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What you need to know about your child care options

13 July 2017 | Care & Support

Between sleepless nights, endless nappy changes and constant feeding, often there isn’t time to think about much else after welcoming your new baby into the world.

But when you finally emerge from the newborn haze and begin preparing to return to some adult routines, which may include work, one of the first items on your list is likely to be childcare.

As you start down this road, it’s not unusual to think, ‘when did choosing child care become so confusing?’. With a list of childcare options as endless as your washing pile, you could be forgiven for feeling puzzled about the best option for your child.

So to save you precious time, we’ve done the hard work for you by comparing the pros and cons of the main types of care available to families.

Here are the main ones:

  • Long Day Care is generally an Early Childhood Centre
  • Home Based Care – nanny or an educator under In-Home Care Service
  • Family Day Care – provided in the educator’s own home
  • Informal Care – care often provided by grandparents, family or friends


Early Childhood Centre

As the name suggests this is a centre-based service. To add to the confusion you might also hear about childcare centres or early learning centres. Essentially, they are the same and are all Early Childhood Centres offering Long Day Care, generally open from 6.30am to 6pm.

Most centres offer care for children from 6 weeks until school age. Staff are known as educators and are all required to have minimum formal qualifications. All approved Early Childhood Centres are governed under the same framework aiming to give children a high standard of education and care. Children are offered a mixture of education, care and activities, including reading, sport, cooking, music and pre-school programs. Services can be operated by private companies, local councils or non-profit organisations.

Pros Cons
  • Child Care Benefit from Australian Government available to help with the cost of childcare
  • Staff are managed by the centre
  • Offers a formal, but flexible learning environment
  • Your child socialises with children of different ages, as well as educators
  • Ample resources such as toys, education related and outdoor equipment
  • There may be a waiting list for your preferred centre
  • Exposure to illness due to number of children at centre
  • Sharing an educator with other children.
  • If your child does not respond well to unfamiliar or noisy environments
  • Children are not guaranteed to have a consistent educator
  • Your flexibility is restricted by the hours of operation of the centre, having to conduct drop-offs and pick-ups within set hours.
Nanny or educator through In-Home Care

Nanny: hiring a nanny of your choice, will see the nanny care for your children in your home and you are in control of your child’s routine and activities. There are no age limits and flexible hours can be arranged for the day, evenings, weekend and even overnight.

Educator: eligible families of the In-Home Care program may also access the Government’s Child Care Benefit, when using an educator from an approved provider like Hessel Group. The Government provides this service for families who are unable to access suitable childcare and can meet the eligibility criteria. Just as with Early Childhood Centre, educators are required to work under the same framework and are governed by In-Home Care Standards.

Pros Cons
  • Care and attention is totally focused on your child with a constant carer of your choosing
  • Minimal exposure to sickness and germs
  • You have greater control over routines and expectations, meaning less disruption for your children
  • Children feel comfortable in their familiar surroundings
  • You don’t need to organise transport to and from child care centres, helping you to feel calmer and not worry about rushing in and out of the house
  • Flexible hours including weekends and nights
  • You can provide direction on the activities you wish your child to be involved in
  • A nanny may help with light household duties relating to caring for your child, such as meals and tidying up saving you precious time
  • You can share a nanny with a friend or family member
  • An educator supports with child led activities and must meet quality outcomes that are monitored and supported by the approved agency
  • Children may miss out on socialising with other children, if regular play dates and excursions aren’t organised
  • You will need to organise back-up care if nanny is sick or on holidays, but this problem is solved if you use an agency such as Hessel, who will arrange a replacement
Family Day Care

Family Day Care involves an individual educator, who is an approved, early childhood education professional, operating a childcare service from their own home. The Government regulates how many children the educator can care for, currently standing at no more than four children under school age. Family Day Care can also provide care to school students outside of school hours, and for any aged children outside of standard working hours, during school holidays, and in some cases on weekends and overnight.

Pros Cons
  • Child Care Benefit from Australian Government available to help with the cost of childcare
  • Interaction with a small group of children of differing ages
  • Flexibility with hours, if you’re running late from work or need care out of hours and on the weekend
  • Available for school aged children and those under 5, meaning all your children can be cared by at one location     
  • Less facilities and activities available, due to service taking place in carer’s home
  • If carer is unwell, you’ll need to organise another option
  • Care not in the child’s home
Informal care

According to ABS statistics, around one fifth of all children are usually cared for by their grandparents. There are no age restrictions for your parents looking after your children and no time limits – you only need flexible and accommodating parents.

Benefits Cons
  • Your children are familiar with their grandparents
  • Creates a stronger relationship between family members
  • Low-cost and flexible
  • You can provide direction on the activities throughout the day
  • Children will miss out on social interaction if regular play dates aren’t organised
  • If grandparents are unwell or have social activities organised, then you will need to organise other care
  • Generally only an available option if parents are retired and live in close proximity

Ultimately, the decision on the type of care will come down to personal choice, financial situation, advice from your friends on the experiences they have had with providers, and of course, your child – their developmental stage and personality.

If you and your partner both return to work when your child is a few months old, you will most likely transition through a range of childcare options as your child develops. Furthermore, you may use several options at once. For example, your youngest child may spend their time

between a childcare centre and a nanny, while your four year old may be going kindergarten and then the rest of the time with their sibling and the nanny.

To speak to Hessel about the nanny and In-Home Care services offered click here.


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