providing meals, board and a salary of approximately $180-$220 per week, Au Pairs will care for your child based on an agreed schedule, and complete minor housekeeping duties. Sometimes, Au Pairs are foreign nationals.

Family Day Care

As opposed to centre-based childcare, Family Day Care is a smaller, home-based alternative to Long Day Care. A qualified carer, or educator, facilitates the care in their own home. This type of care caters to a much smaller group of children – the maximum is seven – and is often made up of a mix of ages. Prices are dependent on location and services, but you’re usually looking at $6-$15 an hour. 

Occasional/Limited Hours Care

Limited Hours Care is for short periods of care on a casual basis. It’s usually managed by the community or local government, but it may be offered in some Long Day Care centres. Each service has its own working hours and fee structure, but most can cater for children of parents who work unpredictable hours.

In-Home Care

This is similar to Family Day Care except a professional carer provides services in your own home. Often, it is only an option for children or parents who live with a disability or illness, for children who live in rural areas, or where no other suitable care is available.

Informal care

Informal childcare is when you have a relative or friend look after your children. This role usually falls to grandparents who are often retired. Although this arrangement may seem appealing, flexible and cheap, it’s important to consider whether this is the right arrangement for your parent/friend and your child – particularly, do they enjoy this caring role, are they fit for this role and will this arrangement affect your relationship?

Helpful links

For some desperate parents, finding childcare – any childcare – can threaten to cloud their judgement when it comes to choosing quality childcare over the easiest and most available option.

Here are some helpful links to help with your research:

Freecall: 1800 670 305 (Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 6.00pm EST)

Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)
Phone: 1300 422 327 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm EST)

Family Day Care Australia
Freecall: 1800 621 218 (Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm EST)

CHARLTON BROWN – Nanny Services
+61 7 3216 0288 or

Australian Community Children's Services
Phone: (03) 9486 3455

National In-Home Childcare Association

Phone: (02) 6026 3899

Department of Human Services (Families section)

Phone: 131 272